Not content to rest on their laurels, the “Shrek” creative team constantly strives to move past the expected in search of new ways to dazzle moviegoers. Huge leaps in technology have afforded them the ability to refine and enhance important details of the characters - from the enormous presence of Shrek all the way down to the tiny bits of fur on the Three Blind Mice.
DreamWorks Animation developed advanced systems for the two movies “Over the Hedge” and “Madagascar,” which were produced in the years between “Shrek 2” and “Shrek the Third,” and now the filmmakers are pushing the creative envelope once again.
“Going into each new film, we will have a list of tools and techniques that we want to improve,” says Matt Baer, one of the effects supervisors on “Shrek the Third.” “A lot of times, the tricky part is deciding which improvements will have the biggest impact on the show. Almost half the department has worked on almost every `Shrek' film, so we've set lofty goals for ourselves.”
“One of the biggest challenges for this film was the fact that it was a number three, and there's that tendency to kind of just go on autopilot when it's something that you know so well,” says head of layout Nick Walker. “Fortunately, we have people who consistently bring their `A' game and really deliver good quality stuff.”
Another “Shrek” veteran of special effects is Arnauld Lamorlette, who is fascinated by what the latest technological advancements have allowed the filmmakers to do. “It's basically the difference between drawing and sculpting,” he says. “We have been able to make this film so much more beautiful.”
“I think it's very important that PDI/DreamWorks started as a computer animation company, and we always developed our own software,” says co-director Raman Hui. “When we started working on the movie, we would look at each other and say, `Okay, what can we push now?'”
During production on "Shrek the Third," HP DL145 ProLiant servers powered by AMD Opteron processors were provided by DreamWorks Animation artists, providing them with the computing power necessary to render incredibly detailed characters and simultaneously work on props and environments at a faster pace. The artists were able to create the individual strands of hair in Merlin's beard and Fiona's hair, as well as the impressive magic spells seen in the movie, in a fraction of the time it had previously takentook. Additionally, the production management staff used HP nx6125 notebooks based on AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile technology to streamline a variety of production activities.