Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated fantasy film loosely based on William Steig's 1990 fairy tale picture book of the same name and directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson in their directorial debut. It stars the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow, and somewhat serves as a parody of other films adapted from numerous children's fantasies, mainly animated Disney films. The film focuses on an ogre named Shrek (voiced by Myers), who finds his swamp overrun by fairy tale creatures who have been banished there by order of the evil Lord Farquaad (voiced by Lithgow). In order to get his swamp back, Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad to bring him a queen in exchange for the deed for his swamp. Shrek sets out with a talking Donkey (voiced by Murphy) and they find Princess Fiona (voiced by Diaz). While they take Fiona to Farquaad so she can marry him, Shrek starts to fall in love with the princess and soon discovers a shocking secret about her.
The rights to Steig's book were originally bought by Steven Spielberg in 1991, before the founding of DreamWorks, when he thought about making a traditionally animated film based on the book. However, John H. Williams convinced him to bring the film to DreamWorks in 1994, the time the studio was founded, and the film was put quickly into active development by Jeffrey Katzenberg after the rights were bought by the studio in 1995. Chris Farley was originally cast as the voice for the title character, recording about 80%–90% of his dialogue. After Farley died in 1997 before he could finish, Mike Myers was brought in to work for the character, who, after his first recording, decided to record his voice in a Scottish accent. The film was also originally planned to be motion-captured, but after poor results, the studio decided to recruit Pacific Data Images to help Shrek get its final computer-animated look.
Shrek was originally set up to be a live-action/CG animation hybrid with background plate miniature sets and the main characters composited into the scene as motion-captured computer graphics, using an ExpertVision Hires Falcon 10 camera system to capture and apply realistic human movement to the characters. A sizable crew was hired to run a test, and after a year and a half of R & D, the test was finally screened in May 1997. The results were not satisfactory, with Katzenberg stating "It looked terrible, it didn't work, it wasn't funny, and we didn't like it. The studio then turned to its production partners at Pacific Data Images (PDI), who began production with the studio in 1997 and helped Shrek get to its final, computer-animated look. At this time, Antz was still in production by the studio and Effects Supervisor Ken Bielenberg was asked by Aron Warner "to start development for Shrek." Similar to previous PDI films, PDI used its own proprietary software (like its own Fluid Animation System) for its animated movies. For some elements, however, it also took advantage of some of the powerhouse animation software in the market. This is particularly true with Maya, which PDI used for most of its dynamic cloth animation and for the hair of Fiona and Farquaad.
"We did a lot of work on character and set-up, and then kept changing the set up while we were doing the animation," Hui noted. "In Antz, we had a facial system that gave us all the facial muscles under the skin. In Shrek, we applied that to whole body. So, if you pay attention to Shrek when he talks, you see that when he opens his jaw, he forms a double chin, because we have the fat and the muscles underneath. That kind of detail took us a long time to get right." One of the most difficult parts of creating the film was making Donkey's fur flow smoothly so that it didn't look like that of a Chia Pet. This fell into the hands of the surfacing animators who used flow controls within a complex shader to provide the fur with many attributes (ability to change directions, lie flat, swirl, etc.). It was then the job of the visual effects group, led by Ken Bielenberg, to make the fur react to environment conditions. Once the technology was mastered, it was able to be applied to many aspects of the Shrek movie including grass, moss, beards, eyebrows, and even threads on Shrek's tunic. Making human hair realistic was different from Donkey's fur, requiring a separate rendering system and a lot of attention from the lighting and visual effects teams.
Shrek has 31 sequences, with 1,288 shots in every sequence total. Aron Warner said that the creators "envisioned a magical environment that you could immerse yourself into." Shrek includes 36 separate in-film locations to make the world of the film, which DreamWorks claimed was more than any previous computer-animated feature before. In-film locations were finalized and as demonstrated by past DreamWorks animated movies, color and mood was of the utmost importance.
- Main article: Shrek: Music from the Original Motion Picture
Shrek is the third DreamWorks animated film (and the only film in the Shrek series) to have Harry Gregson-Williams team up with John Powell to compose the score (after Antz (1998) and Chicken Run (2000)). John Powell was left out to compose scores for later Shrek films with Williams due to a conflict. The score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by Nick Wollage and Slamm Andrews, with the latter mixing it at Media Ventures and Patricia Sullivan-Fourstar handling mastering.
Shrek introduced a new element to give the film a unique feel. The film used pop music and other Oldies to make the story more forward. Covers of songs like "On the Road Again" and "Try a Little Tenderness" were integrated in the film's score. As the film was about to be completed, Katzenberg suggested to the filmmakers to redo the film's ending to "go out with a big laugh"; Instead of ending film with just a storybook closing over Shrek and Fiona as they ride off into the sunset, they decided to add a song "I'm a Believer" covered by Smash Mouth and show all the fairytale creatures in the film.
Although Rufus Wainwright's version of the song "Hallelujah" appeared in the soundtrack album, it was John Cale's version that appeared in the film; in a radio interview, Rufus Wainwright suggested that his version of "Hallelujah" did not appear in the film due to the "glass ceiling" he was hitting because of his sexuality. An alternative explanation is that, although the filmmakers wanted Cale's version for the film, licensing issues prevented its use in the soundtrack album, because Wainwright was an artist for DreamWorks but Cale was not.