It started on Tuesday morning when Gabe wondered how you got a LEGO man to move by itself.
After devouring YouTube videos of other people’s LEGO Star Wars movies, my five year old son has been bursting to make his own.
Together we made a ground of random flat LEGO boards. (We did have moon-scape LEGO boards, but as Gabe pointed out, “They don’t go to the moon in Star Wars, dad!”) Then we made a background wall with random blocks so that the dining room was blotted out.
With the scenery made, I set up my netbook (running Ubuntu) in front so that frames of the movie could be captured by the computer’s built-in camera.
Now the tricky line that every dad has to walk when helping their child when a project: at what point does “helping” step over into “doing it for them.”
I realised I was on dangerous ground when the following discussion/argument broke out:
“No dadda. He has to have his gun down.”
“But if his has his gun down, he won’t stick properly to the board. How about here, at a slight angle.”
“NO dadda. He has to have his gun DOWN.”
“Look Gabe. Which is bigger, his gun or his leg?”
“Exactly! So if his gun is straight down, then he won’t stick properly on the board!”
“No dadda. He has to have his gun DOWN!”
Luckily for both of us, I gave up. I showed him how to take photos using the computer, then retired to my room with a coffee and a book.
Some time later, he showed me his efforts. I know he is my son, and I’ll be impressed at anything he does. But, hell, I was IMPRESSED. There was a certain amount of figures appearing out of nowhere, but then there were the moments where one frame contained the cause and the next had the effect. Anakin’s lightsabre moved, and then the droid was on his back. The speederbike (unfortunately a bit out of frame) moved off around the back of the wall. He moved the camera for the scene of the trooper on the speederbike.
All little pieces of evidence that he is beginning to understand the process of narrative and story telling.
I collected these images, uploaded them onto my MacBook Pro, dumped them into iMovie, removed the (goddamned) Ken Burn effect, and had a rough movie. We played it a couple of times while Gabe worked out what he wanted to say, then I hit the voice-over button and let him riff. One minute (and one take) later, he had laid his voice and sound effects track.
The finished product is magical.
And most importantly, proof that the doing hasn’t driven out the desire, he is keen to make another one!
In related news, his video has been blogged on Wired’s Geek Dad.
With all this fame, I hope it doesn’t go to Gabe’s head and he ends up going over his old classic movie, rotoscoping out the dining room table, and digitally making the droids shoot first. Maybe the emotion of the scene is lost and one of the troopers should go “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO…” Hmmm.