Bringing the Magical Fantasy World of Frozen to Life! #DisneyFrozen

Written By Jesse Delia:

***Disclosure: I solely received an invite to this media day. All opinions are my own.***

Written By Jesse: The King of Swag!


The upcoming Disney Animated Feature Frozen not only has a grand scope in terms of its story, but also in its technology. During my trip to Burbank’s Disney Animation Studio, I and a few lucky bloggers, were given a special behind the scenes look at the technology and art of Frozen.


Though Frozen is a fantasy tale, the story is Scandinavian in origin and so inspiration for the setting came from Norway.  Art director Mike Giaimo and his team traveled to Norway to absorb the atmosphere and become immersed with the culture. They took note of the architecture, researched the local mythologies, and visited fortresses, castles, shops museums, cathedrals, fjords and glaciers.


The inspiration for the castle of Arendelle came from Oslo’s medieval Akershus Castle, and the city of Trondheim’s Stiftsgården Royal Palace. Even the clothing patterns were inspired from rosemaling, a style of decorative folk art found throughout Norway’s history. Mr. Giaimo decided to blend this traditional Norwegian clothing with old Hollywood panache and a bold color palette to create a unique look for the wardrobe in Frozen.


The research was so in depth that animators even studied ice and snow, which does play a major role in the story. In an effort to perfect Elsa’s icy magic, filmmakers called on Dr. Thomas Painter (known as “Dr. Snow”) a scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, to learn about snowflakes from a molecular level. But there was fun and travel to be had as well. Several members of the production team traveled to Quebec to experience the Ice Hotel to get inspiration for Elsa’s ice palace.


Of course a gorgeous setting is almost useless without characters with which to interact.  One of the main characters in Frozen is Sven the reindeer. Research for Sven included bringing a real live reindeer into the Animation Studio. Unfortunately, the only thing the skilled and creative animators learned was that reindeers do not do much but stand still. By chance, the reindeer did scratch an itch similar to the way a dog would scratch. This got the creative juices flowing in the Animators. So while Sven maintains the appearance of a reindeer, he behaves like Kristoff’s dog.


In addition to the reindeer, the animators met with the human performers as well. Idina Menzel (Elsa) was a particular help. Animation Head for Frozen Lino DiSalvo talked about Idina’s singing technique and studying her breath and diaphragm. In Elsa’s musical number “Let it Go,” we saw everything implemented which created a very powerful and passionate scene. Animation Supervisors Wayne Unten and Becky Bresee both discussed how they used themselves as templates for the finishing touches on their characters.


Wayne, who is a male, would come in after hours and lock himself in his office with the music turned up as he acted out Elsas’s performance in front of mirror. Becky Bresee showed us video of her doing an Anna performance, which she later used to help finish one of her scenes.

The vast scale of this project is completely mind-blowing. Since its creation, Disney Animation has been leading the way in technology that helps bring their magical stories to fruition and their accomplishment in Frozen is no exception. I love seeing the creativity and truly passionate dedication from these storytellers. Their love for their work translates into their product and that is where Disney’s true magic is derived. I hope like me you will take note and appreciate the technological and artistic achievement while being entertained by Disney’s Frozen.

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FROZEN opens in theatres everywhere on November 27th!