When I was in LA last month I got to do some really cool stuff and learn a lot about the behind the scenes work of huge Disney films. One of the things we got to do was learn about “rigging” – which I had never even heard of before. This was also when I realized I was completely out of my league on this trip. I am someone who goes to the movies to be entertained for the hour and a half or so – and then go on with the rest of my day. I have never stopped to question the depth of a storyline or wonder how many man hours it took to create, or what software was used to make her hair look perfect… however that put me in the minority on this trip.
Rigging – from what I understand – is the process that a 3D character must go through to give it movement. It is literally what is required to make it “animated.” I have to admit – I was still thinking along the dark ages of the zillion slides per second to make animation… hey, I am not big on details. And I thought the 3D part was just really good shading… anyway.
I was surrounded by such an amazing group of bloggers who knew so much more than I did – it was a really neat experience to not only learn from the folks at Disney, but also from the other bloggers who were on the trip with me. When we sat down with the Frozen Rigging Team, I was at a complete loss. I mean complete. The computer setup was amazing though – and what little bit of inner geek I have was ready to start playing.
We got to play around with Olaf and make him move, wink, smile, and even wiggle his little hair twigs. It was amazing to me once I started playing around – just how much goes in to the making of these films. Stuff that we – or at least I – never stopped to consider. The hair alone on these Disney Princesses is intense – Elsa had 420,000 strands of hair… 420 THOUSAND. (sidenote: I am intensely jealous of these womens hair… I mean… no wonder it always looks amazing.) They compared Elsa’s hair to Rapunzel who “only” had 27,000 strands… “ONLY“…
The guys explained the entire process of how these characters go from an idea, to a 2D image, to a 3D image, to then being rigged, and then there is an “auto-sim” (I think that is how you spell it – that’s how it sounded) that they let it run through – however they still have to go in and change the lines and structures and stuff to make them more pleasing… and that is to every character. To be honest – I got tired and overwhelmed just listening to how they do it – I have the utmost respect for those that DO it. In fact in one scene alone (no spoilers – but its one where you see a lot of the townspeople) there were 312 character rigs, 245 cloth rigs, and 63 hair rigs…
exhausting amazing right!?
The next time you watch Frozen – which comes out on March 18th on Bluray and DVD – watch the movement of the girls hair, watch Elsa’s dress blowing in the wind, watch Olaf’s twiggy hair bounce around… I promise you will be amazed at the detail.
I did not catch everything the guys said – and to be 100% honest I am not even sure I got the numbers exactly right on this post – but what I can tell you as someone who had zero idea or concept of what it took to put a movie like Frozen together just a few weeks ago, has a new found respect for the movies, the directors, the animators, artists, riggers (is that what they call them?) and everything else that goes in to the making of our “entertainment.”
Disclosure: I went on a free press trip for the purpose of this post – all ideas are my own.