by Maija Burnett
Associate Director, Character Animation Program at CalArts
Disney’s The Princess and the Frog opens nationwide today (Dec. 11) and features the work of many CalArtians, including current School of Film/Video student Minkyu Lee (Film/Video MFA 11, Film/Video BFA 09). The film tells the simple story of a young girl whose “prince” charming turned into a frog–literally. It’s a return to a familiar tale, but for the first time, the animated film has African-Americans from antebellum New Orleans as lead characters.
Lee (in picture) was as an apprentice animator on this ground-breaking 2D film for close to a year, while finishing his BFA. He worked under John Musker (co-director, along with Ron Clements), Randy Haycock (supervising animator, Prince Naveen–human and frog), as well as Mark Henn (supervising animator, Tiana–human and frog).
Lee animated Prince Naveen and Tiana in their human and amphibian forms; his work can be seen up on the big screen in several scenes, including at the beginning of the film when Prince Naveen is introduced. Lee continues to work for Disney on an upcoming feature film, while pursuing his MFA in Film Directing.
Musker attended the Character Animation program in the mid-1970s alongside other famous alums, including John Lasseter (Film/Video BFA 79), executive producer of The Princess and the Frog. Musker’s directing credits include Hercules, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid.
Many other CalArts Character Animation alums and former students worked on The Princess and the Frog as well, including: Rasoul Azadani, Haroldo Guimarez (BFA 87), Ian Gooding (Film/Video BFA 89), Doug Walker (BFA 89), Jennifer Hager (BFA 05), Shi Yoon Kim (BFA 06), Lorelay Bove (BFA07), Erik Fountain (BFA 07), Mario Furmanczyk (BFA 07), Heidi Gilbert (BFA 07), Nicole Mitchell (BFA 07), Jules Soto (BFA 07), Leonardo Matsuda (BFA 08), Destiny Wood (BFA 08), Joe Pitt and Matt Williames (BFA 01). Hyun-min Lee, who graduated from the Experimental Animation program (BFA 07), also worked on the film.
Congrats to all! If you worked on the film and aren’t listed here, please add your name in the comments section below!