Disclosure: This event and trip to LA was an all expense paid journey sponsored by Disney. All thoughts, ideas, and ramblings are 100% my own!
One of the top questions I have gotten since I have been back is “What did you do while you were in LA”. Well, this post is a glimpse into this awesome trip. Now, you are all heading out to see Frozen tomorrow, right? LOL My kids have a countdown to opening day. They tell me every morning how many more days till it opens.
First, I’m going to start off with our interview with the Frozen Directors: Disney veteran Director Chris Buck (“Tarzan”) and first-time Director Jennifer Lee (co-writer, “Wreck-It Ralph”) teamed up, along with longtime Disney Producer Peter Del Vecho (“The Princess & the Frog”, “Winnie the Pooh”) to create the epic comic adventure of Frozen.
How many years did you work on Frozen?
Chris Buck: I pitched it five years ago, and but really when it came down to production production, probably about two and a half years, um, all together. Jen joined us a little bit later. She was finishing up on Wreck It Ralph when we snatched her to help on this one. Usually for a movie like this, two and a half years is actually a very short time for me.
How hard was it to create the snow and ice?
Chris Buck: The ice was hard, because with a computer, the computer does everything perfectly. The first kind of ice that we saw looked more like glass or plastic. We realized ice has imperfections in it, it has flaws, and so we had to put those imperfections in. Then it started to look really good. We also did research. We went to an ice hotel in Quebec City. We saw how the sunlight would come through the ice and how beautiful the different rooms were.
Jennifer Lee: We had a crew go to Cheyenne Wyoming, and we got all our animators to wear big skirts with corsets. Both the men and the women had to walk through deep snow and understand what that means. (Note from me: I totally loved that they did this. It gave everyone the true sense of difficult it is.)
What was important in this film is that we didn’t want the characters just walking on top of snow. We wanted the integration, and doing integration with snow, we had to completely build programs to do that. We didn’t have anything like it. The Technology Team just pushed it. They were amazing in what they did.
There is that scene where she builds the ice palace. There’s one shot there’s a very long shot where you enter it as it’s building and you rise up. It took maybe four or five months working on it to finalize that scene. Four hundred people had all touched that scene just to make that happen.
Chris Buck: One frame took like thirty hours to render.
Jennifer Lee: And there’s twenty four frames a second so, we have four thousand computers all rendering that one shot, at the same time, so we’re like, whew. (when it was finished)
What can you tell us about the actor’s auditions and casting for Frozen?
Chris Buck: Well we always knew that this was going to have songs in it. When they came in for auditions, they also had to sing a song. Um, Kristen was the first one that we saw for Anna, and her singing voice was a really amazing surprise for us. We knew that obviously Idina yeah because I mean what do you say about her singing, unbelievable and her acting is amazing too. Kristen was a big surprise, how beautiful her singing voice was.
Josh was one of the first ones that we said for Olaf. Although his character changed a bit as we went through it, the voice was always Josh.
Jennifer Lee: I really feel like we couldn’t do a lot without Josh, because he was on a different project, we couldn’t get him. I struggled so much writing Olaf, because I needed the actor. The kind of comedian it took the part is- the comedy of the part, the heart and the warmth of it- I could write it superficially. Luckily Josh was available again.
Chris Buck: Even though some of these, we found early on, in terms of setting the bar high, we still auditioned both here and in New York and probably saw fifty seventy-five people per role.
Jennifer Lee: Jonathan Groff was fun because when I came on was right around we were talking about him. But Kristoff was originally supposed to be very gruff. They were really looking for a deep voice and- and just- gravelly and Jonathan came in.
Chris Buck: Santino who is a Broadway actor, he’s on Broadway right now in Cinderella– (as Price Charming) he came in with an audition song. He sang. It was more he thought the character was a little more Gaston like, so he came in with a version of, you know, the song, I Feel Pretty. (He changed the lyrics to I Am Pretty.)
We talked to them about a ton of stuff. It was so cool to hear the inspiration and how they make such great movies like Frozen. There is so much work involved in animation than drawing a picture. To be honest, I never realized how much!
I also have to show you some of the story boards that we saw. It was so cool:
The last thing I have to tell you about is rigging. Now, I had no idea what rigging was before I visited the Disney Animation Studios. However, without rigging everything would move in 2D. It looks like cardboard. What rigging does is creates a skelaton and movement, so the characters move just like you and I. However, it sounds so much easier than it was. LOL
We also got to see how rigging changes how things look on screen so that everything literally flows the way the animators want. Sometimes, a dress needs to flair up where it naturally wouldn’t. That is where the riggers do their work. They truly are the unsung hereos of animation that we never hear about. I even got to do some rigging of my own on Olaf:
I know, lots of information for you all today! Are you excited — my review of Frozen goes live tomorrow!