Mom, I want to make Lego movies like on Youtube.
November 11, 2012 8:12 AM   Subscribe

My 10 year old want to make stop-motion movies, primarily Lego based. I would like to support this kind of creativity. We have an old laptop running MS Vista that belongs to him. We need a camera, editing software, and I don't know what else. A book with tips and tricks for newbies, maybe?

I have a brand new laptop running Windows 8 that I would rather not let him use, but his computer is upgradable to W8. I think the total budget for this would be around $150. This is for Christmas.

He's a very smart kid but frustration averse and I have never done any video editing at all so super fiddly software is probably not a good idea. He is pretty good at taking care of his electronics, a digital camera he got when he was five is still in good condition.
posted by Talia Devane to Technology (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Have you got a smart phone? The app Lego movie maker is pretty cool to do just what you describe. (At a entry level.)
posted by Rabarberofficer at 8:14 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I didn't think about that, he does have a deactivated 3gs iphone. That will be upgraded to a deactivated iphone 4 sometime next year.
posted by Talia Devane at 8:19 AM on November 11, 2012

The website might be useful. Along the top of the page they have a "Resources" section - it includes information on what types of cameras and software might be useful for him. as well as ideas on how to actually put his films together.
posted by lharmon at 8:19 AM on November 11, 2012

I made a stop-motion video I posted on YouTube using a camera and Windows Movie Maker. It was time consuming but not too bad, I just took the pictures and loaded them in to the program.

The main thing I would suggest is getting him a tripod. It'll make it MUCH easier to set up his pictures they way he wants and keep the perspective the same from scene to scene. Good luck!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:37 AM on November 11, 2012

Having done some of this, here's a couple of links I found useful.

Software and a useful resource site.
posted by merocet at 8:59 AM on November 11, 2012

I didn't think about that, he does have a deactivated 3gs iphone. That will be upgraded to a deactivated iphone 4 sometime next year.

The Frameographer App is cheap and easy to use with a couple of power features like onion skinning, adding audio and exporting the movie to the .mov format.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:01 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use Stop Motion on my iPad, and it looks like it's available for iPhone too.

I used it with an 8 year old boy, similarly frustration-averse, and he was captivated for hours.

I'd recommend using the old iPhone, buying Stop Motion, and then you figure out how to use it well enough to help him figure it out.

Bonus: incredibly cheap.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:10 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

A number of years ago, I decided to create a tiny stop-motion film. I don't think I had my tripod at the time, so I improvised one. That was a huge mistake; I ended up having to write software and then do a bunch of manual work to help me correct for the tiny shifts as the camera moved around.

So, yeah, you definitely want a tripod -- and probably a better-than-cheapo one; mine is crappy and has a bit of wobble to it. You might try setting a 2-second delay on the camera to reduce the bounce from pressing/releasing the button.

Cheap digital cameras love lots of light, so a couple of big lamps and maybe a bounce (e.g. hang up a sheet) so you can get some softer light.
posted by novalis_dt at 9:32 AM on November 11, 2012

Regarding tripods, there's a number of cheap ones for an iPhone/iPod touch, plus on version 4 or higher (not sure about the 3GS), you can use the volume switch on the included earbuds to act as camera shutter, so he wouldn't have to touch the camera at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I will point him towards the apps as a bridge until Christmas, but it is time to upgrade his digital camera anyway. Any specific recommendations for that?
posted by Talia Devane at 10:01 AM on November 11, 2012

What camera to get depends on your budget. Canon's point-and-shoots are actually quite nice and reasonably priced. My wife and I are also also still quite happy with the 20D SLR; at this point several generations behind the curve but still takes great photos. Lenses that you buy for any Canon SLR will work with any past or future Canon SLR (including the film ones), and will, if treated well, last forever.
posted by novalis_dt at 10:21 AM on November 11, 2012

There is an app called Stop motion recorder that is perfect for this. As are probably those mentioned above! A tripod is a necessity for stop motion, if he will be working on a table top, then you can get a little phone tripod that clamps to the side of the table.
posted by Joh at 10:22 AM on November 11, 2012

In re. the answer above: Lego unwisely licenses their name to a company called "Digital Blue," who make the linked camera and another "Lego" digital camera we received as a gift. It was useless junk, enragingly bad junk, and "Digital Blue" is one of those rude, customer-service-free companies you have nightmares about after engaging with. AVOID

That out of the way, I came in to say that when I took a class in this (at a similar age) and did it with clay, the end result was a little strip of film. If he has any interest in, uh, "classic" technologies, that could be a way to roll. My concentration level was high given the total inability to edit in post-production...
posted by kmennie at 1:32 PM on November 11, 2012

There are plenty of free Linux stop-motion application available. I would simply install Ubuntu on the old laptop, which should be extremely easy and would greatly enhance its performance, get a cheap webcam, and start experimenting.
posted by bluefrog at 3:00 PM on November 11, 2012

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