Want to bring your minifigures to life? Here are three great suggestions for making a chilling Halloween brickfilm.
The spooky season has arrived, so it’s time for some frights and fun; Halloween is here – the holiday for costumes, candy, and creeps. There are some fantastic new LEGO releases that have already hit shelves (sadly, not much Halloween-themed, though 10325 Alpine Lodge will fill your heart with joy if you’re a Christmas fanatic as well).
Ecstatic about ectoplasm? Delirious about demons? Crazy about candy? Your minifigures probably are too – or at least, you can make it seem that way. Yes – the perfect way to bring everyone’s favourite plastic people to life is by creating brickfilms – stop-motion animation movies starring LEGO minifigures. You can unleash terror with every frame or induce belly laughs as your characters end up in uncomfortable situations.
Blocks, the monthly LEGO magazine, has three great suggestions to help you construct a macabre Halloween brickfilm in chilling style. These go above and beyond making a regular brickfilm, but anyone can take advantage of this list of tips.
Lighting and lightning go far
As with any brickfilm, the lighting you use goes a long way towards setting the vibe. If there’s a stomach-churningly sickening secret behind a door, you’ll want to light it up. LEGO bricks are almost always an exact fit, yet doorways and LEGO windows can create gaps and let sources of light through. Consider the bricks and props you have to work with and think of ways you can cast shadows, too.
What should you use as your light source? Halloween brickfilms tend not to require bright lighting and are usually cast in darkness. The setting is entirely your choice, but one thing’s for sure – even in dark spaces, lighting is a non-negotiable. You’ll need light to pick up the details and movements of minifigures, the brickfilm set, and what’s lurking in the shadows. Plus, it can make your brickfilm look seriously amazing with a bit of red tissue paper over a flashlight…
Tactfully using lighting to shed light on dark scenes is one thing, but light effects can really elevate the tension. If the scene is driving on a stormy night past Bricksburg’s cemetery and your characters have hit a walking corpse, use lighting to show the car’s headlights approaching the zombie. Looking to take a more lighthearted approach? Try capturing shadow puppets using LEGO elements and minifigures in front of a light source.
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Bring the thunder and tempo
In a medium like LEGO brickfilms, you’re already likely to wow your audience if you can implement smooth animation and a good story. The final piece of the puzzle, and often one of the last things to be implemented into a feature-length film, is the use of sound and potentially music.
If zombie, werewolf, and vampire minifigures are your actors, the right sound effects can help set the mood. Creaking floorboards, rustling trees, and breaking glass can add a layer of tension to your piece – just as the whistle of the wind and rain can ease audiences into a false sense of calm. Gnashing teeth and creature roars are perfect for Brickfilms. Even something campy and canned can be useful when creating humour.
Finding royalty-free music for your Halloween brickfilm isn’t always easy, but thankfully, your musical soundtrack can thrive on something as simple as a shrill violin sound effect or low tuba growl. Few brickfilms can afford a sweeping score or musical numbers, so the bar is low. All that said, if you have the resources, you can soar high above the bar. Music has elevated film from the beginning, even where silent films had live orchestras and a supporting piano.
You’ve been framed
Brickfilmers know the stop-motion method by heart, but we’ll repeat it anyway to anyone curious or interested in trying one of their own. Brickfilms are captured one frame at a time – in other words, a picture is taken, a slight movement is made to each minifigure in the direction they are going, and then, another picture is taken. Placing these pictures in order creates a motion picture. A movie.
Here’s a technique you can try to bring your Halloween brickfilm to the next level. Try moving your monster character differently than your other minifigures. Perhaps they move slower, or don’t move when there’s light. Of course, you can even set them at a different framerate than their prey. It’s a lot of work, but it could be worth it…
If your monsters shift slower than your heroes, or you don’t animate their feet when they move (essentially letting them shift across the floor), that’s deliciously creepy. Maybe their movements are even more sharp and severe than the smooth movements of the rest of the film. No matter how you choose to move them, special touches like this can bring your brickfilm from hare-brained to hair-raising. How will you make your Halloween Brickfilm stand out?