The power of HP technology and the creative strength of DreamWorks Animation
SKG Inc. fuse once again as the studio’s bar-raising achievement
in 3-D animation, “How to Train Your Dragon,” hits theaters today.
Audiences will experience thousands of fire-breathing flying dragons and
hundreds of armored Vikings along with crashing waves and lush forests – all in
spectacular 3-D. The film’s technological breakthroughs a|re due in part to the
unprecedented power of the HP technology that helped bring to life the
characters and story of “How to Train Your Dragon.” This includes HP Z800
Workstations, HP ProLiant
blade servers, HP Halo
Telepresence Solutions, HP DreamColor displays, storage
solutions and HP
“How to Train Your Dragon” is an adventure comedy set in a mythical world of
Vikings and wild dragons that is based loosely on the book by Cressida Cowell.
The film tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in
with his tribe’s long-standing tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s
world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and
his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.
For ultimate performance, production artists at DreamWorks Animation used
powerful HP Z800 Workstations to design everything on the film from characters
to lighting. According to DreamWorks Animation, the HP Z800 proved to be
significantly faster than its predecessor – providing speeds up to 50 percent
“At DreamWorks Animation, technology and creativity go hand in hand and a
large part of my job is to ensure that our filmmakers can dream without
boundaries,” said Ed Leonard, chief technology officer, DreamWorks Animation.
“With the help of HP’s amazing technological breakthroughs, our artists are able
to bring our worlds and characters to life on screen in sequences that are just
as detailed and visually rich as they can possibly imagine.”
Released in 2001, Dreamworks Animation’s original “Shrek” film used more than
6 terabytes of data and required nearly 5 million render hours. With the
artistic bar rising ever higher, the production of “How to Train Your Dragon”
used nearly 100 terabytes of data and more than 50 million render hours.
DreamWorks Animation’s current render farm – a grouping of computers that
work in concert to process animation sequences – is the largest and most
powerful render farm ever used in the studio’s production of a
computer-generated (CG) animated film. Relying on a render farm that comprised
more than 25,000 computing cores, the production of “How To Train Your Dragon”
kept nearly 10,000 cores busy almost 100 percent of the time – 24 hours a day, 7
days a week for 28 weeks.
“DreamWorks Animation is a leader in bringing the next big thing in
animation,” said Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager, Workstations
Global Business Unit, HP. “HP thrives on working with customers like DreamWorks
that continually push us to bring them the technology they demand to make their
business more productive.”
To achieve new looks in lighting, DreamWorks Animation worked with
award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. Using HP Z800
Workstations to control a powerful array of back-end HP ProLiant blade servers,
Deakins was able to interactively explore and design the lighting in full
final-frame quality with DreamWorks Animation VFX and CG supervisors.
HP Halo helps DreamWorks Animation connect
DreamWorks Animation teams are enjoying deeper, more effective collaboration
as the studio continues to use HP Halo
Telepresence Solutions. For “How to Train Your Dragon,” creative teams in
Glendale and Redwood City, Calif., met face to face, virtually, via HP Halo.
Using the system’s high-definition collaboration screen, teams were able to work
on the detailed, CG characters and environments that bring the film to life.
In particular, HP Halo was an instrumental part of collaboration between
directors, art designers and the effects artists on “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The filmmakers’ ambition was to match the unique personalities of each dragon
with a distinct fire style while maintaining the overall artistic direction.
Having the ability to pull the different development teams into one virtual room
for reviews and feedback helped to enable that artistic achievement.
Fun facts about ”How to Train Your Dragon”
- At 1,630 shots, the film has the highest shot count produced by DreamWorks
- More than 800 Vikings appeared in a single shot
- More than 2,500 dragons in another single shot
DreamWorks Animation uses HP Designjet Z6100 Printers in nearly every
production to print large color images, such as visual development shots for
large landscapes or final character images for marketing, tours and
presentations. A printed drawing allows the production crew to see both the
larger picture and the subtle nuances of the shot.