Upstate native makes movie magic

Updated: December 13, 2019 07:29 PM
Created: December 13, 2019 04:29 PM

ONEONTA, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Disney blockbuster, "Frozen II" has a big upstate New York connection.  

The head of animation is from Oneonta, NY, and she's a SUNY Geneseo alumna.


She’s warm, funny, smart, and her work is fascinating. She chatted with Deanna Dewberry by FaceTime.

Movie reviewer Nell Minow says of "Frozen II," “Characters confront some of the most daunting human questions about loss, change, trust and how we can best heal the wounds of the past.” 

And those characters do it with expression that is almost as authentic as a human actor.

That’s because of the work of animators like Becky Bresee. 

"I do have a special place in my heart for these characters though, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this project,” Bresee said.

She’s being modest. Bresee wasn't just a part of the project; she was a supervisor and head of animation.  

And her illustrious career was launched in upstate New York. She attended SUNY Geneseo where she majored in art and audited animation classes at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has worked on dozens of films during her 25-year Disney career, using the world around her to create animation. 

"My dog was Bolt puppy and my cat made an appearance in 'Big Hero 6,'” she said. “We have to study life in our own lives to put those little truths in our scenes." 

So when characters are courageous or afraid, happy or mournful, the emotion looks and feels authentic.

"I have a chicken and egg question,” Dewberry said. “So we see the actors and they have their headphones on like I do right now, and they are acting, voice acting. Does the animation follow the actor?"

It's always, always, always best to have the voice recording first and the songs first," Bresee replied.

That's because animators are crafting every frame, every breath, every expression to match the voice. And that work has given Bresee her own voice, a hometown girl who makes movie magic.

To the kids of Upstate New York, Bresee has this advice: If you want to be an animator, you don't have to be able to draw, but you must be creative, insightful and be willing to work. Learning animation is hard and sometimes tedious, but the joy of seeing your work onscreen is invaluable.

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