Lincoln Wallen, head of research and development at Dreamworks, took to the stage at IDF to premiere a clip of ‘How to train your dragon’, a new computer animated film scheduled for release in March 2010. The voiceover trained the human characters in how to stay in the dragon’s blind spot, and how to clamp its jaws shut, but with hilariously painful consequences when they slipped up. The best thing about the clip (below) was the richness of the animation: the human and dragon characters all had highly expressive faces and body language, and were rendered with great fluidity and richness.
“Our teams (Dreamwork’s and Intel’s) have been working together for about a year,” said Lincoln. “It’s been a pretty intense collaboration. We talk about Shrek’s Law, a way of communicating that with each iteration of the Shrek franchise, the power required to meet our creative appetite doubles. There was a dragon in Shrek 1, but in our next movie, dragons are some of the main story characters. Some scenes have more than 1,000 dragons performing at the same time. Our creatives want them to be central characters, able to emote and bond with other characters. The complexity of animation is astounding. We need four times the animation controls.”
He showed the animator’s view of a dragon thrashing around, with the lighting and surfacing removed. There are over 4,000 controls for the animator to use. The final film will be released in 3D (although the preview was 2D), and the whole process from workflow to rendering is being carried out using Intel Core products.
The new clip was a great example of how multicore is changing the movies we consume. That’s not just in terms of how things are presented. It’s also enabling new types of stories to be filmed (you want 1,000 dragons? No problem!), and new types of jokes to be created. One of the best moments in the preview clip was the way the dragon and human locked eyes at the moment they both realised the dragon actually had the upper hand. It was only a fleeting glance, but it looked so lifelike, and as a result got one of the biggest laughs from the crowd of IDF attendees.