This is part of a multi-part series. You can read the first post here. You can read the next post here.

What Direction for the Bumper?

I didn’t know exactly where to go from here. I knew I could do a stop-motion project, but that would be time-consuming. I found a few lego-themed templates and After Effects projects out there, but nothing really meshed with the aesthetic of the main graphic.

The Setup

After some indecision, I decided to go with a stop-motion video. I assembled the entire “BLOCKS” logo and used glue dots to attach it to the top of a table. I then took the table into a room with no windows. Nothing inappropriate went on between me and the legos, I promise.

I used my 3 Mylo LED lights to illuminate the table top and legos. I lit them from a very low angle to make some dramatic shadows to create depth. I also had to walk around the church finding black fabric to put on the ground to black it out more.

I had my 70D with the 24-105/4L on a tripod, extended as high as it would go, with the lens zoomed as wide as it would go.

The Process

This was my first time ever to try a stop motion project. I knew some of the basics…

  • Touch as little as possible
  • Use a remote – shutter release
  • Keep the frame as still and consistent as possible.
  • Minimize any movement.
  • Keep lighting uniform.
  • Don’t knock anything over.
  • Start with a complete project, disassemble it, and reverse your sequence.

Armed with a cheapo Amazon Basics IR shutter remote, I pulled off a few of the fancy “interesting” legos, threw them on the table and snapped an image. After I got these fluff pieces off, I began removing legos, one by one in the reverse order that I write letters. Starting with the bottom of the “S” I removed one lego, snapped a picture, and repeated. This left me with a sequence of about 250 images.

A few times, I bumped the table. Once or twice, the glue dots came loose. A few times, letters shifted and I knew I’d need to edit them later.

Surprises

One thing that I thought about but never checked was the weight of the 24-105. That lens is heavy and is prone to what is called “zoom creep. Zoom creep is when you hold a heavy lens facing downward and the weight of the lens pulls the zoom forward (or zooms in).

Although there was little or no movement on my tripod, the small vibrations from the shutter would make micro zoom adjustments. The end build, I had an accidentally zoomed video.

Editing

I brought this image sequence into Premiere Pro and had it import the images automatically and sequentially. Our bumper videos typically need to be 45 seconds at a minimum. This is barely enough time for people to get on and off the stage. At the default 24 frames per second, this led to a very short video. I’m not a math guy, but I think it was around 8 seconds. So, I bumped the FPS down to 12 frames per second. This slowed down the footage considerably.

I was left with a neat video, but I had a few issues:

  • The glue dots breaking away a few times made the logo a bit jumpy
  • The accidental zoom wasn’t totally smooth
  • A few times, letters separated (look at the “c” in the video below.
  • Some of the fabric on the floor moved around and the background wasn’t totally uniform
  • There was some noticeable flickering. Although the lighting was consistent, I didn’t consistently stand in the same spot. Light reflects off anything, and it reflected off of me in different ways.

Slowing down the footage was a good start, but I still had a video that had some issues and was only 15 seconds long. I end the video on my last frame and hold the finished build, but that could only last so long…I needed more content.