And The Land Fell Into Darkness…
Alright, so we’ve got the same world but somehow… different. Seems pretty straight forward, right? Not according to Mitchell.
“It was a real challenge when we set out to define the look of the film,” he says. “We really wanted to give this film a different look while at the same time, be true to the world of Shrek.”
Mitchell and co were impressed with designer Peter Zaslav’s creations for the Christmas special Shrek The Halls – in particular the sight of Shrek’s house covered in snow.
“It was familiar, but still very unique,” says Mitchell. “I knew then that we would be able to pull off the alternate reality from a design perspective.”
In order to really make the differences between real Far Far Away and the land it is replaced with in Shrek’s alternate reality, the designers brightened the reality at the beginning of the film – turning it into something of a happy rainbow land in comparison to the last two Shreks.
Then, in the alt world, the film’s colour palette is emboldened with gold, greens and greys – inspired by the shades used in the contract that Shrek signs for Rumpel.
“Gold has become a dominant visual theme associated with Rumpelstiltskin and that actually gets propagated to the entire environment,” says Zaslav.
“We’ve gotten used to the world of Shrek - all the green trees, the green lush grass. In the alternate reality, all that green gives way to more yellows and golds.”
Signalling the darkness of the movie is the upped amount of night-time scenes (thankfully the cast didn’t have to suffer through night shoots, a small blessing).
Most notably, this new Shrek is the first in the series to be shot and released in stereoscopic 3D – a definite boon to the visual side of things.
“3D is an equal partner in everything we do. We don’t look at it as an afterthought,” says Cooper. “We’ve given a lot of careful thought into the staging of our shots - designing them to take advantage of stereo.”
The film’s ambition also extended to its inclusion of various new characters, including bounty hunter the Pied Piper, who lures people using his melodies.
For a sequence in which the ogres are placed under the Pied Piper’s spell and dance madly in response, Mitchell brought in Michael Rooney to choreograph.
Not only that, but 30 dancers were enlisted to shoot a video that the animators could turn to for a reference.
“It’s actually a pretty elaborate and complex sequence,” say Mitchell. “We were lucky enough to get Michael Rooney to come in and actually choreograph the dance sequence for us.”