It’s amazing to think that the DreamWorks Animation Studio is only a mere 20 years old. In such a relatively short time (compared to the likes of Disney) they’ve already established themselves as a major player in animation and delivered numerous box office successes including Shrek, Chicken Run, Madagascar and How To Train Your Dragon.
Founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, their early releases certainly boasted a strong start. In particular The Prince of Egypt was a tremendous achievement of epic set pieces and beautiful hand-drawn animation backed up by early CGI. From Antz to the upcoming release Home, The Art of DreamWorks Animation by Ramin Zahed collects countless examples of concept art, sketches and designs from their entire 30 film output to date, in a lavish coffee table book deserving of any animation fan’s collection.
My opinions on the trend in CGI animated films is already well documented. It’s true that I usually find them stale and lifeless in comparison to their hand-drawn counterpart, and fosters more interest for me in these types of ‘Art of’ books. The rough drawings and productions designs throughout are beautiful and exude a life and energy that just doesn’t seem to translate to CGI. The benefits of CGI are unmistakable from a production point of view, but I love that books like this exist to give viewers a taste how these films looked in the original artists imaginations. It’s fair to say that they were not always critical hits, but there’s always that germ of an idea, a pure creative spark revealed in this book, that from an artists perspective is essential. Highly recommend.