How are Shrek and Kung Fu Panda made?

How are Shrek and Kung Fu Panda made?

How are Shrek and Kung Fu Panda made?

Updated 19 June 2014, 10:49 AEST

We go behind the scenes of some of the world’s most famous animated films at the DreamWorks Animation exhibition in Melbourne.

Walking down the stairs to the underground exhibition hall of Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI) at Melbourne’s landmark Federation Square, a world of animation is revealed.

From the mischievous penguins in Madagascar to the grumpy but loveable ogre Shrek, DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition – Journey From Sketch to Screen features more than 400 works of art including rare and never-before-seen character sketches, models and original artworks.

Sarah Tutton, curator at ACMI, explains this part of the animation process often goes unappreciated.

“People often don’t think about how those films were made, how the artists worked, the drawings that were made, the acting that was done behind the scenes,” she says. “The exhibition gives audiences an understanding of the depth of the work and detail and craft and artistry that film makers undertake to make an animated film ... It sort of pulls across that curtain.”

The current exhibition is not only the biggest in ACMI’s history, but also a world-first look at DreamWorks Animation’s work.

“It is about showcasing filmmakers’ work … and giving people the sense of the process,” Sarah says. “Animated films are made by a team of people. They are not really about the stars. They are not about the directors. They are really a team effort of artists working very, very, very hard to create every single detail of those films.”

The idea for the exhibition was born when Bill Damaschke, chief creative officer of DreamWorks Animation, was in Australia visiting the Melbourne-based studio responsible for building creatures for their How to Train Your Dragon stage show. He visited ACMI and was so impressed by their exhibitions he approached them with the prospect of hosting a show about DreamWorks' animated films.

Australian artists have been working behind the scenes for Hollywood blockbusters for many years. But it was Happy Feet, an Australian co-production directed by Australian George Miller, that finally put Australia on the industry’s map. Now with three Oscars in the past ten years, Australia is fast becoming a big name in the world’s animation industry. Recent Australian successes include work on films like Gravity and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

“I think Australian artists bring a very unique aspect to making films and particularly to making animated films. Artists like (Oscar winning directors) Adam Elliot or Shaun Tan are perfect examples of artists who’ve created their own worlds and taken them overseas to the world and had an amazing response to that," Sarah says. 

Besides blowing your mind, Sarah also hopes the exhibition will encourage visitors to get involved in animation.

“We also wanted to give people the sense that you too can do this, that making these animated films is something that people can aspire to, that’s something that’s fascinating and interesting and in depth.”