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DreamWorks - The Exhibition

By Heather 11 Feb 2016

Dream header

I want a two month pass for the DreamWorks exhibition at Te Papa (on until 28 March). 

I cruised along with my late-teen stepdaughter recently and found there’s so much information that its a hell of a challenge for one visit. And even if you only have a mild interest in movie animation, I think you'd still enjoy it because of the colour and tangibility. 

 Firstly we were introduced to the concept of character, story and world

  • DreamWorks characters challenge archetypes in a playful manner (their words!), for example, round and lazy Po still has formidable kung fu skills in Kung Fu Panda. They go from sketch to shape planning, to miniature model and colour, to animation movement, and finally voice matching. Jeepers, I was already in need of a cup of tea and a lie down, and we were only just getting started!
  • Then time-honoured stories are developed in heartfelt and entertaining ways to create defining moments (Puss-in-boot’s saucer eyes anyone?). This involves brainstorming story lines, sometimes altering book characters for more dimension, and drawing scene-by-scene story boards to pitch to producers.
  • And finally, unique worlds are created which must still be authentic and believable. How are colours significant in different cultures? What history belongs to these artefacts? Is the style of clothing right for the era? The music needs to evoke certain feelings at certain times, and the backgrounds need to move in ways that imitate reality. You can play on computers in this area to colour moving scenes, make waves (literally) and listen to some of DreamWorks’ key musical moments. 

Through all of these sections are a myriad of screens running movie clips, so there is truly no shortage of things to look at.

Luckily we stumbled across the Dragon Flight theatre (thank god, they had bean bags and large comfy benches to recline on!). While reclining in front of a large curved screen you will be taken on a 3.30 minute journey, from dragon creation (cute) to swooping through increasingly darker landscapes on the back of the beast. I recommend seeing it twice.

And finally, through a walkway over the main Te Papa concourse, you’ll find the Creative Zone, have a go at animating your own character and the kids will have fun dressing up in costume and colouring in their own artwork (check out Caprice below, a budding Weta animator I reckon).

In summary:

  • For teenagers – don’t go with an adult who wants you to dress up for photograph opportunities (but she makes a cute viking right?).
  • Wear plenty of clothes, its reasonably cool in there.
  • And allow loads of time. You won’t regret it.

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