HP Technology Helps DreamWorks Animation Bring Shrek Forever After in 3D to Life
May 26, 2010

HP Technology Helps DreamWorks Animation Bring Shrek Forever After in 3D to Life

Palo Alto, Calif. - The power of HP technology and the creativity of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. fuse once again as the studio's final chapter to the Shrek film series, Shrek Forever After, hits theatres in 3D. Audiences will experience an army of green ogres, hundreds of dancing witches and all of the original Shrek characters as never seen before--in spectacular 3D. The film's technological breakthroughs are made possible in part by HP technology, which powered the development of the entire Shrek series, from start to finish. For Shrek Forever After, these technologies included HP Z800 Workstations, HP ProLiant blade servers, HP Halo Telepresence Solutions, HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array, HP StorageWorks X9000 Network Storage Systems, and HP DreamColor displays.  
"At DreamWorks Animation we create two to three 3D films a year, and our intention is to ensure that audiences enjoy a higher-quality premium experience with each new film," says Ed Leonard, chief technology officer, DreamWorks Animation. "HP helps us to accomplish this goal by giving our filmmakers the best tools and products so they can be empowered by technology … not limited by it."    

"DreamWorks Animation is famous for pushing the limits of innovation to engage with audiences in new ways," says Jeff Wood, director, Worldwide Marketing, Workstations, HP. "HP is committed to a continued investment in research and development to provide customers like DreamWorks with innovations that break through creative barriers to enable the next generation in film."

Production artists at DreamWorks Animation used HP Z800 Workstations to design everything in the film from characters to lighting. According to DreamWorks Animation, the HP Z800 proved to be significantly faster than its predecessor -- providing speeds up to 50 percent faster. DreamWorks Animation's render farm for Shrek Forever After, a grouping of computers that work in concert to process animation sequences, was the largest and most powerful render farm ever used in the studio's production of a computer graphics animated film.

The production of Shrek Forever After required nearly 76 terabytes of data and more than 46 million render hours, in contrast to the 6 terabytes of data and near 5 million render hours needed in 2001 for Shrek.  In addition to advancements in lighting technology, character development has taken leaps forward with state-of-the art effects and tools in hair.

In Shrek, character hair was kept short, modelled as a solid mass and rendered with multiple strands to create the best look possible. Because of the challenges at the time, Fiona's hair was designed in one long braid with no significant movement.  With the latest advancements used in Shrek Forever After, artists have the technological freedom to animate hair that helps define their characters. As a result, Fiona now has fiery locks that flow in the wind to accentuate her new role as a glorious warrior ogress.

Using the most current animation tools, and having them supported by HP's products, Shrek Forever After became a living lab of new technologies being used in remarkable ways. From Z800 Workstations driving story artists using Cintiq tablets, ProLiant BL460c G6 blades for server management, to DreamColor Displays and printers to ensure color accuracy across the studios, HP supports and enables DreamWorks Animation filmmakers from the original idea until a film reaches the screen.

Fun facts about Shrek Forever After
-    Beast Fiona's "hair cut" took about nine months of development between digital artists.
-    Shrek is seven feet tall, has 22 teeth and his hand is about 13.5 inches from the base of his palm to the tip of his middle finger. His shoe size would be a size 22 (15.5 inches), similar to Shaquille O'Neal.
-    Rumpel wears four different wigs in the movie: business wig, speech wig, angry wig and victory wig.  
-    Rumpel's feet are 6.25 inches long, about the size of an average two- or three-year-old child.
-    Reference for the battle between ogres and witches was created using motion-capture technology. Three actors with more than 22 years of combined martial arts experience, including one Aikido instructor and one U.S. collegiate Wushu champion, marked the motion-capture sequence for the actors. 
-    There were 65 sequences written, recorded and storyboarded over the course of filmmaking. The final film had 32 sequences in picture.  
-    In the ogre camp, there are 35 torches in 59 shots. That's 2,065 layers of torches, and 4,130 layers accounting for stereo.   
-    The Shrek Forever After crew generated 74,016 different ogre variations, of which the same 51 were used throughout all the ogre shots.
-    There are 430 witches on the dance floor and balconies when Shrek is brought in to meet Rumpel.
-    Underwear had to be fashioned for the ogres whose kilts were a little too revealing as they danced to Piper's song. Witches with similar problems simply had their cloth simulations revised.
-    Reference for the dancing ogres with Pied Piper was a video of a professional dance troupe with about a dozen members. The choreographer was Michael Rooney, Mickey Rooney's son.
-    Fiona's old castle room has 449,166 pieces of particles floating around in the air.