For anyone that has ever seen a Disney movie, you know how magical the experience is. We all have our favorites, from the classics to the newly-released.
I loved watching Disney animation movies with my family growing up and I think it’s even more incredible being able to experience these same movies with my two little girls. They cuddle up with me just the same way I did with my mom when I was younger and I watch as their eyes light up at the magic that appears onscreen.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Disney Animation Studios for an exclusive tour of the studio as well as a chance to meet with the directors, prodders, and animators of the newest Disney animation film, Frozen, which opens in theaters today.
Prior to the visit I attended the red carpet premiere of Frozen and saw the film for the first time. Going in I had seen previews, but didn’t know the premise behind the story other than it was about sisters. After watching it, it has quickly become one of my favorite Disney movies.
Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) are sisters who have a loving and strong bond with one another. But Elsa has a secret power that turns everything into ice. After Elsa’s powers turn the entire kingdom of Arendelle into an eternal winter, she runs away and Anna sets out to find her. The story of her adventure is one of love, loss, and my favorite part, the importance of family.
Having a sister and being the mom of two little girls, this movie will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s unlike any Disney story ever told and shows the true meaning of love in a way that we haven’t seen before.
After seeing this film I was even more excited to visit the Disney Animation Studio to get a look at some of the behind the scenes footage that went into making the film. I was also very honored to meet the the directors, producer, and animators to hear them tell us first hand how they created this magical story.
Disney Animation Studios 1 of 10
The Disney Animation Studios is located in Burbank, California and is the home of both traditional and computer animated films. This is such a magical place because it is where all of the characters to your favorite Disney films are brought to life.
Meet the Directors and Producer 2 of 10
Our morning started off meeting the makers behind the film. Director Chris Buck and first-time Director Jennifer Lee (who also wrote the film) along with Producer Peter Del Vecho engaged us in all of the details of the making of Frozen. Loosely based on "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christen Anderson, the characters of Anna and Elsa weren't originally sisters. They looked at the idea of mother and daughter, but Buck suggested that they look at the true act of love that could be a different thing. Once they came up with the connections of the girls being sisters, the story just took off. The film, which took about 2 1/2 years to make, involved a lot of research including visiting an ice hotel, a trip to Norway, bringing in a real reindeer, and even finding the name inspirations from a quick internet search of Norwegian baby names.
Elsa 3 of 10
The studio was filled with these story boards for each character in the film. Elsa is the older sister with this magical power that turns everything into ice and snow. She is so powerful that it must remain a secret from everyone, including her sister. Elsa lives with the internal struggle of trying to hide and suppress her powers, but when she can't hold it in any longer, she accidentally turns the entire kingdom into an eternal winter and runs away. The animators who created Elsa took the time to actually act out each scene for themselves on camera before doing the animation to try to get a sense of the mannerisms of what Elsa might be doing in real life.
Anna 4 of 10
Anna is the fun loving and goofy princess that every girl can relate to. After being the best of friends with her sister when they were little, she hopes to find that relationship with her again. After Elsa turns the entire kingdom into ice and runs away, she sets out on a dangerous adventure to try to find her and make everything better. Throughout the film Anna shows you the true meaning of family. When making the film the directors always wanted a heroine that was flawed and had these imperfections like us. She's an ordinary girl that's got love as her only superpower. But her journey goes from not understanding love to mature love and the ultimate kind of understanding which is the sacrifice you're willing to do for love.
Hans 5 of 10
Hans plays Anna's love interest in the film. Anna and Hans fall madly in love very quickly and while Anna is off trying to find Elsa, Hans is left behind to take care of Arendelle . This charming man makes it easy to see just why Anna is so smitten with him.
Kristoff 6 of 10
Kristoff is an outdoorsman that sells ice to the kingdom of Arendelle with his lovable pet reindeer, Sven. After living by himself most of his life he is very set in his ways and does not like to listen to the opinions from anyone else. He runs into Anna while on her journey to find her sister and reluctantly helps lend a hand.
Olaf 7 of 10
Olaf will quickly become one of the favorite characters in the film. Created by Elsa from her magical powers, Olaf is the comic relief in the movie. The directors of the film gave Josh Gad, who plays the voice of Olaf, a lot of freedom when it came to the creation of this character. Many of his scenes were improvised and most of those cuts made it into the film.
Rough Sketches of Olaf 8 of 10
It's so amazing just to walk the halls and see them lined with the rough sketches from each scene of the movie. It brings another sense of realness to the film. Olaf was one of my favorite characters in the film, so it was extra special for me to see what went into creating him.
Rigging 9 of 10
We had the chance to visit the rigging lab to see just how these characters are brought to life. The character technical directors put the 3D animation with things similar to bones and joints so that they can then give each character real life movements and expressions. We had the chance to do our own rigging with Olaf, and while the process is very fun, it is extremely hard work and helps give you much more admiration for the hard work that goes into making an animated film.
Character Rigging 10 of 10
During the rigging process, the character technical directors give each character all the details to make them look more life like. That includes adding hair. If you look at the hair of the characters in the film, you will not believe how realistic looks. Those fly aways that we have everyday? Take a close look at Anna and Elsa and they have them too. Elsa has more than 419,000 hairs on her head, all that were put there in a unique process in the rigging lab. It's so amazing to see how much goes into the making of these characters.
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Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!