Monday, March 7, 2016

Stop Motion with the Lego Movie Maker App

*Note: Lego has unfortunately stopped supporting this app and has pulled it from the App Store. BOO! However, there is still value to this post as the idea can be applied to other apps!

For the last three years, I've allowed my students or club members to dabble with stop motion animation projects.  Through our experiments we have used a variety of stop motion apps and programs, but this year- thanks to a great colleague- I stumbled across an amazing FREE app that made the process more practical, less daunting, and more fun! The Lego Movie Maker app can be found on the app store, and this is one you will want to have on every students' device!

This app allows students a lot of flexibility and room to create while at the same time walking them easily through an otherwise tedious process of expertly stringing photos together.

For our most recent experiment in stop motion, the students had a variety of mediums to work with for their animation shorts.  Simple black background stations were created around the room using simple bulletin board paper, but students were free to enhance the backgrounds provided.  This made it easy to sort and separate groups working.  Students were asked to bring in Legos from home or other materials they wanted to incorporate into their work.  I also provided Play-doh which is a relatively inexpensive material that pairs well with stop motion (think Gumby).  Other items I typically have on hand include fishing line, popsicle sticks, glue, scissors, markers, etc.

Students can create with Lego Movie Maker in more than one way. They can either add images (called frames) from their camera roll, or take photos directly in the LMM app. I highly recommend students use the app to take all photos for a few reasons.  1) It has features that help students take higher quality photos such as an auto-focus tool, an "onion mask" which allows students to align photos properly, and a viewer/grid that keeps them cropped similarly.  2)  It's just a lot easier to keep all photos in one place!  One great part of being able to pull in frames from the camera roll though is the ability to pull in pre-made title pages or other illustrations/creations made from other apps.  For example, several of my students used Keynote to make slides that progressed their storyline.

The simple interface is easy for students
to understand and manipulate.
Students have the ability to adjust the rate their photos stream. I encourage students to play with this feature to find the effect they love the most.  Keep in mind the higher the speed, the smoother the finish.  However, the higher the speed...the more photos they will want to have or they will have a very short project!

Another great feature on the LMM app is their pre-made stock photos that really enhance students' creations.  These fun, colorful, comicbook-esque frames really add punch to a project and make it look more professional.  Students can also choose from a variety of filters to give their project a unique look and feel.

A movie isn't a movie until sound effects and music are added, right?  Thankfully the LMM app makes this incredibly easy as well.  Students have a lot of fun mixing sound effects and music with their projects to add that little extra bit of professionalism and whimsy.

If you aren't familiar with stop motion, there are several great YouTube tutorials available including one on the Lego Movie Maker app.  I also show them several engaging stop motion shorts and clips from the Lego Movie to give them ideas for their own projects.

I also give them these three tips when making their clips.

Creating can be noisy and messy, but worth it!
1. More is BETTER.  (The more photos you take, the better!)
2. Smaller is BETTER.  (The smaller your movement between photos, the better!)
3. Consistency MATTERS.  (Keep camera still and at the same angle. Keep your shots tight and on the subject matter.  Move your hand before clicking!)

Stop Motion encourages creativity and fosters
open collaboration with peers.

If you have a small person at home or a student helper, let them play with this app and watch them. You will learn a lot by watching!  So many of my favorite ideas come from watching kids play!

Happy Movie Making!



  1. Is the LEGO Movie Maker App still available?
    I have been having trouble finding it!

    PLEASE help.

    Thank you,

    1. It looks as though they have removed the app and are no longer supporting it unfortunately. It makes me sad!

  2. And they stopped making or supporting this app as of January 1, 2017.

  3. Have you run across another app that works as nicely or at least close to the original Lego Movie Maker?

  4. There is a stop motion App that does almost the same thing as this Lego app. Try it out, there is still plenty you can do with the free version of this app. Too bad, my students really loved the Lego app :(