Dance Marvels – Making Dance Moves in Stop Motion

Hey animation lovers! This past week I tried to put together a simple tutorial. It would show how to take just 4 or 5 pictures of a character in different poses, and then use those pictures to make all sorts of dance moves.

We’ve actually done this before, as part of BC Culture Days. We provided a Lego minifigure buffet, where visitors could build their own to take home, and could also do some moves for us to turn into a dance video later. We did. It’s right here.

If you are a parent, teacher, or someone looking to make stop-motion animation yourself, try making a dance contest! Just a few frames can turn into tons of content. It takes some practice to line up your frames with music, but if you’re already using a cool app or something like DaVinci Resolve (try our tutorial here) you have probably already tried it out!

I use this website a lot for music. It’s a free, public domain site, so Youtube and other hosting sites will be cool with you using it!

The video I decided to do this week was using some of the Marvel Avengers characters we got in one of our Lego Advent Calendars this year. Plus there was a recent line of random bagged Marvel guys, and I got a few of those too.

Once I got sorting figs, I realized I wanted to do a few different dances, using different combinations of figures. Plus I wanted to tell a bit of a story. The Advent calendar provided a really cool tiny Hulkbuster, and I already had the full-sized one as part of a collection I purchased this summer. Both moved really well. And if I was going to have a Hulkbuster, I had to include the Hulk.

Instead of just going to camera and getting 4 frames of each dance setup, I instead went to storyboarding. And it just kept snowballing. Here’s the video:

Most of the dances are 4 or 5 pictures combined in different ways to make movement. Black Widow, Monica Rambeau and the Winter Soldier are all made from either 4 or 5 pictures total. The Spidermans are 6.

The trio of villains combines 1 or 2 pictures where the back row’s arms are down, alternating with 3-4 pictures where they are up.

The Hulkbuster dance at the end is a lot more pictures, but much of the movement is going back and forth between just 2 of them.

There are plenty of places where movement isn’t needed, and we hold on a still shot for a second or two. The face shots of the crowd, for example. Many other places reuse a simple move of a frame or two, like with Nick Fury’s head turns, and Captain Marvel’s switching on/off of the stereo.

While there are plenty of choppy motions, slightly out-of-focus shots and whatnot, I’m pretty happy with the result. It was only 3 days work, and is totally repeatable.

Check out our Stop-Motion hub for links to tutorials and other resources! It’s growing, so if there’s something missing, confusing, or broken, please let us know. We want to make it easy for you! Thanks for reading!


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