SHREK: THE WHOLE STORY Blu-ray Box-Set Event and Interviews

     November 22, 2010

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Shrek. So thoroughly has the character permeated pop culture and zeitgeist – that no context or explanation is needed with the word. It has an almost pavlovian response on the listener. I say Shrek and images of a green ogre, pop culture references, sight gags, Eddie Murphy and a soon-to-be-eaten ginger bread man pop to mind. This can perhaps be attributed to the character’s ubiquitous nature – from the films to lunch boxes to Halloween costumes to ABC specials to commercial tie ins to action figures, Shrek quite simply is everywhere. DreamWorks will further propel its plan for Shrek domination by releasing all four films in a box set for the very first time December 7th, just in time for the Christmas season. In anticipation of the release of the new digitally remastered Blu-ray, an informal Q&A and discussion was held with the some of the principle visual and audio technicians on the upcoming Shrek box set at DreamWorks headquarters in Los Angeles.  Hit the jump for more:

Wendy Rogers, VFX Supervisor on the Shrek Blu-ray remaster, discussed coming back and working on the film that began her career at DreamWorks, as well as what visual differences there are between the new Blu-ray and the standard def version. Jim Beshears (Editorial and Post Production Executive) and Ethan Van der Ryn (Sound Effects) talked about remixing and refining the audio for the upcoming disc. And finally Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of DreamWorks Animation, reminisced about the importance Shrek had on his burgeoning film company. For all this, plus an in depth overview of all the special features on the Shrek Blu-ray, hit the jump.

jeffrey_katzeneberg_shrek_01Jeffrey Katzenberg opened the discussion/presentation of the Blu-ray by contextualizing the release of Shrek and its importance to the foundation of DreamWorks Animation.

JEFFREY KATZENBERG: To talk a little bit about Shrek and what its meant for the company – when we started DreamWorks now more than sixteen years ago probably the greatest ambition that we had for the company was to find a different kind of animated film. As you know, I spent ten years at the Disney company – loved everyday I was there, felt very challenged, excited and ultimately rewarded by this incredible legacy and heritage from Walt Disney. When I left Disney, it was very important for me that here at DreamWorks we find our own path. What could be a DreamWorks film? The Disney legacy and heritage is singular and very special and always something that I’ve held in the highest regard and it’s theirs. I wanted us to find something that someday might be held in a high regard but that could very much be something that would be our own brand, would have our own set of values that people would associate when they hear ‘DreamWorks’. So we set out on a path here to find that holy grail.

We made a really serious and dramatic movie with The Prince of Egypt and we made a very sort of sophisticated comedy with Ants. We made a satirical unique style of animation called Chicken Run. All these things and other films along the way were the important building blocks and experiments for us to try and find what is a DreamWorks animated film. Then in 2001, the big green ogre arrived and there was the answer. Shrek became our north star and it showed us what a DreamWorks animated movie should and could aspire to be. It’s distinctive, not like anything else anybody does. It’s not a Disney movie. It’s not a Pixar movie. That has led us on our path and it has informed us in many of the creative choices and directions that we’ve taken and continue to take everyday for our company.

Katzenberg segued from such reminiscing into discussing the new Shrek Blu-ray:

KATZENBERG: The fact that we now are going to be able to bring them all [the Shrek films] together into one great collection and offer them for the first time both in Blu-ray and in 3D, I think is very exciting. The thing that I hope you will see is how much care – because this is now our heritage here – we have taken to insure that the quality of these four films and the way in which they are being presented is the Tiffany standard. We try to lavish everything we have on making them a fantastic experience and a great value for the Shrek fans and customers all over the world.

Next, Wendy Rogers came upstage to discuss the updated visuals on the Blu-ray.

shrek_the_whole_story_blu-ray_box_art_01Rogers on returning to the Shrek franchise and the differences between the Blu-ray release vs. previous editions:

WENDY ROGERS: Shrek was my animation 101. It was the first movie I worked on at DreamWorks. So it was actually really great for me after all these years at the studio to revisit these films for a digital remaster and Blu-ray release. It was nearly ten years ago that Shrek was released and that original release was color graded on film. We’ve now done a digital color grade, which has enabled us to really balance the color and contrast with a lot more finesse than what we could do [before]. It also meant that we were able to balance the contrast with some finesse over the first three Shrek films. Our technology has really advanced over this time and when we looked back at the original frames of Shrek and to a lesser extent Shrek 2, we noticed a lot of what we call render artifacts – where our render just wasn’t as sophisticated ten years ago. So we had an opportunity to go back in and correct over 700 shots for this digital remaster. But really above and beyond the digital remaster, the beauty of the Blu-ray is in the clarity of the images. The higher resolution and less compression Blu-ray means that we really can see the work the way that the filmmakers were seeing when they created and reviewed the images.

Rogers on creating and balancing a consistent color between all the Shrek films for the Blu-ray:

ROGERS: It’s more consistent. I mean – we can’t change the fact that there’s probably twelve years between the first frame and the last frame render. There’s a lot of sophistication, differences between the style of the first film and even the second and then the third and then the fourth. As you’ll see the texturing becomes more sophisticated and more detailed. It’s just a function of advances in technology so I think it’s more consistent and we try to balance the contrast a little more across the three films. But we didn’t want to go in and reinvent the movies.

Rogers then proceeded with a demonstration comparing the visuals of one scene from the digitally remastered Blu-ray with that from the previously released standard def. The scene in question, from the climax of the first Shrek, depicted Princess Fiona’s release from her curse and transformation into her natural self: an ogre. To my eye, the images on the Blu-ray appeared noticeably sharper and more focused than the standard def. Colors on the standard def seemed muted and slightly fuzzy whereas on the Blu-ray they seemed to pop. Characters, who looked flat on standard, gained a renewed sense of vitality from the Blu-ray. I must admit that I have been hesitant to jump aboard the Blu-ray wagon but upon watching Roger’s presentation, I found myself slowly being converted.

shrek_01After Rogers had finished, Jim Beshears took the stage to discuss the remixed audio.

JIM BESHEARS: We wanted to go back and take a look at the soundtrack, and again like on Wendy’s side the technology has advanced quite a bit in the last ten years from when we started on the first Shrek movie and we certainly wanted to take advantage of that. But the tools are available to everyone and what really makes a difference is the talent. So we went back and tried to figure out who would be the best person to come in here to take these tracks and really bring them up to date, to make them as good as they can be and the person we felt would be the right person to do that is Ethan Van der Ryn. Ethan for us did Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, Shrek Forever After, Megamind currently in the theaters and right now he’s working on Kung Fu Panda 2.

Ethan Van der Ryn joined Beshears to discuss remixing the audio and adding new sound to the tracks:

ETHAN VAN DER RYAN: Well first of all, I just wanted to say that when Jim first called me about this project I said hmm… that sounds like a really good challenge. I started looking into it and realized that it was something that had never been attempted before: to take a 5.1 original mix and remix it for this brand new 7.1 format, which is essentially two new speakers in the very back with discrete channels where we can put sound information discreetly. So I thought this is great because we get to do something that’s never been done before. We started out by going back to the original sound elements on each film starting with the first Shrek and looking for places where we can really make use of these new channels in the back and find ways to support the story, not wanting to alter the sonic integrity of the original vision and mix but to really make use of this new technology in a way that can support the story and the original vision. We went into every scene and we started by adding ambience to fill out the natural space. So [for] pretty much every scene, we added some sort of sound that just helps to make it a more immersive experience and then the action scenes in particular, provided us a really good place to make use of these new channels so any place where something is passing through the screen, we’re able to take the sound and basically follow the action right through the screen and through the space.

Much like Rogers did beforehand, Van der Ryn compared the sound in one scene from the standard def edition (a scene in which Shrek and Donkey cross a rickety bridge over lava to save the princess) to that of the same scene on the Blu-ray. Once again the change was quite noticeable. Dialogue, much easier to understand, seemed to stand out from the ambiences on the Blu-ray. Speaking of which, ambiences – the rustling of ropes, feet creaking, the popping of lava, wood giving way, the whistling of the night sky – all gained an added layer of depth and resonance in the new mix.

shrek_poster_01I walked away from the presentation appreciative of the new aesthetic improvements made for the Blu-ray. It is apparent to me that for any Shrek fans, this four-disc box set is undoubtedly the ideal version to own.

And if this isn’t enough Shrek to sate you – there is always the currently touring Shrek musical, the annual television/ABC-run specials Shrek the Halls & Scared Shrekless, the Shrek 4D theme park attraction and the upcoming theatrical Shrek-spinoff Puss in Boots (release date: Nov 4th, 2011) to hopefully alleviate your pains.

A 3D version of the Shrek Blu-ray set will be released in conjunction with Samsung’s HD 3D television as a promotional giveaway. The 2D Shrek remastered Blu-ray box set hits stores December 7th at $44.99.  For a list of all the special features on the Blu-ray, including the all-new holiday program Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular, might I point you to the press release below:

GLENDALE, CA (November 16, 2010) –  The wait is finally ogre as audiences celebrate the arrival of Shrek Forever After the final chapter of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: DWA) legendary Shrek franchise on Tuesday, December 7th.  The beloved green ogre will go on to live happily ever after as all four films debut together for the first time ever on dazzling Blu-ray in Shrek: The Whole Story with a special introductory price as low as $44.99 for a very limited time—making the box set an ideal and affordable holiday gift for everyone on your list.

Remastered for the most brilliant viewing experience and featuring uncompressed audio with two extra channels to provide an accurate spatial representation of the the theatrical sound mix in the home, this must-own collection encompasses the entire laugh-filled saga from the hilarious beginning to the magical and heartwarming end, delivering over 13 hours of extraordinary entertainment.

And the fairy tale ending gets even better.  Shrek: The Whole Story also includes
Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular, a brand new, holiday program that comes free with the purchase of the box set. The perfect holiday treat for the whole family, Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular features sing-alongs with your favorite characters as they perform holiday classics with Shrek-ized lyrics, as well as “Shrek’s Yule Log,” which features over 25 uproarious character appearances in front of a crackling virtual fireplace.

Additionally, the final chapter, Shrek Forever After, will debut in several configurations: DVD/Blu-ray combo and DreamWorks Animation’s signature Double DVD Pack, both of which include the all-new Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular.  Plus, both the DVD/Blu-ray Combo and Double DVD pack include hours of bonus features such as deleted scenes, secrets of Shrek Forever After, a look at “Shrek The Musical,” more holiday music, a 12 Days of Christmas pop-up book, interactive games and so much more.

DreamWorks’ SHREK: THE WHOLE STORY Blu-ray Box Set

For the first time ever, the entire Shrek saga is available in one complete set with hours of all-new bonus material and a brand new, free holiday program, Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular:

Shrek

  • Spotlight on Donkey
  • Secrets of Shrek
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music & More
  • Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party
  • Baha Men “Best Years of Our Lives”
  • Smash Mouth “I’m A Believer”
  • Shrek The Musical “What’s Up Duloc?”
  • The Animators’ Corner (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Shrek’s Interactive Journey: I (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • DreamWorks Animation Music Video Jukebox

Shrek 2

  • Spotlight on Puss In Boots
  • Secrets of Shrek 2
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Far Far Away Idol
  • Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music & More
  • Counting Crows “Accidentally In Love”
  • Puss In Boots “These Boots Are Made For Walking”
  • Shrek The Musical “I Know It’s Today”
  • The Animators’ Corner (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Shrek’s Interactive Journey: II (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • DreamWorks Animation Music Video Jukebox

Shrek The Third

  • Spotlight on Fiona
  • Secrets of Shrek The Third
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Worcestershire Academy Yearbook
  • Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music & More
  • Donkey Dance
  • Shrek the Musical “Freak Flag”
  • The Animators’ Corner (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Shrek’s Interactive Journey: III (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • How To Be Green
  • DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox

Shrek Forever After

  • Spotlight on Shrek
  • Secrets of Shrek Forever After
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music & More
  • From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek The Musical
  • “Who I’d Be”
  • “Darling I Do” Music Video
  • The Animators’ Corner (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Shrek’s Interactive Journey: IV (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Conversation with the Cast
  • The Tech of Shrek Forever After
  • Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-tacular
  • Shrek’s Yule Log
  • 12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book
  • Donkey’s Decoration Scramble
  • Cookin’ with Cookie

DreamWorks’ SHREK FOREVER AFTER DVD/Blu-ray Combo

The Shrek Forever After DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack allows you to watch the final chapter in standard or high definition with these exciting bonus features:

Disc One (DVD):

  • Spotlight on Shrek
  • Secrets of Shrek Forever After
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek The Musical

Disc Two (Blu-ray):

  • The Animators’ Corner (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Shrek’s Interactive Journey: IV (Blu-ray EXCLUSIVE)
  • Spotlight on Shrek
  • Secrets of Shrek Forever After
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Conversation with the Cast
  • The Tech of Shrek Forever After
  • Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music & More
  • From Swamp to Stage: The Making of Shrek The Musical
  • Shrek The Musical “Who I’d Be”
  • “Darling I Do” Music Video
  • Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-tacular
  • Shrek’s Yule Log
  • 12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Book
  • Donkey’s Decoration Scramble
  • Cookin’ With Cookie

DREAMWORKS’ SHREK FOREVER AFTER SYNOPSIS

It started with a loveable ogre…who befriended a talking donkey…and rescued a beautiful princess in the unforgettable story that broke the mold for all animated films to follow.  Now comes SHREK FOREVER AFTER, the hilarious and fitting finale to the record-breaking, Oscar®-winning movie phenomenon.

Longing for the days when he was a “real ogre,” Shrek signs a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to get his roar back…but turns his world upside down in the process.  Donkey suddenly can’t remember his best friend; Fiona is now a tough warrior princess; and Puss in Boots is one fat cat!  Together, they have just 24 hours to reverse the contract and restore happily FOREVER after to close the final chapter.

DREAMWORKS’ SHREK FOREVER AFTER CAST

Shrek Forever After boasts a fairy-tale line-up of voice talent, including Mike Myers,
Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas,  Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Jon Hamm,
Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place,  Meredith Vieira, Ryan Seacrest, Larry King and Regis Philbin.

DREAMWORKS’ DONKEY’S CHRISTMAS SHREKTACULAR SYNOPSIS

Deck the halls with Donkey’s laughter in this all-new crazy and colorful collection of animated Christmas goodies and hilarious holiday surprises.  Donkey presents his very own caroling stage show featuring his Far Far Away pals in this merry, musical treat with all the trimmings! Join in the fun as they bring their own Shrektacular spirit to festive holiday songs, a fun Donkey Decoration scramble, and a hilarious Yule Log video that’s so funny… it’s on fire.

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