Exhibition Recap: DreamWorlds – Behind the Scenes, Production Art from DreamWorks Animation

Up Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles, and right by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, lies the campus of the University of Southern California. While it has plenty of your typical academic studies, one that it gained fame for over the years, was its Film School. Some of its noted alumni include George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and Judd Apatow (just to name a few).

USC’s School for the Cinematic Arts is nestled in a small corner of its campus, and almost resembles a small movie studio itself. Its founding was done so by such early screen visionaries as Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith. Today, a statue of Fairbanks stands between the George Lucas Building, and the Steven Spielberg Building. Nearby, one can find the John Williams Scoring Stage, and the Harold Lloyd Motion Picture Sound Stage.

Needless to say, as I walked through the courtyards, I dreamed of having a time machine to go back and explain to my teenage self about the wonders of the campus.

But on the day I visited, I came to the Steven Spielberg Building to view an exhibition entitled DreamWorlds – Behind the Scenes, Production Art from DreamWorks Animation.

I was a little surprised at what I found. After having been wowed with The Art of PIXAR exhibition in Oakland, CA back in 2010, I was expecting a large gallery space for Dreamworks Animation’s material. Instead, I found myself in a small room after taking a couple turns from the main entrance.

The highlight of the exhibit for me, were some of the original concept and production materials used in Dreamworks animated features. Such highlights included:

A bust of Pharaoh Seti from “Prince of Egypt”

Concept art of Cortes from “The Road to El Dorado”

A model of the Isle of Berk from “How to Train your Dragon”

While one wall of the exhibition was made up of original material from the studios’ archives, the adjoining walls were filled with non-original, digital prints of other artwork from the archives. Some were interesting to view, but I would have been more intrigued if they had been original art pieces as well.

Reproduced concept art from “Megamind,” “Bee Movie,” & “Over The Hedge”

In the center of the exhibition, was a screen that looped in with clips from Dreamworks’ features. It also showcased breakdowns of sequences from films like How to Train your Dragon, and also provided us with the trailer for the upcoming Rise of the Guardians. I’m hearing some decent word-of-mouth about Rise, and just might make my first return to the multiplex to see a Dreamworks animated feature since Shrek the Third. Yes, it’s been almost 5 years since I did a ‘theatrical boycott’ on Dreamworks Animation features because of that film (missed out on seeing How to Train Your Dragon on the big screen in the process).

Concept art for the upcoming film, “Rise of the Guardians”

Two video stations were also set up with headsets. One of them featured video testimony from former USC alumni who were now employed with Dreamworks. It seemed pretty persuasive (it made me want to consider working for them!). The other video station featured sets of RealD 3D glasses, and demonstrated Dreamworks’ features with 3D picture quality. I viewed a clip from Puss in Boots, and the majority of the imagery looked good, but I some areas of the image did not seem to phase properly.

For those expecting a full-on museum exhibit, you may be a little disappointed. However, if a little taste of Dreamworks Animation’s creativity on display is what you crave, the small-scale exhibition serves as a great way to view some production pieces outside of the typical Art of book releases.

However, if you do plan to visit, hurry fast. Dreamworlds will only be on display at USC’s Steven Spielberg building until September 7th, 2012.

Near the entrance/exit of the exhibit, 3 concept art pieces were hung for Chris Sanders & Kirk Di Micco’s upcoming 2013 release for the studio, “The Croods.” Here’s one of the art pieces.


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About MWH1980

Growing up in the state of Iowa, one would assume I'd be enamored with pigs and corn. Well, I wasn't. Instead, I grew fascinated by many things that were entertainment-related. Things like movies, animation, toys, books, and many more kept my attention. This blog I hope to use to express myself regarding my varied obsessions. (P.S. There's no Photoshop involved in that Gravatar-I really am holding an Oscar)

2 responses to “Exhibition Recap: DreamWorlds – Behind the Scenes, Production Art from DreamWorks Animation”

  1. Rich T says :

    Looks like a fun exhibit! Love that Berk model. How to Train Your Dragon is the *only* Dreamworks film I’ve enjoyed enough to wish Disney had done it (y’know…so they’d build Berk in Disneyland!) I hope “Rise of the Guardians” is a winner. Fingers crossed that the reindeer don’t fart…


    • MWH1980 says :

      I still wish it could have been bigger. I took over a dozen pictures of that Isle of Berk model (those little white specks on one plain are cotton, standing in for a flock of sheep).

      I think I may be doing an article later on in my ‘Animated Dissection’ column about Jeffrey Katzenberg, and how he seemed to be gunning for the Best Picture Oscar after “Beauty and the Beast” was nominated.


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