2Welcome to Hollywood
DreamWorks SKG, founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, was spun off into a public company in 2004 called DreamWorks Animation SKG. Its Glendale campus, located just north of the Los Angeles Zoo and Griffith Park and over the Hollywood Hills from Hollywood itself, is a lovely oasis in an industrial neighborhood.
3Multi-core machines leading ‘new wave’ in video-making
DreamWorks is the first movie studio to use multicore-powered workstations. Most of the company’s CG stations have 12-core machines capable of 24-thread computing. Where it once took 8 hours to render a single frame of a movie like “Dragon,” it now takes merely several minutes. That’s huge in terms of time and cost-savings.
4More cache, less power from the wall
The HP Z-series workstations offer about 50 percent more cache than previous versions (up to 24MB), which helps speed along processing in a big way. The Intel Xeon 5600 Westmere processors inside the workstations also run cooler, require less power and cooling energy, and have improved security features.
5Dragons and Scottish-sounding Norsemen are the stars
6Dragons with lots of personality
When CG artists put together all the attributes that comprise a character, several iterations must be made up, starting with modeling, and moving to rigging, hair and fur, clothing and surfacing. This is all very detailed—and often tedious—CG work. It takes a certain type of personality to excel at this and DreamWorks has found hundreds of folks who fit this bill. The next few slides feature close-ups of each of these categories.
10Coming to life on workstations screens
11Stoic, the dragon slayer
12Gobber, the scarred dragon fighter
13Up next: 3D modeling for the screen
14Rigging: Where polygons move in CG ‘reality’
Here is where mathematics, science, high-performance computing, artistry and professionalism of the artist all come together. Every square inch of a moving character is plotted out as to how it moves, how it interacts with other characters, how it is affected by wind and water, how hair moves and falls. There are hundreds of factors and variables involved here. And they all have to be orchestrated perfectly to show the audience “reality.”
15Fur, hair, clothing
17Ready to see the finished work
Here eWEEK Senior Writer Chris Preimesberger, left, and HP staff members Rob Dieterle, center, and Chris Convertito don their 3D glasses and settle down to preview “How to Train Your Dragon” at the DreamWorks studio.