Frozen – A Look at Frozen, the Upcoming Disney Animated Film

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disney, Disney News

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Published on October 13, 2013 at 1:30 am with 13 Comments

It is a rare treat indeed to get a chance to peek into the future.  But that’s exactly what happened when MiceChat was invited to visit the hallowed halls of Walt Disney Animation for a sneak preview of Walt Disney Picture’s upcoming film, Frozen.

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The film, whose initial teaser preview depicts a battle of wits between a large reindeer named Sven and a doughy snowman named Olaf, initially provoked a collective groan from the Disney fan community as it seemed to resemble the zany Scrat Cartoons from Dreamworks Ice Age.

While comical, the initial trailer you’ve all seen wasn’t the best example of what the full film is really about. A little voice deep inside told us that there was a lot more to this upcoming film than trying to ape another studio’s franchise.  We are glad to report that the trailer above was but a flake of snow from an avalanche of rich creativity and story telling that was soon to be shared.

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As we entered the base of the large, blue sorcerer’s hat entrance to Walt Disney Animation we noticed the walls were decorated with amazing character studies from the new movie.  Life size standees of the new Snow Queen and her sister Anna stood along the hallway.  They depicted not only their characteristics but allowed a close look at the stunning detail in the costume designs. Further down the hall a massive snow creature loomed.  Highly detailed, granulated snow made up the surface of this wild creation. The details and true character emoting from these mere pieces of static art gave us pause.  Would Frozen live up to the Disney name?

We were to be treated to approximately 25 minutes of footage from the new film.  Set in the fjords of Norway, in a fictional kingdom of Arendelle, sisters Anna and Elsa grow and play together.   Elsa’s magical gift for snow is kept secret until one fateful day when an accident sends her running into the nearby mountains for exile.  It is then up to Anna to reach her sister before Arendelle is consumed by a never-ending winter.

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The thing that was most striking in the footage that we enjoyed was, most importantly, the emotion.  The storyline earns the emotional notes it tries to reach and pulls you in with real substance instead of pandering to audiences for cheap laughs.

The other notable feature of the film was the seemingly endless frozen landscape.   Snow covered pines bathed in cool tones of blue and white painted so convincing a picture that you could practically feel the ice-cold air on your face. This was not the plasticine rendering ability of a lesser studio.  This was the clear ability of Disney’s Computer animation division finding its technical footing after creating films like Tangled and Wreck-it-Ralph.  They were using their technological savvy to convey the story’s sense of place rather than dictate its limitations.

This wasn’t Tangled on ice.  But rather a fully realized story with an emotional drive, and an attention to detail that enhanced story.

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After the footage we were then invited to meet the film makers behind the movie.  Leaving the screening room we made our way into the hive of creativity.  We learned all about the look of the film, and why certain elements were chosen.  We also got to meet the animators to ask them how they give life to a computer rendering. We also got to spend a large amount of time with the technical crew that developed the engines and systems behind the convincing snow effects.  They offered us a little treat.

A short animation, to be sure, but one that demonstrated the physics of snow, how it falls, how it clumps and how it behaves.  The thought that is put into each and every detail on a film like this is , to be honest, overwhelming and very impressive.

But what do these artists do to learn how to animate the seemingly boring details of snow?  What is their research like.  Who dictates how long to spend on an animated snowflake and why is any of this important?  We will share the answers in our next article on Disney’s Frozen.

Suffice it to say that, after visiting the studios and seeing the awe-inspiring work behind this film, we are eager to see the rest of the movie.

 

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • Zeathos51

    Thanks for the preview. Disney’s animation department is my favorite aspect of the company even more than the parks but only by one iota. By the way, this is the second time I heard about this. When was the preview and was it only open to the press?

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      It was a small press only event a couple of weeks ago. We weren’t expecting much based upon that teaser trailer linked above. But the actual film looks great and has a nice pace and story, from what we could tell of the chunk we were allowed to view.

      Folks who loved Tangled will be thrilled. This is a story Disney has toyed with since the days of Walt. We’re looking forward to it.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    I am trying to figure out how the troll plays into things. Is he a villain? I’ve seen a troll in concept art they have shown. I am dying to know more about the story!!!

    • pineapplewhipaddict

      The troll is good, but you’ll have to see the movie to know what his? involvement is! It would spoil some of the story for you!

  • fnord

    Since when did the snow queen have a sister? And where’s the little boy and girl
    that are the main story? I saw an animated version in the sixties that was very
    compelling and well done.

    • pineapplewhipaddict

      Disney never sticks with the complete original fairy tale. In the original version of Cinderella, her two evil step-sisters weren’t ugly, just vain. The payment for their vanity? Birds attacked they and pecked out their eyes. And in the original story of The Little Mermaid, the mermaid does not win the heart of the prince and dies in the sea.

      The choice to make the Snow Queen have a sister, in my mind, will make the story resonate stronger with audiences, as they will be able to relate with the Snow Queen and see her more on a human level, instead of a negative “ice queen” misogynistic stereotype. I think that is what Disney was struggling with for all of those years that the film was in development, from what I’ve read, anyway. And this way, the audience still gets the importance of family as a message, but it hits closer to home.

  • DobbysCloset

    My eight-year-old inner self, the one that likes funny animal cartoons, wants a reindeer.

    Seriously, I DO see the resemblance to “Ice Age” and Scrat, but mostly that’s the generic “computer animated funny animals in the snow” common ground. And I don’t mind the snow queen having a sister. But I wish girls could get stuff done without bringing along boyfriends. At eight, I think boys are gross.

    • pineapplewhipaddict

      Anna enlists the help of a man that sells ice for a living, so he is better-equipped at navigating the treacherous frozen landscape. Anna is actually a major klutz, and realistically it would not be safe for anyone to go out into an eternal winter storm alone.

      Also, who said this film was just made to please little girls? It should be fun for everyone!

  • 101 Dalmatians

    Can’t wait to see this with my family.

  • BuckyRister

    a) Ice Age was Blue Sky, not DreamWorks
    b) This article told us almost nothing. You saw 25 minutes, it was emotional, the first trailer was just a tease, which everyone already knew. You saw some cool production art and a snow monster. But you don’t give us any details or insight. For instance: “We learned all about the look of the film, and why certain elements were chosen.” You learned them, but you don’t tell us. “We also got to meet the animators to ask them how they give life to a computer rendering.” And what did they say? “We also got to spend a large amount of time with the technical crew that developed the engines and systems behind the convincing snow effects.” And…? What did they tell you?

    This reads like a middle-school report after going on a field trip. “We saw the Lincoln Memorial. We learned a lot. Then we went to the Jefferson Memorial. Then we had lunch.”

  • JulieMouse

    Thank you, thank you for this! I have been so excited for this film since they talked about it at D23 Expo more than two years ago. It’s nice to hear someone else talk positively about Frozen! I have continued to be excited even as the trailer came out and many fans became convinced it wouldn’t be a good movie; I continue to hope and believe (to a great degree) that the movie will be a great example of Disney storytelling because the funny little trailer was not telling the whole, rich story….there is more and I’m excited to see it myself!!

  • pineapplewhipaddict

    Also, for anyone that is interested, Disney has released another trailer that gives you a better idea of what the film is. It’s been out for a while now, but Japan and France got it first.

  • Not My Real Name

    I’m unfamiliar with the original story, so maybe I’ll like it since I won’t be disappointed that some things were left out or changed.