Shrek – Dreamworks
Shrek is the first CG animated film which featured realistic human characters . Shrek features realist animation e.g. believable human characters, clothing and sets that give a sense of realism to the audience. Shrek has over 180 animation controls on his face alone in order to create multiple facial expressions e.g. smile, frown, scared.
Real donkeys were observed, in order for the animators to get the movement of donkeys fur looking as realistic as possible. The animations observed liquids being poured into a jug, and milk being poured into a glass in order to get the movement correct and as real as possible.
A volume shader ( which is image information created on a surface and which occupies a 3D space )was made for the wings of the Fairy Godmothers and of the Pixies. The shader could motion blur the moving wings without needing for the character animators to animate them. Custom shaders were made to animate various character clothing such as Shrek’s leather vest, and Lord Farquaad’s red cape.
Shrek used its own animation system such as its own Fluid Animation system, but in addition used Autodesk Maya for the animation of cloth and also to animate the hair of Princess Fiona and Lord Faarquad. To get the body structure right of Shrek, the animators used a body system where it created all the muscles and bone structure of his body, and was also used for the other characters . This was achieved by using ‘shaper’ tools, to apply interacting layers of interacting fat, bone, skin, muscle, clothing and hair. This structure allowed Shrek and the other characters to flow better and become more expressive as the layers were able to interact with each other.
The skull of the character is made by the computer, and then the computer overlays muscles of the face, and then the skin is layered over and then is programmed to manipulate the muscles in order to produce, wrinkles and other facial expressions/impressions.
To create Donkeys fur, animators used a complex shader which used flow controls so it allowed the animators to control the swirl and direction of the fur. Then the visual effects team manipulated the fur to react to different environments such as rain, wind etc. This system was also applied to strand based elements such as grass and moss. Making hair required a separate rendering system along with lighting and VFX to make it realistic.
A shader determines how surfaces such as skin are affected by light by manipulating the skin shading controls hence its name- shader. The shader can also manipulate various surfaces from shiny to dull, smooth to bumpy etc.
Another type of shader was created to deal with the eyes of the characters. The irises of the characters such as donkey, or the fairy godmothers, are programmed to react to the amount of light in the scene. Virtual lights were added to each scene to give the gleam of lights that can be seen in their eyes.