DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition

Special Exhibition

Journey From Sketch to Screen

December 8, 2017 – April 8, 2018

From the makers of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, comes an extraordinary exhibition celebrating over 20 years of DreamWorks Animation!

DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition features over 350 items including rare and never-before-seen concept drawings, models and original artworks, interviews and interactive displays from DreamWorks much-loved and favourite animated classics.

Take a fascinating and exciting journey from original sketches of grumpy ogres and friendly dragons, to the amazing stories and worlds brought to the screen by DreamWorks’ award-winning artists.

The exhibition is divided into three parts: Character, Story and World. Each section features interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, original concept art and maquettes. Together they chart the DreamWorks Animation creative journey from an original kernel of an idea through a fully realised animated film.

The exhibition is developed by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and DreamWorks Animation.

Image: © 2017 DreamWorks Animation L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.

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The Secrets of Animation: Fun facts

  • Storyboard artists for Kung Fu Panda created 100,000 storyboard sequences to help the animators visualize and plan each shot!
  • Storyboard artists for animated films have to be good at drawing AND performing so they can “pitch” each scene by acting it out.
  • Computer-generated previsualization makes it easy for animators to experiment with composition, perspective and movement before fully animating a scene. So why do they still rely on the traditional craft of storyboarding? The exhibition explains the advantages of both techniques.
  • Did you know that each member of the Furious Five in Kung Fu Panda has a distinct martial arts style to match their different personality? Computer animators made Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane’s fight moves so thrillingly realistic.
  • The 2D, hand-drawn opening sequence of Kung Fu Panda stands out from the rest of the 3D, computer-animated film. It’s a dream world of anime-like graphics in inky colours, like traditional woodblock prints, and the images flow vertically, like an unfurling Chinese scroll.
  • Filmmakers for Kung Fu Panda 2 travelled to panda sanctuaries and mountain temples in China to find inspiration. The film’s fictional Gongmen City is based on the ancient walled city of Pingyao.
  • Look carefully at the stars of the movie Madagascar and you’ll see that each is based on a geometric shape. Alex the lion is all triangles, Marty the zebra a cylinder, Gloria the hippo a circle and Melman the giraffe a skinny stick.
  • The zoo animal caper, Madagascar, combines state-of-the-art computer animation with classic cartoon techniques. One is the classic “squash and stretch,” where characters deform when they’re in motion and snap back into shape when they stop.
  • Maquettes — clay or plaster sculptures of animated characters — give animators a common reference when they’re working on the same character, and let them visualize it from different angles. Real maquettes are on display in the exhibition.
  • It took 80 animators one week to produce each minute of the 84-minute “claymation” movie, Chicken Run. The painstaking technique of stop-motion animation requires physically moving puppets in tiny increments, frame by frame.
  • In most animated films, animals are anthropomorphized, meaning they act and talk like people. In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the hero is portrayed as a real wild mustang in the American West. He never speaks out loud, but communicates with other horses through movement and sound.
  • Realistic, relatable facial expressions are the most challenging part of an animated character’s “performance.” Character animators who create that magic are like actors, using careful movement to convey emotions and tell a story.
  • Lighting artists “paint” with light to give animated films their final look. They add mood, depth and realism to every scene by adjusting colour and the intensity of light and shadows, and by creating the illusion of wet surfaces, among other tricks.


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