Shrek The Third The Magic Show

New characters bring with them new opportunities for special effects exploration. One such character who makes his debut in this film is the legendary magician Merlin. “Since Merlin is in `Shrek The Third,' that means a lot of magic,” says Baer. “There has always been magic in the `Shrek' films, but each film has to have its own unique look.”

In this case, Baer and his team had another issue to consider when it came to creating the perfect effects for Merlin. “We came up with this really cool, crazy-looking concept that we suggested to the directors, which we thought was great, but in the end we realized it was too scientific and almost too modern to fit into the `Shrek' universe. So, we went back and made it more medieval. Here's where we enter into a period of discovery with these magic effects.”

“MagicMagic always ends up being the most difficult thing for us - mostly, because it's hard to define,” continues Gluckman. “What magic looks like is very subjective. And with Merlin, of course, he's a bit rusty with his incantations, so something might start out looking one way and then look completely different when he figures out how to do it right.”

Another discovery that occurred in the animation process was the result of a story twist in “Shrek the Third.” Donkey and Puss In Boots drink a potion and magically switch bodies, and the animators were charged with this tricky task. “I think the biggest challenge for the animators, who were so used to animating Donkey in Donkey's body and Puss in Puss's body, was to transfer their personalities so Puss moves like a cat in a donkey's body, and he reacts like a cat at times. Yet it's also Puss trying to exist in Donkey's body, which is really awkward. It made for a lot of great comedy.”

Raising The Bar

From the film's most minute details to its vast environments, “Shrek the Third” sets a new standard in animation. “It is absolutely stunning,” states co-producer Denise Nolan Cascino. “The moment we saw the pencil sketches we knew this was going to be something special. We have a different kind of environment for `Shrek the Third,' and it stands out as something very special.”

Aretos describes how some of those special environments came to be: “These creations are getting very challenging. The one at the end, which is a gigantic theater show, is based on medieval machinery in theater and Vatel's craft for Louis the XIV. It was the most fun to design as well as the most difficult. And, because the film is a road trip, the high school where Arthur is studying is in northern Europe. So, we went with more of a Brittany feel, taking our inspiration for Oxford, as well as monasteries across Europe. The other thing that we did to reinforce the idea of the Northern feeling is that everything happens in fall. We wanted to have an aesthetic shift from the eternal spring we had in the previous two movies and give it a more colorful, and at the same time, deeper, more sentimental feel.”

Shrek“Most of the environments in this film are even larger and more detailed than what we saw in `Shrek' and `Shrek 2,' and we tried to stay pretty accurate to the medieval time period,” says art director Peter Zaslav. “Of course, we exaggerated things, we put carvings into the wall and even created a medieval vending machine.If you look closely, you'll spot several clever little jokes. It's always fun to infuse contemporary humor into a medieval world, so a school bus is a modified carriage. These are the little things that add to the film's character.”

When they are combined, these new approaches and effects create an amazing new world for “Shrek the Third” - a world the filmmakers could barely imagine when Shrek's story began. “It's so great to see it all come together,” says Gluckman. “There are some amazing moments when, after all the years that you put into the movie, you finally see specific characters or shots on screen. It's a fantastic feeling.”

“Doing animation is like doing magic,” says Hui. “We try to perform magic every day.”

Making Beautiful Music Together

With full knowledge that some show-stopping musical numbers helped define “Shrek” and “Shrek 2,” the filmmakers were again eager to raise the bar with “Shrek the Third.”

“When it comes right down to it, it almost feels like music is half the movie,” says Miller. “It's such a big part of what makes these films work.”

This time, Harry Gregson-Williams, who composed music for the first two “Shrek” films, was not only asked to rejoin the team, but to build on his previous work and move it forward. “It was a great challenge,” says Gregson-Williams. “I do a lot of scores every year, but my children only care that I keep doing the `Shrek' movies. It's been quite a trip. I don't think any of us knew quite what we were embarking on when we started. I love `ShrekShrek the Third.' It's got all the elements of the first two and more. It's got a slight angle. It's quite subversive in places.”

“It would have been really easy for Harry to kind of give us the stuff he'd done before and call it a day, but this time around, he really amazed us,” says Warner. “He spiced it all up big-time for us. We have this big musical number at the end in which many of the characters are playing instruments they don't know how to play, so Harry made things sound bad on purpose, which is always hard for a composer to do. Then he had to blend it into the real score. It was a tough job.”

“FilmFilm music is very important, and can bring another dimension to what you're seeing on screen - particularly in animation, because remember, in animation there's nothing that's real,” explains Gregson-Williams. “If this were live-action, and ShrekShrek and ArthurArthur were sitting on that log by the fire, there would be sounds of the night; there would be an ambience. But, in this case, you're starting with a blank canvas. What we're doing is filling in the mood.”

Choosing just the right soundtrack is another way to convey the mood of the characters and the story. “Shrek the Third” boasts an impressive array of classic rock songs and new tunes penned specifically for the film.

“It's really important to us to find music that matches the integrity of the first two films. It's very eclectic, very wide-reaching,” says Warner. “We have a lot of great older songs. We also have new artists who created original songs, and then we have new artists covering older songs. What we always tell bands is that we want the songs to represent the voice of Shrek. That means they've got to be kind of rough, and the feeling needs to be real. We tend to shy away from stuff that's got a lot of production value to it.”

“I remember when we started off, we had a few songs in mind that we sort of built the picture around,” adds Miller. “But as the film changed, so did the songs. We were always searching. It was a vital part of making the film work.”

Among the songs picked to represent Shrek's story are Wings' “Live And Let Die,” “Do You Remember Rock `N' Roll Radio” by The Ramones, “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, “Barracuda” performed by Fergie, “Joker And The Thief” by Wolfmother, “Cat's In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin, “Thank You (Falettin' Me Be Mice Elf Again)” by Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas and “Losing Streak” by the eels, as well as an original song by the eels, “Royal Pain.”

The “Shrek the Third” soundtrack will be released by Geffen Records.

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