Andrew Ford spent eight months meticulously animating roughly two minutes of finished content for Disney’s Frozen 2.
Speaking from his Burbank, Calif., home near Disney Studios, Ford told Global News about his experience helping create the highly anticipated movie.
“All we can do is tell a different kind of story. Not copy the first one, but evolve from it,” said the Disney employee of the past five years.
As a character animator, Ford crafted a lot of “singing shots” for the movie. He was tasked with making sure performances, movements and lip-syncs were seamless.
“We’re basically the actors and we decide what kind of motions the characters do,” he said.
Ford animated multiple characters, but he worked on Anna of Arendelle more than any other. The princess, voiced by Kristen Bell, emerges a hero in Frozen 2, according to Ford. Themes like family and recovering from loss figure prominently, he said.
“I think there’s a lot of depth to this one that wasn’t in the first one,” Ford said.
Frozen 2 had about 80 animators, and Ford estimates more than a dozen of them are Canadians. He described the country as a “hot spot for talent” due to a number of studios and animation schools.
He pointed to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., and Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver as regular sources of skilled animators.
Ford is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta and Emily Carr.
Before turning professional, Ford visited the Winnipeg home of his family friend, Cordell Barker. The Winnipeg animator created The Cat Came Back, and Ford was looking for advice.
Barker remembers Ford as driven, keen and focused — all qualities he considers important in an animator.
“When I was a kid, I dreamed about being a Disney animator,” Barker said.
“Just to know somebody that makes it there, it’s quite a thing.”
With Frozen 2 behind him, Ford has contributed to some short films that will be added to streaming service Disney+ over the next two years.
He’s also in the early stages of another feature called Raya and the Last Dragon, a southeast Asian-inspired fantasy.