ArtScience Museum : Dreamworks Animation – How Characters Came to Life

I just got back from Chiang Mai and I had a list of events all lined up for me after I touched down Singapore. One of which is ArtScience Museum’s latest exhibition, DreamWorks Animation which was launched about a week after The Deep exhibition. And this time, I was on an important mission – to have Doug Cooper, Visual Effects Supervisor at DreamWorks Animation, answer a question posed by my boyfriend who is into animation. I remembered distinctly that I was the first who stretches out my hands in the air to ask a question during the press conference. I swear that I’ve never really participated in a media press conference because most of the time I was just sitting down, busy taking photographs and wondering what others would ask. But man, it did really take some courage to be directing a question to someone up there.

Qn: This exhibit indeed does create an appreciation for what goes on behind-the-scenes in an animated feature. I also understand that Dreamworks recently has developed a new animation tool known as Apollo, which has created a much more effecient pipeline for your animators. It seems that you guys are giving back to the animation industry. Moving forward, is that the direction that the company is taking? ( Credits to Samuel Toh)

And so, Doug Cooper answered and I managed to take a video of him. I might be able to load it up somewhere I guess! Stay tuned!

What DreamWorks Animation has to really offer a chance for the public to discover the magic that goes into creating all-time favourite animated films like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train You Dragon. And for me, it is a discovery of the animators’ world and looking at how from a 2D drawing could be transformed into something so magical and revolutionary using technology. And for DreamWorks, it’s more like providing an educational platform for the people, especially the younger ones, to find what how animations works from the huge transformation from initial sketches and models to big-screen debuts.

The tour was led by Chris Harris, Senior Manager, Australian Centre for Moving Image exhibitions and Touring as well as Doug Cooper himself.

Taking a peek in the world of animation
From conceptual drawings, models and paintings, there were the first work of art by animators. How Shrek came to look like it is today is a result of a series of transformation and revisions. It looks more like an Ogre previously but now, it’s an amiable troll that we all love.
There are three main galleries: Character, Story and World.

The Character Gallery

This is the idea blossoms and bloom over a period of time. From a skerrick of an idea and sheer creativity, one could witness how it develops into fully animated personalities on-screen.

There are 50 exquisitely carved maquettes or models illustrating how the character looks like in 3D.

Decide the expressions on these character faces for yourself! It’s all part of the experience of creating an animation.

The Story Room is where you get to understand about how Storyboard artists, directors writers and producers spent countless hours pitching ideas, sketching scenes, developing plots and writing dialogues. It’s almost like a visit to DreamWorks Animation office though it would have been more fun to visit their actual office.

This is probably how an animator’s desk would look like; with several coffee mugs and sketches strewn over the table.

Catch filmmaker Conrad Vernon who performed, step-by-step, his story pitch for the infamous ‘Interrogating Gingy’ scene in Shrek. 

An interactive booth to engage the little ones in creating their own cartoon flipbook.

The highlights of this exhibit is the 180 degree 3D film called the Dragon Flight: A Dragon’s-Eye View of Berk which is found at the World section of the exhibit. It’s simply breathe-taking; as if you were riding on the back of the dragon, toothless, flying about in the sky with the Isle of Berk surfacing beneath you.

Every scene, colour and details captured on an animated film requires alot of effort to put everything together. Each scene probably takes hours and to produce a movie itself, the production hours could probably take months. This exhibition really got me thinking about how much work is put into animated films. In the making of the movie Shrek, the effects department actually had to take mud showers and soaked cookie in milk for many times to study fluid dynamic simulation for the film. 

Another part of the exhibition not to be missed is the drawing room where you can create your very own short animation sequence with the same software that DreamWorks’ Animation animators use. 

Doug Cooper demonstrated to the media on how to use the software. It was way too cool!

Dreamworks Animation : The Exhibition

Open from now till 27 September 2015

Ticketing info:

Adult : S$22
Senior Citizen (65 years and above) : S$18
Child (2-12 years) : S$14
* Singapore Residents enjoys a special rate. Click here for more information on the ticketing prices.

Opening hours:
10am to 7pm
(Last admission at 6.00pm)

Programmes and guided tours:

Check this link for updated information

50% off Singapore Resident Senior Ticket for all Exhibitions on Mondays
[Available only at Marina Bay Sands Box Office]
[Valid from 1 Apr 2015 – 31 Dec 2015]
For more information, visit ArtScience Museum website.

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