Meeting the new elementals... and a very cute salamander.
November 5, 2019 7:10 p.m
the giants of the earthExploring the powers of Frozen's ice queen, Elsa, is central to the new film's narrative, and as we've seenin the clips projected during our visit, all boils down to a series of elementals representing fire, air, water and earth. One of the biggest questions after Frozen 2 was where Elsa got her powers from. During a presentation of new footage attended by IGN, the film's producer, Peter Del Vecho, revealed that this very question drove the team to create the sequel. "A few years ago, when I was traveling around the world speaking to artists and students, I was asked the same question over and over again," he recalls. "Where does Elsa get her icy powers from? Well, that question turned out to be one that [directors] Jennifer [Lee] and Chris [Buck] struggled with as well. We realized there was more to tell. ".
With Arendelle once again in danger, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf venture into the unknown and find a magical forest where they encounter representations of all the elements. The first creatures we were shown were the earth giants. Huge, bold mounds of conscious soil, they were a challenge for the animation team to create and, more importantly, make them believable. Frozen 2 character designer Bill Schwab gave us a glimpse into how the Earth Giants came to life and the unexpected Frozen characters they share DNA with."Manu Arenas, a visual development artist here at the studio, was the first artist to start working on Gigantes da Terra," Schwab said. because they are made of stone. The next Earth Giants artist was Nick Orsi and he really went with "What environment are these characters made of?" and 'How can we abstract that into a figure?' and again really playing with the massive scale of these characters. At that point, the directors asked me to work on these characters and really try to infuse some of the troll DNA from Frozen into the Earth Giants."
Frozen 2's lead animator Tony Smeed expanded on his explanation, explaining the challenges involved in trying to bring something inanimate to life on such a massive scale.
"One of the hardest things is making these characters feel like they're really living, breathing creatures," Smeed said. “If you think about how we move, when we breathe in, our stomach expands and our skin expands. But we can't stretch your "skin" with that. When we stretch, bend, or twist rock material, it no longer looks like stone. When we got there we had a great team, with Wayne Unten overseeing the [animation] for Earth Giants and Chris Pedersen overseeing the editing. These two worked together to find ways to find natural folds for these characters to bend and move in without bending the rock. They actually found a way to make the rocks slide rather than bend, which helped us preserve their stoney appearance. Characteristics."These creatures were last seen in theNew trailer for Frozen 2, towering over the enchanted forest where Elsa and Anna are.
BruniNext came a very cute salamander named Bruni. Seemingly just the latest in Disney's line of cute creatures that'll make great plush toys, we have a theory Bruni's inclusion implies she could have a bigger role, possibly the yet-to-be-announced Spirit of Fire. While the animators didn't say anything about where Bruni fits into the story, they were quick to share the creative driving force behind the animated lizard: making him as lovable as possible!
"Our goal with this character was to make Bruni as lovable as possible...So she's super cute," Schwab shared. Lead animator Trent Correy continued, "When Bruni came back into animation, we just worked with Bill and tried to make this character as lovable as possible. So we started working with him on some small tests. Tests like this have been used since I'm just starting to let you know that the rigging team is working really hard with billing and modeling to make this character as cool and cute as possible. At the same time, other animators on the team are working on things like walking in loops, which are also super adorable.It'll be interesting to see if cute little Bruni is really more than she seems when the film hits screens, especially since we don't have to see anything but flames to portray the final fire elemental just yet.
SturmOne of the most intriguing creations we were shown was Gale, the spirit of the wind. First seen blowing leaves in the Frozen 2 trailer, Gale is a unique character in that you never see her, she is only represented by whatever is blowing. Schwab shared his process behind creating the unusual supernatural entity.
"My first question was how do you draw the wind?" he said. “How do you draw something that isn't there? So the solution was to think of debris, sticks, leaves and things that might be in the Haunted Forest that we could use to define Gale. Initially there was an idea of where maybe we could actually form a recognizable character with Gale... I really explored the idea of Gale interacting with our characters, maybe imitating them.” Annette Marnat was another artist who worked on this character , and she really explored this idea of lighting. How can we use the lighting to create the magic of Gale and the beauty of Gale?”It was, like most of Frozen 2, a cross-departmental collaboration that brought animators, software engineers, and technical directors together to find a way to animate Gale's ambitious form. Hannah Swan, one of the above software engineers, explained how the German team was able to create ways for the animators to navigate Project Gale and her path, including using virtual reality. "You can track your 3D gear, place your headphones, and unwind your Jeito," he says. “It captures where you are in the 3D scene and how fast your hand is moving. And then you can also just draw one on the screen. Then we have these powerful editing tools that you can use to change this shape very quickly, in a very short time. So again just to give the artists a lot of control and a lot of room to experiment with this performance. And then that path just streams down the pipeline so they can start interacting with things and scenes so you can see it."
Despite his unconventional character design, it looks like Gale will have a major role in Frozen 2 and the sisters' quest for truth, though it's unclear how he'll manage to communicate with his newfound friends. Although director Chris Buck eventually revealed Gale might have a voice. "The wind was an interesting thing," he said. “The wind is very, very important in the whole Scandinavian wind culture. And it was interesting to think about, you know, we even had it early on, we thought the wind might have a voice, things like that.”
the camThe last creature to tease the team was the nokk. Based on true Norse folklore, Nokk is a water spirit and shapeshifter who always takes the form of a horse throughout the sequel. If you've been following the film, you'll likely recognize him from the stunning sequence that opened the first Frozen 2 trailer, as Elsa braved the Black Sea and her equestrian protector. Schwab introduced us to the character and some of the ideas that shaped the final design of the ethereal beast.
"Working with Annette Marnat, he created these beautiful images where he's not just thinking about the Nokk in the water, but in the water... Really just thinking about the beauty and magic of this character," Schwab said. "Another thing he explored was how much water do we need to depict a horse, or how little and really play with the abstraction of that design."
Supervising animator Svetla Radivoeva shared a bit about the depth of research that went into creating the Nokk, what it took from its real-life counterparts to bring it to life, and what we can learn about the beast. magically made of the smallest movements and movements“I learned a lot about horse anatomy, locomotion and quadrupedal movement, but we also really wanted to dig deeper and went to the equestrian center to see beautiful horses and also spoke to a trainer to learn a bit more about their personalities and habits. ", said Radivoeva. "The trainer told us that horses are very peaceful animals. But our horse, our Nokk, is actually a warrior and protector of the Black Sea. We regard him as a wild stallion yet to be broken. Another thing I learned about horses was how to show their attention since they have these eyes that you don't really see where they're looking with, you can track a horse's attention by looking at its ears . Where is the horse looking? You can learn how they feel. When angry, their ears are pulled back, almost like a dog's. You can tell if they respect the rider or not if their ears point towards the rider while their backs are turned. If pointed out, respect them. If not, they probably won't."
We'll see how Elsa fares when she takes on the water elemental, which is certainly related to her vast magical powers of ice when Frozen 2 hits screens on November 22nd.
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Walt Disney Pictures