Minnesotan helps bring Disney's 'Frozen' to life

10:59 AM, Nov 27, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - It's going to be a busy holiday season at the box office, and one of the new movies hitting the big screen is Disney's animated film "Frozen."

Making it even cooler is that a Minnesota native had a hand in creating it.

"Frozen is a kind of comedy adventure that takes place in the kingdom of Arendelle. And, the story at its core it's about family, and it follows the story of these two sisters who have this very authentic but very complex relationship," described Disney animator Tony Smeed

The movie is set in magical, 3D winter wonderland - something Smeed knows a lot about. He grew up in Lino Lakes, Minnesota.

"Actually, I had the background information about how it, what it feels like to walk through snow, or what it feels like when your nostrils freeze shut. So actually I had one up on people who were from warmer climates," he said with a smile.

Smeed graduated from Centennial High School, in Circle Pines, in 1989. In the mid 90s, he sent a demo reel out to every studio he could find in the country.

"I didn't get any bites. I got a lot of letters declining, and one that actually showed some interest was Disney. And, they just happened to be starting up a training program for the movie "Dinosaur," where they were going to take people and train them for the film, and I got very lucky and I got in, got trained and have been here ever since."

In the nearly 2 decades since, he's worked on several big blockbuster, including: "Chicken Little," "Tangled," and "Wreck it Ralph."

Smeed says he has seen the animation process change a lot since his first film, "Dinosaur."

"Way back then, we had animate the body in one software package and animate the facial and head in another package and then comp them on top of each other," he explained. "When we finally got the opportunity to animate a character that was fully put together in one piece, it was like 'ah' the clouds parted and the sun came through."

That love for animating truly is a family affair. Tony's wife, Amy, is also an animator with Disney. And, his little girl loves the characters, like a talking snowman in "Frozen."

"That's Olaf and he likes warm hugs. He's this little snowman voiced by Josh Gad and he's outrageously funny, his pieces come apart, he's always falling apart. He's a lot of laughs. And my daughter, having seen him over the course of the last year, wanted to be him for Halloween. So, I made her a costume."

That costume was a huge hit, just like the Disney movie that's about to hit the big screen. And, a Minnesotan couldn't be prouder.

"It's weird. It's very emotional. When we saw Frozen, the very beginning of the movie, this saw cuts through the ice. And, I started feeling my chin quivering. I was like, what's happening to me?" described Smeed. "It's weird. It's like you have this baby and you have to release it out into the wild, and it's a cool feeling."

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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