You almost feel the cold while watching the charming movie Frozen. And that’s because of the movie’s stunning visuals, created by a vast team of artists and computer designers at Walt Disney Animation in Burbank, under the artistic direction of Michael Giaimo. Here he pulls back the veil on a five-year process of research and design.
If you are not feeling the holiday spirit yet you might if you see Frozen. Not only is it an enchanting tale about the power of love, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen. But it also gives Angelenos a real sense of immersion in snow and ice. And that’s because of the movie’s stunning visuals. A vast team of artists and computer designers at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank spent five years on the research and design of the movie – which involved traveling to Norway and studying its “stave” churches and traditional folk art; and meeting with physicists at Cal Tech to learn about snow.
The film’s executive producer was John Lasseter and the man responsible for overall look was art director Michael Giaimo (left, at his office in the Disney Animation studios), who also created the look for Pocahontas. Michael tells DnA about the importance of seeking the “truth” of a setting before adding the Disney “panache.”
He also talks about the connection between color and emotion and he talks about the difference between his past work as a traditional animator and Frozen, his first experience with CGI. Michael, a painter when he is not art directing, “cut his teeth as an inbetweener” on Fox and the Hound, served as story apprentice on Black Couldron, and was part of early design development on Roger Rabbit.
You can also read about the design of Frozen in Charles Solomon’s new book, The Art of Frozen. John Lasseter and the film’s directors, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, provide essays. And Charles, a historian, critic and professor of animation, also holds forth on his highlights of the art in 2013, here.