Animating a movie is no joke. Frozen II was greenlighted all the way back in 2015, filmed in 2017 and will only be hitting theaters in late 2019. It takes a lot of long, hard work and creativity to bring animated characters to life, which is why it’s no shock Frozen II faced some interesting challenges. However, the biggest challenge on the Disney film may surprise you.
In fact, Frozen II introduces a new character, Gale, a sprightly wind spirit whose movement is shown through moving leaves and sticks, as well as blowing through human characters’ clothing and hair. Not actually “seeing” a physical manifestation of this character was actually the greatest challenge the movie faced.
VFX supervisor Steve Goldberg explained this effect on the movie in further detail, noting that multiple departments had to work together to bring the effect to life. And that was only the tip of the iceberg for the Frozen II addition. He noted:
We had to have four and sometimes five departments working in close collaboration, animating wind as a character. It’s what I call social engineering. What do we see during layout? What is animation animating? The end result is leaves and particles, but there was a realization early on during testing that the effect of the animation on clothing and hair was as important or more important than the particles in the air.
In fact, in the interview with Indiewire, Steve Goldberg also explained Frozen II even created a new technology called Swoop to bring the aptly-named Gale to life. The end result is that the invisible wind can be seen on the big screen through the movement of natural objects in nature and even human hair, as seen below.
What Swoop basically does, according to Goldberg, is create a “wind” path for the animators. He noted,
We could not only adjust the three-dimensional path but also the timing that an object [or character] would follow as it went along that path. This had to be a character, sometimes dangerous, sometimes playful, and it had to allow the animator to be as expressive as possible.
You think making things like hair move is easy? Think again! Despite the difficulties, however, the creative team still dove into the unknown and got the job done.
Ultimately, however, it might have been a bit of a pain to bring to life onscreen, but Gale is a delightful addition to the Frozen II narrative and one audiences will be able to see for themselves starting this weekend. Frozen II is officially out on November 22, ahead of the Thanksgiving theatrical rush. You can take a look at our full list of holiday movies ahead of that rush.