What exactly is rigging? It turns out it is quite an intricate process-so many details and it’s fascinating! I had the opportunity to sit down in the rigging lab with: Frank Hanner, CG Supervisor; Greg Smith, Character Rigging Supervisor and Keith Wilson, Character Simulation Supervisor. They showed us how they brought the stunning characters from Disney’s FROZEN to life and created the snow covered landscapes.
Before rigging, characters start out as digital sculptures. They move in a course, stiff way. The riggers build a skeleton frame for the characters and then they digitally attach muscles and skin. After, they create animation controls so that each character can be pushed and pulled through a variety of motions, making it look life-like. With this, animators are able to give characters a wide range of facial expressions and body movement. They can even make the fabric of their dresses swish as they dance! FROZEN has 312 characters-more than in any other Disney film. Imagine how many hours of rigging went into it!
FROZEN has a very Scandinavian feel: the architecture, landscape, costumes and even the hairstyles. Of course with the way that hair moves especially when blown by the wind there was a lot of work involved.
FUN FACT: Elsa has 420,000 hairs on her head. The average person has a quarter of that! Even Rapunzel, a princess known for her fabulous hair, had only 30,000!
The way snow moved and the glittery wind gusted was pretty amazing. Keith Wilson shared with us how the rigging department worked with the art department to get the integration perfect:
“We needed a way for the artists (to) visualize wind. So we created custom fields that allowed them to visualize pre-sim what the wave length of the wind was going to be, the frequency, the magnitude.” These custom fields allowed them to make an intuitive tool-allowing them to create elements that moved more naturally.
And then we have Olaf! Didn’t you just love him?! He did his share of acrobatics throughout the film: singing and dancing, rolling down hills, detaching and reattaching body parts.
The rigging team created “Flourish” to allow simple overlapping motion to things, so the animators didn’t have to do it all by hand. Basically this means when one object moved over another it was more of a dynamic process. This was the secret to Olaf’s stick hair. Greg Smith told us how Flourish allowed these sticks to bounce and have a floating movement above Olaf’s head.
And then the team gave us a chance to do our own rigging!
They set us up with our own program and gave us tips on how we would make Olaf smile, frown, wave, or perhaps look a little mischievous…
My Olaf didn’t turn out anywhere near this entertaining-thank you to Ashley from Fiddledeeme.com for letting me show you her amazing rigging skills!
Here’s a peek at what the Walt Disney Animation Studio rigging lab looked like:
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Thank you to Silvia Mtz of MamaLatinaTips.com for the use of her video!
So what fun FROZEN filmmaking experience am I going to share with you next? How about the Walt Disney Animation Voice-Over Studio! And who else would we have the opportunity to do a voice-over of but Olaf! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Don’t forget, Disney’s Frozen will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on March 18th!
All opinion are honest and 100% my own. Disney provided an all-expense paid trip to cover the event.