Category Archives: DISNEY FROZEN
It’s a long process to bring a movie to life.
At the Frozen press day at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, I got the rare opportunity to try my hand at becoming an animator myself!
I learned from the special effects team that one of the many challenges of making Frozen was shooting the film with all the angles and the camera tracking. In an empty room, six LED lights track the movement of the camera. On the computers, however, it’s a different story. When the camera moves, the tracker on the computer moves as well.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to map an organic, three-dimensional motion for a layout artist from the real world into the virtual,” says Evan Goldberg, Disney Animation’s Manager of Technology. “How do we decide where to put the camera to tell the story in the best possible way? How dramatic do we want it to be?”
The five monitors in the room begin to play a blocked out, pre-production scene from the movie, where Sven the reindeer is dashing towards a falling ship. I got to experiment with the camera, which showed what I would be seeing had I been standing in the virtual room myself. I could move the camera wherever I wanted in the virtual world. I could stand right next to the ship and watch Sven dash towards me, I could shoot the sky and swing downwards, I could run with Sven and make the scene as thrilling as possible – the possibilities in the virtual room were endless.
Another department was the character development. “This department is primarily responsible for building character rigs, the cloth rigs and running stimulation on the show,” says Frank Hanner, character CO Supervisor.
The riggers build skeletons to the characters, attach muscles and skin on the characters, and build animator controls to allow the animator to determine how the characters move around – from a slight smile to skipping down the street.
In Frozen, there are 312 unique character rigs, more rigging done than on any other Disney film. There are 245 cloth stimulation rigs, an impressive number because it is more than double the number of all stimulated costumes in the combined Disney films preceeding Frozen.
“An average human has a 100,000 hairs on their head. Elsa has 420,000 hairs on her head. She has really thick, lustrous beautiful hair. Our last very famous Disney leading lady was Rapunzel, who only had 27,000 hairs,” explained Hanner.
In the end, I tried my hand at animating Olaf, the snowman who has the uncanny ability to disassemble his body. The countless buttons and controls took a while to get used to, but soon I realized it’s ridiculously fun to stretch Olaf’s mouth as wide as possible or make him cross-eyed and silly.
Cool off with Frozen, in theaters November 27!
For a movie about a kingdom locked in winter, Frozen is as heart-warming as the summer sun. Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”, Disney brings to life a beautiful tale of sisterly love, a story structured in a way that differs from archetypal Disney Princess movies. Anna and Elsa are sisters, and best friends—at least, in their childhood years. With her power to sculpt winter wonderlands of snow and ice, Elsa accidently strikes Anna. Elsa isolates herself from Anna by retreating into her shell of fear, wrestling with her uncontrollable wintry power. Come coronation day, her emotions are released, and Elsa triggers an eternal winter over the kingdom of Arendelle. Branded as a “monster,” Elsa flees into the mountains to protect those she loves the most. Plucky high-spirited Anna, along with mountain man Kristoff and his lovable reindeer Sven, sets out to find her sister and bring summer back to the kingdom.
It’s a wonderful, gorgeously rendered musical. Taking place in the enchanted Scandinavian fjords complete with breath-taking dramatic cliffs and the resplendent Aurora lights, the kingdom is unique in its design unlike any other Disney realm. My hat goes off to the artists who crafted this tour de force. Elsa’s icy powers enchant in the thousands of ways that snow and ice reflect light, depending on her mercurial personality. Her ice castle is splendidly magnificent—it’s tall, proud, regal, and poised, much like the way Elsa tries to carry herself on the outside.
The songs, penned by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, tell the story in a fantastic way, appealing to raw emotion and heart. Disney’s casting of Kristen Bell (Anna) and Idina Menzel (Elsa) is unsurpassable. Combine these two powerhouse voices together with poignant, emotional melodies and you get a duet that will send shivers down your spine. The songs also add a touch of comedy with witty lyrics, such as the musical number by show-stealer Olaf (Josh Gad), a talking snowman with interchangeable parts created by Elsa. He has a hilariously unhealthy obsession with the hot summer, a season with dangers that Olaf is quite merrily unaware of.
Frozen breaks out of the standard princess movie cutouts by the Anna-Elsa sister dynamic and also, by not revealing the antagonist until late in the movie. Their sisterhood is complicated, but Disney doesn’t shy away from exploring this relationship. Anna represents love and Elsa represents fear. This is an allusion to the film’s title in that Anna must thaw Elsa’s frozen heart. Produced by the Tangled crew, there are a few similarities between Rapunzel and Anna, not just in the way they look, but that Anna has also been behind closed doors for most of her life. I love the fact that Anna is not just a very fearless protagonist, but also she is strong-willed, stubborn, extremely awkward, easily excitable, and very relatable. Frozen also throws in a couple unconventional ideas about true love, deviating from The Little Mermaid‘s love-at-first-sight syndrome.
Disney is starting to break out of its traditional mold, giving audiences a refreshing ride through uncharted lands. It’s a triumph in its own rights, 5 stars out of 5, a jewel in the crown of the Disney vault. Aesthetically stunning, Frozen is an enchanting tale that will tug on your heartstrings and leave you with a feeling of breathless wonder. It is accompanied by the short “Get A Horse,” which literally bursts out of film boundaries, showcasing creative impeccable animation of the Mickey Mouse crew. Be sure to catch Frozen in theaters, November 27! All Ages.