Royal Oak native is Disney's lead artist on 'Moana'

- Amy Smeed has made her way from the streets of Royal Oak to Burbank, Calif. where she works as an animator with Disney. Her talents have most recently landed her as the lead artist on Disney's latest animated film, "Moana."

"Moana" follows the brave Moana as she goes on an epic journey with the legendary demi-god Maui. 

Smeed has worked as an animator on several other Disney films, with "Chicken Little" being her first. She's also worked on "Frozen," "Big Hero 6," and "Meet the Robinsons," to name a few.

She says animation has certainly changed since she began in the field. She explains that the animation process calls for 24 frames per second, so it's a very time-consuming process. She says two seconds of animation takes about a week's worth of time.

For anyone looking to get into animation, Smeed says it's really about your demo reel. She says you want a reel that shows characters acting with emotion and with dialogue, and then work that has full-body mechanics to show you understand physically how the body works.

She says, as animators, she and her team also study acting to really be able to nail the character's expressions and body language. She says her favorite part of the job is watching the movie with an audience, to see which characters and which scenes they really respond to emotionally.

You can follow Amy on Twitter at @amy_smeed, and catch her latest work on the big screen this Thanksgiving.

"Moana" is rated PG and opens in theaters on November 23. 

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