Including Director Chris Miller
By Charlotte Brewster
Visual Effects Supervisor, Philippe Gluckman, explained that their role is in partnership with the production designer to execute all of the visuals for the film. The designer conceives the look on paper, and the effects team executes it on the computer. Lighting has a team of 50 artists with Effects home to 20.
The lighting process is a virtual version of what you would see on a live action set. “The lighters move around virtual lights and pretty much instantly see the results of their lighting as it shines on the surfaces,” said Philippe. The Shrek franchise goes for a realistic look, and Global Illumination (the technique that tries to emulate what light does in real life) is helping to achieve that more than ever in the latest in the series.
Head of Effects, Matt Baer, explained, “We do everything from big, in-your-face effects to very subtle things like leaves moving and grass gently blowing. On Shrek the Third we started experimenting more with fluid dynamics rather than particle simulations for the fire. One challenge is that it’s a lot more difficult to control. You’re playing with fire, but the computer’s figuring it out for you.” Then they fine tune for scale and speed: beaucoup de layers.
Matt added, “A lot of the fire effects surprisingly come from these funny moments in the film, which is great for effects animators who want to be more involved in funny things. There’s a shot where a bra gets caught on fire, so we had to go out a buy a bra and lighter fluid…” Oh, I bet there were pranks that day!
Finally, with our brains on sensory overload, we got to meet with Director, Chris Miller; Co-Director, Raman Hui; and Producer, Aron Warner.
On the comedic crossover appeal, AW: “It’s not really calculated. If it doesn’t make us laugh, it doesn’t stay in the movie. There’s stuff that makes us laugh that appeals to our adult side, and there’s stuff that appeals to our completely juvenile, childlike sense of humor. So we end up with a good combo just by going with our gut. I think it would be awful to sit there and go, ‘we have to have a kid joke here and an adult joke there.’ In a way I’d like to say that we do calculate that because it would make us seem smart, but we just do what works.”
On the appeal to kids, AW: “We don’t’ talk down to them. It’s not who we are as people or storytellers. It’s fun for us.”
On the tone in Shrek the Third, AW: “This film is very similar in tone. There are a lot more characters, and it’s a bit more of a character-driven story that propels everybody along. It feels a little more rooted in story than the other two.”
On Justin Timberlake, AW: “He’s a really natural comedian and a strong actor too.”
On pop culture references, AW: “We don’t’ have a lot of pop culture references in the film. There are a few here and there, but it’s not our mainstay.” CM: “We kind of pulled away from it just because it seems like the first Shrek came out, and a lot of animated films grabbed onto that idea.”
On Disney, AW: “It’s more about what’s in our consciousness than it’s ever been about pointing a finger specifically at anybody. When you’re doing a Shrek story with the princesses in it, you’re going to remember the stuff you grew up with and wanting to have fun with it.”
On Shrek 4, CM: “There is a little bit more of a time gap but not much. There’s something really cool about having it feel like it’s all one time. I think it’s a subconscious way of having it feel more real.”
On Shrek having a baby, CM: “It’s the right time for it for everybody that works here too. There are a lot of parents who work here. We all seem to be entering that phase of our lives, so it’s very relevant. We can relate to projectile vomiting…”
On the Broadway production, AW: “It’s going to be fantastic. I’ve seen quite a bit of it, and it’s being done with great integrity and honor to the franchise. I think it’s going to be awesome and very unexpected.”
On the diversity of the animators, RH: “The comedy is more global. I’m from Hong Kong, and everyone gets it. They love all the characters. It’s not a problem.”
· King Harold (the frog) croaks.
· Shrek must fill his regal shoes.
· Fiona’s preggers with a wee ogre!
· Puss In Boots and Donkey switch bodies.
· Artie is a young King Arthur.
· The princesses’ posse includes Sleeping Beauty—everyone’s favorite narcoleptic.