Stopmotion Explosion

Is The LEGO Movie Stop Motion or CGI?

Hey everyone!

Like many stop motion animation fans I’m really looking forward to seeing The LEGO Movie coming out on February 7th. If you haven’t seen the trailer make sure to check it out!

Pretty awesome huh? Looks like an amazing stop motion movie. Or is it? If you look closely you’ll see that some scenes from The LEGO Movie trailer look digital, while other scenes look like they were animated using actual LEGO bricks. Some look like a mix of both. What’s going on here? I’m not sure. In fact, not too many people are sure whether this is a digital movie or a stop motion movie.

Because I was curious I did some research and found out that people have been asking the directors of The LEGO Movie about this for quite some time but the directors haven’t been very clear about it. Check out this panel from the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller answer the question in the first couple minutes of this video:

I also found some tweets by Chris Miller from back in June that seem to confirm a hybrid animation style.

So the answer to the question “Is the LEGO Movie stop motion or CGI?” actually could be both! And from the sound of it the Directors don’t want to let us know exactly what parts are CGI and what parts may be stop motion. Either way it’s still pretty cool to know that at least some parts of this movie may be made from real LEGO bricks. That’s a win in my book!

Update 02-07-2014

On the day of the movie's release, more information is coming out about the production process. Here's another tweet from filmmaker Chris Miller

The film was made using mostly CGI. Special care was taken to ensure the LEGO world reflected the dynamics and appearance of real LEGO bricks. The creators examined parts under microscopes to better understand how they wore down over time. Animators experimented with different levels of dust and dirt on surfaces, and added imperfections to models, like tiny gaps between bricks.

It's great to have confirmation of something we suspected all along. The creators of this movie were inspired by watching actual brickfilms.

Here's an article in the NYT with more coverage of the production. This article at CGMeetup has a few more images from the studio. Check out the images of Emmet's expressions, video of the CGI animation process, and a real LEGO mock-up of a ship in the film in the video above!

Support the ModiBot Kickstarter Campaign!

The ModiBot Kickstarter Campaign has successfully funded. Thanks for your support! Preordering now unlocks additional figures.

I'll take care of this

A few weeks back, I met Wayne Losey. Wayne and his partner Tucker Johnson have been working on an exciting project that stop-motion animators are going to love.


The ModiBot is a brand-new posable figure. Like other building toys, ModiBots arrive as a pile of parts that snap together quickly. One ModiBot kit can be combined with other ModiBots to create new figures. Due to the flexible design and large assortment of accessories, the ModiBot is going to become a favorite character for animators everywhere.

Venture kit parts

ModiBots can currently be ordered from the Bot Shop at Shapeways, the 3D printing store. After meeting Wayne, I placed an order. It takes around ten days for the figures to be printed and shipped, but when they arrived, I made this quick video of unboxing and assembly of the ModiBot Mo- Poseable Venture Figure Kit.

I'm pretty happy with the design. While the nylon plastic Shapeways material creates high amounts of friction in the ball joints, I've handled one of the new molded plastic figures, and this friction will be a non-issue going forward. The joints have a perfect balance of friction and movement.

ModiBot proto shoot

While the final ModiBot design will be built from molded plastic, the Shapeways figures are "printed" from a textured nylon plastic material. The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to help bring the new molded figures to market. This is a great chance to pre-order a very cool toy with huge animation potential.

Kickstarter Link

FrameByFrame OS X 10.8 Update & Bugfix

Some of you were experiencing a mysterious crash when using FrameByFrame with OS X 10.8. After some testing and dead ends, I'm happy to announce a fix has been released on the Downloads page (link below).

The problem was caused by a bug in OS X, where a scrollbar appearing in the timeline would cause a crash to occur. If for any reason you wish to circumvent this bug and run an older version of FrameByFrame, open your Mac's System Preferences. Click General. Underneath "Show Scroll Bars" check "Always". Then exit, and launch FrameByFrame.

If you're installing FrameByFrame for the first time via CD, please check and ensure that you're running version 1.11. If not, delete the current version, and download the latest from our website, via the Downloads page.

The Stopmotion Explosion Mailbag - Answers to Your Questions

Happy New Year!

Over the past few days I've been emailing back and forth with Stopmotion Explosion animators, answering questions. I'd like to share some of my answers, in hopes that you might find them useful in your own animating adventures.

Q: (A Mac user) What's this Macam application? I can't animate with it, and it doesn't recognize the camera..
A: Macam is used to connect non-OS X compatible cameras to the animation application. However, if you're using the Animation kit, you don't need to use Macam, since the camera already has plug-n-play OS X support.

Instead, you want to be animating with the FrameByFrame app. The fastest way to get started with FrameByFrame is to visit the Downloads page, input the password from the book, and download the app installer.

Q: (A Windows user) I can't get the camera to work in SMA. However, I can see an image in AMCAP. What's happening?
A: Windows Vista, 7 & 8 have an irritating tendency to automatically install (wrong!) drivers when the camera is plugged into the computer for the first time. This is usually avoidable if you install the software CD before plugging the camera into your computer. Otherwise, do the following.

Test the camera by plugging it into your computer and launching AMCAP (this application is located on your desktop, or can be found by running a quick search via the Start Menu). Make sure no other applications are running. If you can see an image in AMCAP, then exit, and launch SMA. If you don't see an image there, do the following:

  1. Unplug the camera
  2. Insert the software CD
  3. Run the installer again.
  4. When the camera driver installer pops up, make sure to install it again.
  5. Restart, and then launch SMA.

98.7% of the time, this fixes the problem. If you don't see an image after following the instructions above, contact me.

Q: The camera focus ring seems stiff when I try to turn it. Is it broken?
A: You're focusing the camera correctly. The "stiffness" you're experiencing is lubricant on the focus ring, preventing the camera from loosing focus easily if the camera is jiggled. If you twist the ring left and right a few times, it should loosen up. There is a lot of room inside the camera for the focus ring to turn, so don't be afraid of breaking it

Q: I've made an amazing movie, and I want to add some sounds! How do I do this?
A: The process of adding sound effects to movies is covered in Chapter 12. Editing video can take some time to learn, but the end result is well worth it.

If you insert the CD into your computer drive, you'll find a folder labeled Sound Effects. These can be added to your film using Windows Movie Maker, or you can follow the instructions in Chapter 11 for recording your own sounds.

I also really like the sound effects on - these are usually very high quality, and there is a large selection to choose from.

I prefer using Windows Movie Maker 2.6 for editing, since it has more features than newer versions. You can download this version from HERE.

Got a question of your own? Contact me via the support page!

Sneak Preview: The NEW Stopmotion Explosion Camera

If you've visited the Stopmotion Explosion store, you may have noticed that the kit is marked as being out of stock. We're accepting pre-orders for a new kit, coming within a few weeks. Here are images and more information about the new stop motion animation camera.