The Magic of Creating Snow for Disney's upcoming Animated Film "Frozen"

To celebrate the upcoming release of Disney’s animated feature film “Frozen,” the studio invited members of the press to see about 30 minutes of the film, which included the original song “Let it Go,” featuring Idina Menzel. The comedy-adventure follows Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), who sets off on an epic journey to find her sister, meeting Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven along the way. Elsa (voiced by Menzel) has used her powers to trap Arendelle in an eternal winter, and Anna and her new friends must battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Throughout the day we had the opportunity to learn about the animation process and how the filmmakers used state of the art technology to create some amazing animation special effects.

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One of the workshops we attended was The Character of Snow. We had the pleasure of meeting with Evan Goldberg (Animation Technology Manager), Dale Mayeda (Co-FX Supervisor), Marlon West (FX Supervisor) and Andy Selle (Principal Software Engineer), who were very excited to share their experience on working with “Frozen.” Walt Disney Animation has created some new tools for generating trees, adding snow, doing snow simulation, having characters walk in that snow and be able to behave in an art-directable fashion that they fit a certain aesthetic. Creating animated snow was a challenge since each snowflake is unique because it travels in different ways. So Disney decided to create their own snowflake generator which creates over 2000 snowflake shapes. The work they do at the Walt Disney Animation studios is not about realism but more about believability. Also there is a certain amount of homework done to create the magical worlds we see on screen with research trips to various locations.

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The team at Disney was excited to work on a film like “Frozen” and using that new technology to make the film even better. So why is snow so hard to work with? Characters have to interact with the snow, digging into it, get covered with it and walk in the snow. It’s always difficult because this really gives the audience a chance to see it close up without seeing all the usual FX Tricks.

Some other technologies that were used in “Frozen” include special motion cameras that are equipped with LED Lights that can track motion. It can put the FX Animations in the virtual world. Using a camera rig setup with motion sensors, the animations can track movements and use various types of camera angles to follow the animation sequences. Instead of using traditional 3D Animation software like Maya, which are hard to navigate around with a mouse and keyboard, this system allows smooth movement frame by frame. This also creates natural movement.

Check-out this Snow Demo that was created by Walt Disney Animation Studios exclusively for Socalthrills! This will give you an idea how detailed and textured the snow is.

It was fun to see these animators use computer technologies to bring to life a movie that is sure to please all ages. “Frozen” hits theaters in 3D on Nov. 27, 2013. For more information, check out Disney.com/Frozen, like us on Facebook: facebook.com/DisneyFrozen and follow us on Twitter: Twitter.com/DisneyAnimation.

We will be posting more behind-the-scenes of “Frozen” in the coming weeks. So be sure to come back and visit Socalthrills.com often!

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