Michael Lee on animating Frozen
So that’s their (blatantly misogynistic) excuse for scrapping all but two of the female characters; that they’re too hard to animate? Those emotional female characters, they’re all the same, right? Here’s a hint: their “femaleness” isn’t what’s making them indistinguishable.
Frozen keeps getting better and better.
You morons do realize that less than ten years ago, it was considered next to IMPOSSIBLE to animate HAIR with CGI? I mean, ANY type of hair. When Pixar was making the Incredibles, they were so worried they wouldn’t be able to properly animate Violet, and went on and on about how her hair was so ridiculously hard to animate. VIOLET’S HAIR.
They had to develop and create entirely new programs to animate Rapunzel. Those programs are brand new, literally less than 4-5 years old. It takes TIME to develop new animation techniques, especially in a field of animation that is so new.
And you wonder why the protagonists of Frozen look so similar to Rapunzel. It’s because Rapunzel is their baseline. She’s their first big CGI female character (the only other CGI films Disney had done before Tangled were Treasure Planet, a animation-CGI hybrid, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt). She’s their first major CGI project with the technology they used in Tangled and Frozen. It takes Pixar literally YEARS to create each new project that they do. And you’ll notice, that the only Pixar character to have significant amounts of hair since Violet was Merida, and they had to develop like three COMPLETELY NEW programs to animate her hair.
Basically, this stuff takes time and money to develop, and stylistically, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that Anna looks similar to Rapunzel, given that Disney often uses the same default facial structure from decade to decade (Wendy and Alice, Aurora and Anita, Ariel and Belle, etc) while their new animation style is in development.
I swear, it’s like you people have no clue how animation actually works, or how freaking ridiculously hard it actually is. Show some respect, please.
I’m going to reblog myself to add some context.
This is the article that the quote is from. The quote is unattributed.
Also included in this same article are these gems:
"Depending on the shot, it can take up to 4,000 computers and 30 hours just to complete one frame."
"Just in effects alone, it took over 50 people to make the the scene of Elsa building her ice palace during her musical number. According to the directors, it took “forever” to render."
"One of the challenges of Frozen was that the TD department had to populate the entire kingdom with people. In this case, the department ended up building 312 character rigs, 245 cloth rigs, and 63 hair rigs. It’s more rigs the department has build than any of the other Disney films.
- To put that into perspective Anna’s character had 420,000 strands of hair; that’s 4.2 times more than a human.
- Just in case you care keeping count, in Tangled, Rapunzel had 27,000 strands of hair.”
(remember how I said earlier that the animators talked loads about animating Rapunzel’s hair, body, and face, and how they basically created the programs they animated Tangled with from scratch? Yeah….)
"To cope with Anna and Elsa’s challenging Scandinavian hair braid style, the TD department built a new software called Tonic, which harks back to the hold barbershop days. Tonic used hair volumes and clumps, which would help build the strands and translate it into the vision. How the hair fell into place or if the character “had a bad hair day” helped the animators get an idea of how hair would work."
The TD Department approached the cloths from a real world perspective. Using a pattern based approach. The team built new software called Flourish to capture the sheer, stretch, and gravity in a more convincing way so they can best represent silks, wools, and other clothing based materials. For example, by adding motions to a horses’ stirrups or tassels, they can dictate its behavior or the way it moves.
"The effects team were even conscious of how the wind would flow through hair and cloth. A variety of controlled simulations were done with the strength and length of the wind varying."
"Acting coaches were brought in to help animators create major and subtle character movements. So when you see Anna bite her lip, or Elsa’s diaphragm move, this is something both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, respectively, do in real life. Basically if it made it more believable, the animators put that in.”
…have fun guys.
I get that Frozen has been an amazing effort on a lot of people’s parts—but the TD department (whose achievements were most frequently cited) is not in control of story. It’s frustrating to have such an incredible feat of technology be so bland character design-wise (which is the issue!). They built 300+ models, they still had to build different rigs for their two female leads. Common facial structures across movies is frustrating, but even moreso when it’s carbon copied for different characters within the same film. They’re able to make male protagonists look different from each other, why isn’t the same courtesy afforded to women? In 3D animation things are constantly being recoded and redesigned, you’re never going to get a “downtime” where things look good and the tech is easy to deal with because at that point your renders look “old” and you need to update your stuff. The folks over at Disney are talented, I think it’s reasonable to expect them to make sure their leads each have a different look and to push the boundaries of their designs.