How do you transform snowy winters into vibrant autumn while keeping the cool undertones intact because you are still designing for a film called 'Frozen' whose heroine has magical icy powers? This is where the colour palette becomes significant. While as an audience, we are drawn to a scene where everything from the setting, action, music, sound and colour work together to create an impression on us, we do not individually dissect how each factor is contributing to our overall experience of the emotion in that scene. But every component does its bit in holding the film together.
For a story that is characterised by the more graver concepts of change, renewal; set in the backdrop of autumn in an enchanted forest, the production designers had to be careful to not let the bright colours of fall take away the darker theme of the story and the icy qualities of its heroine. To perform this delicate balancing act, the filmmakers travelled to Norway, Finland and Iceland to study the landscapes, people and cultures.
Production designer Michael Giaimo said that the bursting reds and yellows of autumn countered the traditional world of Frozen. "A fall palette means an incredibly vibrant environment with striking colours that I was initially concerned that it would pull focus from our characters, or look like a new place and time," says Giaimo. "But we were able to create a Frozen version of fall that still felt cool. We minimised the yellows in favour of oranges, orange-reds and red-violets. It's distinctive to our world."
Besides that, Arendelle was designed primarily to look good in a winter environment. The change of season posed a challenge to make these buildings look good against a new backdrop that included not just trees and leaves but also fall decorations.
David Womersley, art director of environments, says, "Some buildings were originally designed to look good against (the) snow. Not only did we have to remove the snow from the ones we wanted to reuse; we also had to make them look good against a fall backdrop." And so, the colour palette was expertly tweaked to keep it faithful to the story and the season in which it is set. The end result being, the audience does not find the changes jarring or out of place, in fact, they'll probably never even know!