Friday Flashback #65


Thanks to Alan Fregtman for this week’s flashback!

Back in 1997 there were some neat press releases about Dreamworks using Sumatra for Shrek.

From the Microsoft News Center: DreamWorks SKG Chooses Softimage Exclusively For New Film Project “Shrek”

MONTREAL, Feb. 24, 1997 — Softimage Inc., the world’s leading high-end 3-D animation software company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced that DreamWorks SKG is using Softimage® 3D, Softimage Eddie and Mental Ray to create its new film project “Shrek.” Driven by DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, “Shrek” will be a milestone production in content creation and the first full-length computer-generated film to use motion capture as its primary tool for character animation. While developing breakthrough animation techniques for both motion capture and facial animation, DreamWorks will stay at the front edge of technology by upgrading to Softimage version 3.7 and “Sumatra,” the code name for the next generation of Softimage 3D.

For posterity, here’s a screenshot of the Microsoft press release:

From a press release for the Softimage 3.7 release:

Beta Testers Praise Version 3.7
DreamWorks SKG was so impressed with version 3.7 that it recently announced plans to use Softimage 3D, Softimage Eddie and Mental Ray as the predominant software on SGI workstations for the content creation of its full-length computer-generated film “Shrek.” Bill Villarreal, co-head of technology for feature animation at DreamWorks SKG, said, “We think the 3.7 release of Softimage is a very big step in what will become the next generation of computer graphics software. Other companies are working on architectures that they say will be the future of animation; Softimage 3.7 gives us those capabilities now.”

I wasn’t at Softimage back then, so I don’t have any first-hand knowledge about whether Dreamworks used Softimage for Shrek.

From a Shrek FAQ I found on google:

Q: What software was used to create Shrek?

A: PDI, which created Shrek, mostly uses its own proprietary software (like its own Fluid Animation System) for its animated movies. However, for some elements it also took advantage of some of the powerhouse animation programs available to the public. This is particularly true with Maya, which PDI used for most of its dynamic cloth animation and for the hair of Fiona and Farquaad. Photoshop was also used quite a bit in the art department. There was also a touch of Softimage used in the movie. But most of the software used was PDI exclusive, created by its research and development team.

These Shrek productions notes mention Maya, but not Softimage.

3 thoughts on “Friday Flashback #65

  1. With all that praise of 3.7 and Sumatra, I wonder what made them switch to Maya in the end.

    What version of Maya came out around that time? 6?

    • I think Maya 3.0 was released in Feb 2000. So, since Shrek was released in May 2001, they must have been using 3.0 or earlier.

  2. The press release was in 97, maya was still in beta back then, and I do believe that they actually did finish animation for the first one in SOFTIMAGE|3D.
    The specials definitely showed a fair bit of it.

    Shrek was PDI btw.
    Dreamworks was the early adopted of Maya, and they got joined at the hip later, and the pipeline fully shared only way, way later.

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