Disney’s FROZEN “Do You Want to VOICE A Snowman?”

As I’m sure you know by now, Disney’s FROZEN has won two Oscars (Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song for “Let It Go” and earned over $1B worldwide (nearly $400,000,000 domestically and over $600,000,000 overseas).  This post is the third in a series of three about the making of Disney’s FROZEN, available on Blu-ray/DVD on March 18.  In our first article, we chatted with the directors and producers of Disney’s FROZEN, Part 2 went inside the Walt Disney Animation Studio, and now we look at the voice-over process.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Have you ever thought about how voices get added to animation?  Well, they don’t.  Gabe Guy, Original Dialogue Mixer, gave us an overview of how the audio and video are combined in animation and it turns out that the dialogue is recorded first and it’s then the animators’ monumental task (in my opinion) of creating the animation around the voices on the sound reel (or whatever it’s called when it’s a digital file).

Gabe Guy, Original Dialogue Mixer, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Gabe Guy, Original Dialogue Mixer, Walt Disney Animation Studios

 

For our voice-over sessions, they reversed the process, though, because it would have taken months to add the animation to our voice files and we couldn’t wait that long to get this post to you.  As you can see in the picture below, the voice-over studio is two rooms in one.  The sound booth, where the voice-actors speak their parts, and the mixing room, where the technicians manage the recordings.

Walt Disney Animation Studios - voiceover studio

We did learn how audio is added to existing animation, though.  Gabe explained that the voice actors watch a screen of the animation with the words running along the lower third.  A countdown appears and you start speaking the clock ticks down.  Easy-peasy, right?  Well, actually, it kind of was easy, but I suspect that’s because I’d already seen Frozen twice and already knew that scene pretty well.

After Gabe finished explaining the voice-over process, we were offered the chance to record one of two clips:  the introduction scene for Olaf or the intro to Olaf’s “In Summer.”  Nobody wants to hear me sing, so I chose the dialogue clip.  I was ready – Gabe’s instructions were spot on and I didn’t go first – but I was unprepared for the last line.  The words disappeared off the screen and I missed the last few words.  There were no second takes, though, so you’ll have to imagine Olaf saying “I like you, too.”

Walt Disney Animation Studios - voiceover studio

Image courtesy Meredith Nichols

 

Here I am in the sound booth – I would have done the song, too, if we’d had time, though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have shared it.

Walt Disney Animation Studios - voiceover studio

As we left the mixing booth, I held back to ask Gabe about the “Let It Go” video with Elsa singing in 25 languages.  The video is so seamless that I wondered if Idina Menzel had recorded each language.  Gabe told me that each language had its own cast and that Disney makes every effort to make sure the voices are similar in every language.  If you are not one of the 15 million who have already watched this video, listen and be impressed.

Special thanks to Matt Forbeck, Tori Michel and Meredith Nichols, fellow junketeers, for providing photos for this post.

As we posted about previously, Adventures by Daddy was invited to Hollywood (where temperatures were well above freezing, a welcome break from the Polar Vortex ravaging New York!) for behind-the-scenes access to several Disney films (FROZEN, THE PIRATE FAIRY, and SAVING MR. BANKS).   In the first FROZEN post, we shared the story behind the story of Frozen via the storytellers.  In the second FROZEN post, we shared our rigging experience.  Next up, my spoiler-free review of DreamWorks Pictures’ NEED FOR SPEED, which we previewed as a special bonus along with all the great things we experienced as part of the trip.

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Disclosure: Disney Home Entertainment has invited Adventures by Daddy on an all-expenses paid press trip to Los Angeles, California to tour the Walt Disney Studios and learn about their upcoming home releases.  Disney has provided for transportation, meals, and lodging, but all opinions expressed are those of the author.

About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.