FORTY FORT — Jake Ruderman, of West Pittston, had the ultimate idea for an easy-to-make movie: “The invisible man.”
No need to keep moving little LEGO figures in tiny incremental steps that turn 30 individual pictures into one second of animation, just film an empty space and add dialogue.
Actually, Ruderman, 10, was working on a short clip — six seconds or so — of a big rig truck moving along a green LEGO landscape during Monday’s LEGO movie session, the first of five this week for several area grades two through eight at Wyoming Seminary Middle School.
The younger grades had worked on simple stop-motion techniques earlier in the morning, while older students were at the Apple laptops in the afternoon.
Ruderman had already put together 100 frames to make a video lasting 3.3 seconds. Sitting next to him, Margaret Mihalick, also 10, had mashed up three seemingly disparate LEGO mini figures: a Yeti snow monster stripped of its arms, Apu, the Kwik-E-Mart operator from “The Simpsons,” and Wyldstyle, the tri-color hair heroine from “The LEGO Movie.”
This was clearly not a room for the unimaginative.
Wyoming Seminary English teacher and LEGO movie instructor Jason Sherry said he uses free software that makes stop-action video a matter of positioning the character in front of a computer web cam, pushing the space bar to take a picture, moving the character and repeating as necessary.
Younger children tend to work at 15 frames per second with broad movements — a walking LEGO character may travel from left to right without ever moving his legs — while the older students work at 30 frames per second so they can capture smaller movements such as an arm rising and hand turning, creating more fluid motion in the videos.
Within fairly broad boundaries, the students get free rein in their creativity. Which may be why Mehalchick’s first video in a class two years ago was “Woman gets sawed in half.”
The daily classes are held through the week, and students will advance to adding dialogue and sound. In the past, some have made clips that last three minutes and longer, he added.
Oliver Lew, an 11-year-old from Dallas, spent about 10 minutes Monday creating a movie about “superpower failures” in which a “Star Wars” storm trooper gets crushed, tries to fly and falls, bursts into flames and otherwise has a bad day.
“No clones were harmed in the making of this video,” Lew said, “until now.”