HP Powers ‘Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted’
June 8, 2012

HP Powers ‘Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted’

PALO ALTO, CA — What do you get when you combine the power of HP technology and the creativity of DreamWorks Animation? A wild 3D treat.
HP technology was used to help DreamWorks animators solve the artistic challenges that bring “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” to the big screen in the third installment of the blockbuster “Madagascar” franchise. It is the first time that global audiences can experience a “Madagascar” film in 3D. The original film was released in 2005 and, together with its 2008 sequel, grossed $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office.

DreamWorks used HP technology that included HP Converged Infrastructure, HP Z Workstations, HP networking and server solutions, and digital rendering resources to create a new level of richness in an animated film.

“Our goal with every film is to push the limits of our creativity to bring the story to life for the audience,” said Ed Leonard, chief technology officer, DreamWorks Animation. “HP technology enables our artists to exceed those limits and focus on creating the most powerful 3-D animation experience.”

DreamWorks Animation uses HP technology throughout the production cycle, for everything from day-to-day tasks to developing the most detailed animation scenes and processing massive amounts of rendering data. Throughout the years, HP technology has played an integral role in creating DreamWorks’ groundbreaking animated features, including the “Shrek” series, ”How to Train Your Dragon,” ” Kung Fu Panda,” ”Kung Fu Panda 2” and “ Puss in Boots.”

“Madagascar 3” tapped the power of several HP technologies, including:

- Artists utilizing more than 200 high-performance HP Z800 Workstations to help create a wide variety of deeply intricate, organic environments that exist in part due to the extraordinary power of HP Workstations with multicore processors. Artists used these workstations to help design everything in the film—from the Zooster characters to digital effects such as complex fire and highly detailed crowd close-ups.

- HP DreamColor technology was utilized in the film’s production process to provide accurate and consistent color across print, monitor and the big screen.

- HP ProLiant BL460c blade technology, geographically dispersed in four server render farms across the US and India, provided peak compute power at crucial stages of production. The blade servers powered an incredible 200 terabytes of data and more than 65 million render hours.

- HP Networking solutions including HP 12500, 5800 and 6120 series switches, HP Networking Intelligent Management Center, and HP Intelligent Resilient Framework provided significantly improved levels of network performance while providing a simplified, single-pane-of-glass network management across the studio’s scalable 10G WAN/LAN environment. HP IBRIX X9720 Network Storage System enabled DreamWorks to respond to the demanding unstructured data requirements of the studio while allowing for future growth.

- HP Enterprise Services Flexible Hosted Rendering has provided DreamWorks with high-performance computing power to get dynamic capacity on demand for multiple computer graphics (CG) films. Over the course of the production cycle, 12 percent of “Madagascar 3” was rendered in the cloud.

DreamWorks Animation also used HP Managed Print Services (MPS) to ease the complexity of print management and increase productivity during the production of “Madagascar 3.” This process facilitates greater visibility into information, thus enabling faster revenue generation. Through HP MPS, DreamWorks Animation is transforming paper-based workflows to reduce waste, cut costs and unleash employee productivity.

“HP Z Workstations power the creative genius at DreamWorks and help bring the next big thing in animation to audiences around the world,” said Jeff Wood, vice president, Worldwide Marketing, Commercial Solutions Business Unit, HP. “HP is committed to professionals in media and entertainment and will continue to work with leaders like DreamWorks to understand the needs of the industry and bring in the next big thing in technology."

“Madagascar 3” fun facts

More than 120,000 individual computer-generated frames were used to create the film.

The majestic Circus Act sequence features the largest, most detailed crowd in DreamWorks production history—more than 5,000 individual characters. The scene includes several special effects including haze, sparks, glow, fire and rain, and required 1.6 million render hours to produce.

The Flashback sequence incorporates massive fire effects and highly detailed crowd close-up shots that required 2.8 million render hours.

In the Running for the Train sequence, nearly 1,200 Euros are thrown into the air.

The Manhattan skyline originally didn’t have the new World Trade Center—a DreamWorker from New York City who had just been down to that area was awestruck by the partially completed building and asked that it be put in to show the amazing architecture.

Gia’s eyelashes have 96 tracks that can be animated.

Alex has more than 2,000 individual controls to allow the animators to position him into any conceivable pose.

Each person in the crowd scenes had three possible bodies, six possible heads and various wardrobe item possibilities, for a total of more than 19 million unique person combinations—for comparison, the New York City Metropolitan area just reached a population of 19 million this year.

There were 2,393 buildings in the Monaco set comprising 42 different models, most of which had three variations. Many of the buildings had other models scattered atop them (chairs, shrubbery, planter boxes and other constructs).