Animating the “Frozen Fever” 7-Minute Short Film and “Big Hero 6”: An Inside Look

By: Amanda Ray Filed under: Animation & Effects

May 12, 2015

Corey Bolwyn is working as a character technical director for Walt Disney Animation Studios. In addition to “Big Hero 6,” Corey’s animation can be seen in the 7-minute “Frozen Fever” musical short in theatres now, which debuts before Disney’s live-action movie “Cinderella.” His current project is “Zootopia,” coming to theatres in March 2016.

Corey (pictured above with his wife Mary at the "Big Hero 6" wrap party at the Dolby Theater) earned a Bachelor of Science in Media Arts & Animation in 2008 from The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University. He recently talked with The Art Institutes about his career and provided an inside look at what it takes to make a successful animated film.

The Art Institutes: What was your role in “Big Hero 6” and how many people were on your team?

Corey: I worked as a character technical director in technical animation. We had about 30 artists working on this production. 

The Art Institutes: What was your role on “Frozen Fever”?

Corey: I worked on the hair and dresses for Anna and Elsa. There is a birthday hat with sparklers and medallions, and I did all the rigging. We did the short in a month, and there were 110 shots.


The Art Institutes: What role did you play on the team?

Corey: Without getting too specific, I receive animation and place a cloth or hair rig on the character, then begin a simulation process. For example, if I have a running shot, I have to make it look very real by [integrating] with real world physics, such as wind fields. That can be very time consuming. I always get that 80% overall look that I want, and then I have to start cleaning it up, or perfecting the final look for a particular shot.


The Art Institutes: What was your favorite part of working the film?

Corey: I had a shot in “Big Hero 6” that was very difficult to pull off. The characters of Baymax and Hiro were running away from the microbots in a warehouse, and the shot ends with Hiro pushing Baymax through a tiny tunnel known as the Baby Cooker. That shot ended up in all the trailers, and was talked about quite a bit. It was a very successful piece of work—and [it was fulfilling when] the kids got a good laugh out of it when I watched the film in theaters.


The Art Institutes: What were the challenges of “Big Hero 6” character development?

Corey: Hiro's hair spikes were the biggest challenge. When the camera would change angles we would, at times, lose the appeal of the character. It was very difficult to maintain that from all angles. Other challenges were a very compressed production schedule. We knocked out the movie very quickly.


The Art Institutes: What are you working on now? 

Corey: After “Big Hero 6,” I spent November-December 2014 working on “Frozen Fever,” which viewers can see before the beginning of movie “Cinderella.” [It’s motivating knowing the] whole world is going to see my work. That can be very exciting come release day.

Right now I’m working on “Zootopia” and it will be full throttle until December 2015. Google the movie to learn more about it and the characters. 

The Art Institutes: How do you stay current with technology and trends?

Corey: At Disney, we have so much going on. We can take drawing classes every week. There are all kinds of classes going on for filmmakers. We are always growing and constantly learning new processes, software, and how to be better at animation. It can be overwhelming at times, so you take in what you can as you have time and energy.


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