MONTREAL, Feb. 24, 1997 — Softimage Inc., the world’s leading high-end 3-D animation software company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced that DreamWorks SKG is using Softimage® 3D, Softimage Eddie and Mental Ray to create its new film project “Shrek.” Driven by DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, “Shrek” will be a milestone production in content creation and the first full-length computer-generated film to use motion capture as its primary tool for character animation. While developing breakthrough animation techniques for both motion capture and facial animation, DreamWorks will stay at the front edge of technology by upgrading to Softimage version 3.7 and “Sumatra,” the code name for the next generation of Softimage 3D.
“Shrek,” slated for release in 1999, will be a full-length 3-D computer-generated animated feature based on the children’s book by William Steig. This unique film has all the makings of a traditional fairy tail … until a hulking, ugly, smelly, ogre named Shrek shows up instead of Prince Charming. Shrek is an ogre, but he evokes the audience’s sympathy with the emotions he shows on his face. DreamWorks is layering motion capture and traditional animation to create characters with strikingly realistic movement. To refine its production process, DreamWorks is using the SAAPPHIRE and Mental Ray components of the Softimage SDK on Silicone Graphics Inc. (SGI) workstations with an SGI Origin 200 renderfarm to create customized plug-ins for facial animation, hierarchical b-spline modeling and rendering.
Because of DreamWorks’ drive to remain at the brink of technology, the company chose Softimage 3D, Softimage Eddie and Mental Ray for virtually all of the content creation, modeling, animation, rendering and compositing of this production.
“With ‘Shrek,’ we wanted to really push the envelope of animation in a nontraditional manner,” said Bill Villarreal, co-head of technology for feature animation at DreamWorks SKG. “We chose Softimage for the entire content creation of this production because we knew it was the only company that could provide us quality products with the understanding of an artist’s heart and soul. This unity is what we needed to take animation to a much higher plane.”
DreamWorks plans to stay at the front end of Softimage releases by upgrading to Softimage 3D version 3.7 and Mental Ray version 2.0 this spring, and later to Sumatra. “Softimage version 3.7 begins the path to Sumatra, which allows us to continually stay on the cutting edge of technology while keeping tight production deadlines,” Villarreal said. “This is critical for the success of a multiyear production of ‘Shrek”s magnitude.”
“Our entertainment consumers, like DreamWorks, demand products with premium capabilities across the entire content-creation spectrum while providing the creative environment essential for artists to break new ground in production,” said Daniel Langlois, president of Softimage. “What people will see in version 3.7, and to a greater dimension with Sumatra, is an extension of Softimage’s core vision – a fully integrated animation, modeling and rendering toolset with the mind of an artist.”
To ensure that the best minds in digital content are behind “Shrek,” DreamWorks chose to consult the expertise of Softimage’s special projects team. Based at the Softimage L.A. Studio, the special projects team is composed of experts from around the world in many fields of 3-D animation techniques. One of its roles is to help Softimage customers such as DreamWorks create new special effects and solutions for unique 3-D animation problems. This includes creating custom interface design, software programming, motion-capture techniques, virtual set technologies, rendering and networking solutions.
“Shrek” will be directed by Kelly Asbury and Matt O’Callaghan and produced by John Williams, Ron Tippe and John Garbett along with PropellerHead Design Inc. Jeffrey Abrams, Rob Letterman, Loren Soman and Andy Waisler. Written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the voice talent lined up for “Shrek” includes actors Chris Farley, Janeane Garofalo and Eddie Murphy.
DreamWorks SKG was formed in October 1994 by its three principal partners – Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen – as a single company to produce live-action motion pictures; animated feature films and television programs; network, syndicated and cable television programming; records; books; toys; consumer products; and interactive entertainment. The company is a unique and original enterprise, conceived and designed from the point of view of the artists who work there, to encourage and nurture creative breakthroughs in every field of entertainment.
Founded in 1986, Softimage develops software for media-rich applications including video, film, interactive games and CD-ROM applications. Products include Softimage 3D (high-end animation), Softimage Eddie (compositing) and Softimage Toonz (2-D cel animation). The company was acquired in 1994 by Microsoft. Additional information about Softimage and Microsoft can be found on the Internet at (http://www.softimage.com/) and http://www.microsoft.com /, respectively.
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