The animation studio that championed tough princesses and unlikely heroes is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a world-first exhibition in Melbourne.
DreamWorks, the studio behind movies series Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, will display more than 400 rare and never before seen artworks, sketches, models and story boards at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Co-founder and chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg says visitors to the exhibition will experience the next best thing to being at the DreamWorks studio in California.
“All I can say is `wow’,” he said.
“We look forward to it touring the world so others can learn about the method, the madness and most of all the magic of animation.”
Chief creative officer Bill Damaschke says although there is no house style for DreamWorks films, the power of the underdog is a common thread.
“We tell stories about the unlikely hero, whether it’s the fat panda who has no chance of becoming a kung fu master or the snail who could never win the Indianapolis 500 or the ogre who could never find someone to love him.
“Our princess, she has a secret that she’s an ogre and can kick arse.”
Each film, consists of more than 130,000 frames, usually takes between four and five years to make and involves around 400 artists.
Madagascar production designer Kendal Cronkhite says creators of the series tipped their hat to old school 1960s animator Tex Avery, who created the cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
She says she was especially proud of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.
“That was the one where it all really came together – the big slapstick comedy but with heart and beautiful visuals.”
The exhibition features an 180-degree short film created especially for the ACMI – Dragon Flight: a Dragon’s Eye View of Berk. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is out in Australian cinemas on July 4.
There is also a film of artist Conrad Vernon, voice of the Gingerbread Man, pitching a storyboard for Shrek.
* Dreamworks Animation The Exhibition: Journey From Sketch To Screen will run at ACMI from April 10 to October 5, 2014.