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HP Powers 'Madagascar 3'

HP announced that its technology was used to create the breakthrough animation of the DreamWorks Animation 3-D movie, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” which hits U.S. theaters today.

Press release from HP:

PALO ALTO, CA – HP announced that its technology was used to create the breakthrough animation of the DreamWorks Animation 3-D movie, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which hits U.S. theaters today.

HP technology was used to help DreamWorks animators solve the artistic challenges that bring Europe’s Most Wanted to the big screen in the third installment of the blockbuster Madagascar franchise. It is the first time that global audiences can experience a Madagascar film in 3-D. The original film was released in 2005 and, together with its 2008 sequel, grossed $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office.

DreamWorks used HP technology that included HP Converged Infrastructure, HP Z Workstations, HP networking and server solutions, and digital rendering resources to create a new level of richness in an animated film.

“Our goal with every film is to push the limits of our creativity to bring the story to life for the audience,” said Ed Leonard, chief technology officer, DreamWorks Animation. “HP technology enables our artists to exceed those limits and focus on creating the most powerful 3-D animation experience.”

DreamWorks Animation uses HP technology throughout the production cycle, for everything from day-to-day tasks to developing the most detailed animation scenes and processing massive amounts of rendering data. Throughout the years, HP technology has played an integral role in creating DreamWorks’ groundbreaking animated features, including the Shrek series, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots.

Madagascar 3 tapped the power of several HP technologies, including:

  • Artists utilizing more than 200 high-performance HP Z800 Workstations to help create awide variety of deeply intricate, organic environments that exist in partdue to the extraordinary power of HP Workstations with multicoreprocessors. Artists used these workstations to help design everything inthe film—from the Zooster characters to digital effects such as complexfire and highly detailed crowd close-ups.
  • HP DreamColor technology was utilized in the film’s productionprocess to provide accurate and consistent color across print, monitor andthe big screen.
  • HPProLiant BL460c blade technology, geographically dispersed in fourserver render farms across the United States and India, provided peakcompute power at crucial stages of production. The blade servers poweredan incredible 200 terabytes of data and more than 65 million render hours.
  • HP Networking solutions including HP12500, 5800 and 6120 series switches, HPNetworking Intelligent Management Center, and HP IntelligentResilient Framework provided significantly improved levels of networkperformance while providing a simplified, single-pane-of-glass networkmanagement across the studio’s scalable 10G WAN/LAN environment. HP IBRIX X9720 Network Storage System enabled DreamWorks to respond to the demanding unstructured datarequirements of the studio while allowing for future growth.
  • HPEnterprise Services Flexible Hosted Rendering has provided DreamWorkswith high-performance computing power to get dynamic capacity on demandfor multiple computer graphics (CG) films. Over the course of the productioncycle, 12 percent of Madagascar 3 was rendered in the cloud.
  • DreamWorksAnimation also used HP ManagedPrint Services (MPS) to ease the complexity of print management andincrease productivity during the production of Madagascar 3. This process facilitates greater visibility intoinformation, thus enabling faster revenue generation. Through HP MPS,DreamWorks Animation is transforming paper-based workflows to reducewaste, cut costs and unleash employee productivity.

“HP Z Workstations power the creative genius at DreamWorks and help bring the next big thing in animation to audiences around the world,” said Jeff Wood, vice president, Worldwide Marketing, Commercial Solutions Business Unit, HP. “HP is committed to professionals in media and entertainment and will continue to work with leaders like DreamWorks to understand the needs of the industry and bring in the next big thing in technology."

Madagascar 3 fun facts

  • More than 120,000 individual computer-generated frames were used tocreate the film.
  • The majestic Circus Act sequence features the largest, most detailedcrowd in DreamWorks production history—more than 5,000 individualcharacters. The scene includes several special effects including haze,sparks, glow, fire and rain, and required 1.6 million render hours toproduce.
  • The Flashback sequence incorporates massive fire effects and highlydetailed crowd close-up shots that required 2.8 million render hours.
  • In the Running for the Train sequence, nearly 1,200 Euros are throwninto the air.
  • The Manhattan skyline originally didn’t have the new World TradeCenter—a DreamWorker from New York City who had just been down to thatarea was awestruck by the partially completed building and asked that itbe put in to show the amazing architecture.
  • Gia’s eyelashes have 96 tracks that can be animated.
  • Alex has more than 2,000 individual controls to allow the animatorsto position him into any conceivable pose.
  • Each person in the crowd scenes had three possible bodies, sixpossible heads and various wardrobe item possibilities, for a total ofmore than 19 million unique person combinations—for comparison, the NewYork City Metropolitan area just reached a population of 19 million thisyear.
  • There were 2,393 buildings in the Monaco set comprising 42 differentmodels, most of which had three variations. Many of the buildings hadother models scattered atop them (chairs, shrubbery, planter boxes andother constructs).
Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.