There’s something alluring about the world of Frozen; the complicated characters, the fan theories and the stories that settles deep within the lands of Arendelle.
Frozen told the tale of two sisters coming to grips with their future, its sequel told the story of their parents and their powerful reunion, while Once Upon A Snowman told the tale of our beloved snowman, Frozen: Myth is inspired by the exciting environments, themes and elemental characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen 2.
In this journey, acclaimed director Jeff Gipson (Cycles) brings to life this imaginative and vibrant tale set in an enchanted forest outside of Arendelle. As comforting as a bedtime story wrapped in warmth, a family gathers for an evening of stories which sets the stage for a magnificent adventure to a colorful and mythical world, which includes close encounters with the Nokk (a water spirit in the form of a mighty stallion), Gale (the playful wind spirit who can manifest as a light breeze or a raging tornado-like force), the Earth Giants (the massive creatures that form the rocky riverbanks and are capable of intense destruction when wakened), and the Fire Spirit (a fast-moving and mercurial salamander named Bruni). As the story unfolds, these spirits come to life and the myth of their past and future is revealed.
In celebration of this new journey coming to Disney+ in both 2D and VR, director Jeff Gipson and Production Designer Brittney Lee about bringing the magic, the love and legacy to MYTH: A FROZEN TALE.
“The first film I directed was Cycles and it was the studio’s first VR short film. We also have a streaming version of that on Disney+ as well. Cycles came about through Short Circuit and we were fortunate to show it at films festivals and win some awards, and it created a lot of excitement with our studio leadership,” said Jeff.
“And so once we finished this, we started on Frozen 2 and Jennifer Lee – one of the directors and writer of Frozen” and Frozen 2 as well as our Chief Creative Officer- she approached me and asked me if I was interested in creating something in VR, in real time, for the Frozen world. And I was so excited, but also so nervous because these are some of our most beloved characters and amazing worlds. I wanted to create something that would do justice to this to this film.”
“So I started thinking about what were some inspirations that really connected with me growing up? And I love bedtime stories; when you go to sleep and your parents tell you a story, your mind just wanders. There’s this one story that my dad would tell me growing up. It goes: in the 1860s, my family lived about a day’s ride straight out of Kansas City, Missouri, and it was the Wild West still they worked on a farm. And at that time, if you saw two riders, or two people in general, riding out in the distance coming toward you, you were hesitant’ you’re sure if they’re good or bad. But still, there were people that would come through, stop for water and continue on,” Jeff explained.
“And I just remember the way that story made me feel. The sense of wonder, this legendary Western figure interacting with my family and some level, and it just was really inspiring. So when it came to “MYTH: A FROZEN TALE,” I started thinking about what types of stories what a bedtime story would you be told, if you grew up in or around Arendelle,” Jeff continued.
After hearing Jeff’s passionate pitch, Brittney knew this was the project for her. “I immediately really wanted to work on this project and was so happy to get the opportunity to dive into this Myth world. One of the first things that we decided that we needed to look at was, “How do we stylize this world that is part of an already stylized world of Frozen? So we decided to look toward some influences that Frozen looked to as well. One big influence for the Frozen world is the art of Eyvind Earle and his work on Sleeping Beauty was really informative with an elegant shape language, very graphic and stylized. The forests are featured predominantly in Sleeping Beauty as well, so we really looked to his artwork to sort of begin the framework of stylized the space, pulling the shape language we could build from to build our own forest in Myth,” stated Brittney.
The beauty of Myth is how it makes its audience feel. There’s a powerful sense of wonder coupled with Jeff’s legendary Western figure who interacted with his family. This feeling and that legacy are the types of bedtime stories known to the citizens of Arendelle.
Then there’s the breathtaking visuals that’ll fill your screen with shadow puppets that feel like a pop-up book that’s a twist on the stylized world of Frozen 2.
“I also wanted to draw from the history of Disney Animation and this rich heritage; where this traditional animation is tied to the music its animated to. Looking at films like Fantasia, the pink elephants sequence (in Dumbo), Make Mine Music, Peter and the Wolf I just loved how the animation was married to that music. It almost moves exactly with that music. And I thought, how can we bring traditional animation or heritage of
Disney Animation into a new medium, like VR, with real time engines, and create something where we bring this kind of feeling. I started thinking about production design I mentioned the pop up books in this kind of flattened stylized aesthetic where there’s shadow puppets,” said Jeff.
“I love [Brittney’s] personal work; she does this paper cut-out, really graphic, really stylized art, right in the wheelhouse of why I was hoping so we pitched it. And I remember after we pitched it, and Brittney reaching out and saying that she was interested in it, I was just over the moon because I was just such a fan of Brittney’s work and having her on board to be our production designer on this film was just, it was such a pleasure and such an honor,” Jeff continued.
Another layer added to Myth is the cultivation of its own language for the elemental spirits which builds upon their own visual style from Frozen 2. Each spirit has its own color and shape language.
“We stayed with them this sort of jewel tone palette that exists in the Frozen world and we just expanded it a little bit further. We also were adding the fifth spirit, and we wanted that to be representative of all the elements combined so we gave it a prismatic effect and thought that might be a nice way to show how when everything works together there in this beautiful combination [of] how all these color palettes work together and that’s what the film is about -this harmony of the elements coming together but also the duality of each element,” said Jeff.
What separates Myth from the previous Frozen installment is an immersive journey that includes the latest in VR technology.
“A big part of the VR version is that sense of presence you get with all these characters. I love when the wind is swooping around you and you’re hearing it in the headphones moving from left to right to. Or even the salamander, it’s small and you come close, the Nokk, the giants… just how do we translate that sense of presence and scale and power that each one of these elemental spirits had. Terry Moews did an incredible job. Working with him it was really collaborative. That was all about this, ‘how do we make this feel like our VR version?’ I’m just so proud and really excited about what we achieved for our streaming version of the film. We used Unreal.”
Myth: A Frozen Tale will release on February 26th on Disney+.