Calgary

Animator from Calgary opens up about her role on Frozen 2

Some of the scenes in Disney's new Frozen 2 were created by a Calgarian. Jackie Koehler joined the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday to open up about how she got involved with the film and what her role was.

'It looks and feels like magic but it's really a lot of hard work,' says Jackie Koehler

Calgarian Jackie Koehler says she's been interested in animation since she was about 13. (Submitted by Jackie Koehler)

For those with children or for the Disney enthusiasts, you may know that the company's popular animated film Frozen came out with a sequel in November. 

But what you may not know is that some of the scenes in the movie were created by a Calgarian.

Jackie Koehler joined the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday to share how she got involved with the film and what her role was.

For her, she said, the journey technically started when she was about 13 years old, when she developed an interest in animation.

"I just kind of pursued it ever since.… Every year, you kind of get a little bit better, a little bit more knowledgeable" Koehler said.

"Next thing you know, you're working at Disney."

She's since worked on big films including Ralph Breaks the Internet and The Book of Life.

Labour intensive job

When it comes to Frozen 2, her job was to work on the very nitty-gritty details of how the characters move.

Each movement is crafted "from scratch," she explained.

The animators review the script as voiced by the actors. They also take into consideration what the directors say they want out of each scene.

"Then we kind of take it from there," she said.

That involves deciding how a character might cross a room, for example, or how they might pick up a glass, or the sorts of facial expressions they might have during various segments of dialogue.

She was one of about 80 animators working on the film.

Koehler said she could spend about two weeks for each four seconds or so of animation.

"Each shot is very personal," she said, adding the shot she worked on for the lullaby sequence at the beginning of the film took months. "It's very labour intensive."

"(The shots) kind of become your babies … but then you watch it in the movie and it goes by in a blink of an eye."

While the process is similar to older methods of working on an animated film, going frame by frame, as technology advances, it's a little bit easier.

"The computer allows us to do more iterations so we're able to sort of explore a little bit more what different acting choices might look like on screen," she said.

There's also a dedicated room for animators to act out a scene and film themselves so they can transpose those movements to the character.

Jackie Koehler was an animator for Disney's new Frozen 2, which premiered in November. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

"We'll use that as a basis to ground our characters to make sure that they look and feel like they're living in a real world," she said.

There's also are multiple other departments in other very specialized roles, like lighting, who will work on the same scenes, she said.

"It looks and feels like magic but it's really a lot of hard work and dedication to our craft," Koehler said. 

Next up for the animator is Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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