It’s Showtime! Stop-Motion LEGO Movies Made by Tweens

A few weeks ago when our Summer Reading Program, “It’s Showtime At Your Library!” officially began, we held a LEGO Stop-Motion animation workshop in our Central Library in the fourth floor studio.

To prepare for this program, I read up about stop motion animation using one of the library’s books: Brick Flicks by Sarah Herman. It’s full of great ideas, instructions, and history of stop motion animation with LEGOs.

Prep

I found some LEGO shorts online that looked fun to show the kids:

1) Creepers Part 1
(creator used clear LEGO bricks to make it look like the animals are bobbing up and down when they walk)
2) LEGO Hulk Shopping Fail
(creator moves Hulk’s head up and down to show laughter)
3) Ship in a Bottle
(shows anticipation and anti-gravity techniques)
4) The Magic Portal
(a film from 1989 which used a very wide variety of different camera angles and shots)
5) The Escape
(made here at Pasadena Library in a teen program–the creator used a few different cool methods to show someone jumping high or swimming, which we talked about)

I also made a few stop-motion movies of my own to get a feel for doing this with the app that we have on our library iPads, Stop Motion Studio and Stop Motion Studio Pro:

    Rude — Made this short at home using Stop Motion Studio
    Game Over, Hulk — Made this short at home using Stop Motion Studio Pro. For some reason I wasn’t able to record my voice for that one…

I created a Storyboard sheet:

And this slideshow presentation:

On Program Day

I had a book display of LEGO books, and set out our LEGOs, which the library had purchased with the Play @ PPL grant. I had the fourth floor room set up with tables and chairs. I brought over a lot of book stands, the kinds we use for displaying books, because they’re perfect for holding an iPad steady!

No need for a tripod! This book stand does the trick.

Kids were seated in front of the TV screens first to watch my powerpoint presentation and the sample LEGO movies I and others more talented than I had made. Then they got to line up by the LEGOs and select just two minifigures, and go to the tables to work on their storyboards. This gave everyone a chance to get a superhero minifigure they liked without any one kid hogging all the superheroes, for example.

They did very good storyboards, and I think the act of writing down some ideas and drawing stick-men pictures helped them to get their creative juices flowing. Some were very short, others had a lot of dialogue or notes in their storyboards.

Lights, Camera, Action!

After a few minutes working on storyboards, kids were allowed to start filming. One thing I will bring for next time is more flat LEGO sheets for making floors and walls, because there weren’t quite enough of these to satisfy everyone. But the kids had a BLAST shooting their videos and applying the techniques I taught them in the presentation.

Their finished LEGO Movies

We showed each child’s LEGO movie to applause from parents and kids! It took a while to download the videos from each iPad and upload them to YouTube. I’ve now uploaded all the videos to YouTube and will share them here. Please note that I tried to get everyone’s names but there was one video where I forgot which child created it.

I was so proud of what these kids did! They got really creative with the whole project. Many kids wanted to apply the tricks they learned about making a character jump or fly by setting props and erasing them. Many of them also created little speech bubbles with paper, or recorded their voices. Some of their shots and angles were really creative and great, given the fact that iPad cameras don’t give you a ton of freedom there. And their storytelling was so cool! Conflicts between characters and interesting confrontations. (And oh, the fights!! Ninjas and pirates and all manner of action!)

We’ll be having another LEGO Movie filmmaking workshop for younger kids coming up on Saturday, July 6 at 2:30 pm on the 4th floor. This one will be for kids 5-8 years old. Call 626-744-4066 option 4 to register.

And I hope you all will consider entering our Design Your Own LEGO Contest. You make a completely original LEGO creation, then you present it at our LEGO Showcase Day on July 20 at 2 pm in the Central Library Studio on 4th. Here’s our flyer and feel free to call us for more info!

AnnMarie Kolakowski

I'm a youth services librarian working in the Children's Room at the Pasadena Central Library. I purchase juvenile nonfiction books for all sites, juvenile Spanish books for all sites, and juvenile DVDs for the Central Library. I do a lot of programs with school-age kids, including Lucha Libros, writing workshops, and STEAM/science programs. I also do 16 weeks of Infant/Toddler Storytimes each year. I love what I do, working with kids of all ages to inspire them to learn and use their curiosity and imaginations. Outside of my work at the library, I am also the author of a book on creative writing activities for kids.

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