The invitation read as follows:
"Come experience some cool things heating up at the long lead Press Day for Disney's FROZEN."
In other words, how would I like to spend a day at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and meet the producer, directors, animation team, art directors, and tech geniuses behind the upcoming Disney animated film, FROZEN?
I have seen the iconic sorcerer's apprentice hat building many times while driving to Burbank. "That's the home of the Walt Disney Animation Studios." We always point it out. Always saying it in reverently hushed tones. "It must be magical in there." Sigh.
So to be invited to spend a day here and witness the "making of" moments for an animated feature film? Seriously? Somebody pinch me.
We were treated to a sneak preview of the film, FROZEN, which is a stunning, big-screen, comedy-adventure inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.
"Although ‘Frozen’ is inspired by Andersen’s classic tale,” says director Chris Buck ("Tarzan," "Surf's Up"), “our story is distinctly our own—fresh and new in spirit and style. It is wonderfully emotional, with plenty of action, adventure, magic and unforgettable characters.”
“A story that started as a very simple idea of the power of family has grown into something much bigger,” adds director Jennifer Lee ("Wreck It Ralph"), who wrote the screenplay. “It’s about fear versus love that’s told through a family’s journey—their struggle to overcome fear and find the true meaning of love.”
The preview did not disappoint. It has all the elements of the stuff that makes us love Disney films so much: stunning visuals, strong characters, fabulous storytelling.
We spent the day visiting with the talented folks who brought the story to life.
My favorite part of the day was when we got to play on the computers in the Rigging Lab. "Rigging" is CG animation-speak for "giving the characters expression and really making the film come to life," but that's not important right now.
I want to stop and have you appreciate this moment with me.
I. GOT. TO. PLAY. ON. THE. COMPUTERS. WHERE. THE. DISNEY. ANIMATORS. DO. THEIR. MAGIC.
I'm obviously still geeking out just a little over this.
They created a new piece of software they call, TONIC. Tonic allows the artists to really work with hair to make it look and act like, well…hair. You can see all the strands and how they wind up together in intricate braids and hairdos. TONIC is also used for when the characters have a bad hair day. Genius.
Not only does hair have to be animated, so does clothing. So they created CLOTH. With the goal being for the cloth to not just behave like cloth, but to act in a very directed manner to enhance the performance of the characters. I know. Mind blown.
One of the sweet characters in the film is called, Olaf. He's a snowman.
“For the animation team, Olaf was like a giant toy box,” adds Buck. “He’s made up of three balls of snow that can break apart and come together in different ways. His eyes can move around, his nose can slide in and out and off. His stick arms came off. Animators could do anything with him.”
Producer Peter Del Vecho: “Olaf is one of the funniest characters in the movie, but he also has an innocent view of the world, which allows him to say things that go right to the heart very quickly.”
We spent the day interviewing these talented folks, visiting their creative spaces and playing with their tools. And, of course, geeking out over it all. The world of Disney FROZEN came to life for us in a beautiful and intimate way, and honestly, I'm having a hard time picking out the highlights of our day because, for me, the day was absolute perfection.
The film promises to be a true Disney technological masterpiece, with delightful characters and lots of drama and hilarity.
FUN FACT: One of Anna’s favorite phrases—“Wait, what?”—was added to the script compliments of Kristen Bell. I so love that.
Listen for the "Wait, what?" in this trailer.
We toured and played and ate and talked and spent quite the magical day immersed in all things FROZEN. There's so much more I want to tell you, but I think I'll save that post for another day.
A great big THANK YOU to the good people at Disney for including My Big, Fat, Cuban Family in your beautiful and magical FROZEN world.
Check out these 15 seconds of pure Disney-geek-wow-they-animated-this-for-ME awesomeness. Totally made my day.
It was just really cool to be a part of it all. (<–See what I did there?)
Thanks for letting me overshare. It was truly a magical day.
FROZEN opens in theatres everywhere on November 27th, 2013.