In the past few years Disney Animation Studios took on a resurgence in popularity, which isn’t too surprising to see right now. After some major renovations within the company, they gracefully moved into the next generation of animation with a couple of memorable Disney animated films such as “The Princess and the Frog” and “Tangled.” Their latest movie was so incredibly charming, how could they top that? From the footage that was shown during a presentation for Disney’s latest movie “Frozen,” I can easily say that the studio has outdone themselves once again.
The day began with all of us journalists huddling up inside a theater and watching the adorable new Mickey Mouse short “Get A Horse.” This was my second time seeing it, the first being at the D23 Expo, but I was still laughing it up with everyone else. It’s a really cool short that integrates hand drawn animation and CG together, and it works perfectly. Of course Disney manages to pull off this type of short film flawlessly. It’s to be expected of them by this point.
Then we moved onto the number one thing I was looking forward to the most; the “Frozen” footage. At this year’s D23 Expo we got to watch a couple clips of the movie. We saw Anna’s (Kristen Bell) first awkward meeting with the young prince Hans (Santino Fontana) and Olaf the snowman’s big song about how much he wants to experience summertime, even though he doesn’t realize what happens to snow during the summer. But then the new footage showed us something I’ve been waiting to see for awhile, which is showing more information on the story line between sisters Anna and Elsa (Idina Menzel). We see how their relationship is towards each other, how distant Elsa is and how her power ends up cloaking the entire kingdom in this indefinite winter. Along with that, we got a glimpse of Anna’s first encounter with the burly but handsome Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). Then we saw/heard “Let It Go,” Elsa’s big song as she breaks away from the kingdom and uses her power to its full potential. Ten bucks says that “Let It Go” turns into an Oscar nominated song.
After the footage presentation was over, we were shuffled off to different areas of the animation building where we found out more of what it took to create “Frozen.” The one part of the animation process that’s always fascinated me ever since I was a kid was how to line up the voice performances with the movements of these fictional characters. When the Head of Animation, Lino DiSalvo, talked to us, he explains that there’s a lot more that you have to factor in other than making sure the voices are synced up properly to a pair of animated lips. He went into detail about how he worked with Idina Menzel on her song “Let It Go” and how they integrated it to the character’s performance in the animation.
Lino DiSalvo: We would talk about technique, singing, and breath was a huge thing for us on this film. It’s something that we very, very, very much wanted to get right. For those of you are familiar with acting techniques, breathing’s obviously the foundation of your scene. We very, very much approach this film with the sensitivity of what the character’s breath was like. So, having Idina come in, talk about her singing technique, which is something that was very important to us, ’cause obviously the Elsa character sings an amazing song. Her costume that she wore, you could see her breath and her diaphragm and the breathing and all that echoing and that tension. Getting that stuff right was incredibly important for us. So, as soon as we got the script, we had the acting coaches. Soon as the actors are announced, we bring them in. And the journey of finding who the characters were before we animated it — every film’s goal here to obviously find the characters before you start the film, but with these characters and their big moments, it was incredibly important for us to be in a very comfortable spot. When you issue an animator, a scene with the hero characters, they knew what to do with it.
Lino DiSalvo: This is the shape language to help define what the CG model’s gonna look like. This is Elsa. And having some of the best hand-drawing animators in the world here working with the CG animators and everyone mixed in together is a ideal situation.
After that brief animation presentation, it was time to go into the rigging portion of the event. We were given the chance to interact with how key scenes would integrate this incredible rigging in order to get the angle of the shot right in the animation. It felt as if we were a part of the process, and nothing makes me happier than finding out more on how different aspects of an animated film is done. Check out this little picture below, giving you a glimpse of how this crazy machine looks like.
This is just the first of three articles that will be popping up on ShockYa throughout October showing the cool animation process with Disney’s latest film “Frozen.” Keep your eyes out for the second article next week!