View Full Version : The amazing animation software behind 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' (Premo)

06-13-2014, 08:42 AM
A bud of mine at Dreamworks swears by this program.

"Throughout the studio’s history, it’s relied on a custom piece of animation software named Emo. Originally developed in the 1980s by Pacific Data Images, Emo was designed to animate primitive graphics and text, but evolved into the kind of tool that could bring Princess Fiona and Puss in Boots to life. Despite several major overhauls, however, it had begun to show its age. Animators would have to work with rough geometric approximations of creatures rather than fully-realized models, or turn off different body parts altogether to get the software to run at an acceptable speed. Then there was rendering, which would tie up the workstation completely.

Like a lagging version of Photoshop, Emo simply wasn’t using modern hardware to its full potential. So five years ago, the studio met with its hardware partners HP and Intel to get a sense of where their respective products would be going in the years ahead. Realizing that a simple update wasn't going to get the job done, DreamWorks decided to rebuild its entire suite of production software from the ground up.

DreamWorks CTO Lincoln Wallen went to the company’s artists, asking them to daydream what kind of tools they would like to use in a perfect world. "I recall it very well," Simon Otto, head of character animation for Dragon 2, tells me in a suite at the studio’s Glendale headquarters. "One of the first things was, "[What] if you just forget everything you’re doing today?" People with backgrounds in all different types of animation were consulted — from 2D animation, to stop-motion, to video games — in an effort to create a software solution that could bring together the best of all possible worlds. "We created a big list of why certain mediums have advantages over others," he says. That list provided big-picture guidance for the software team as it began building and iterating on a new animation tool for DreamWorks — and the end result is named Premo."


06-13-2014, 12:35 PM
5 years - wow. We can't even get a Modeler that handles more than 100 polygons in 10yrs time. :)

06-13-2014, 04:30 PM
so...they switched to using poser and bryce...nice move :)

06-13-2014, 08:26 PM
Hey guys, if you feel like getting way more technical than I can understand,
here's a whitepaper discussing how they developed a multithreaded dependency graph architecture for character animation, allowing for realtime interaction and playback of the characters.

More links:

06-15-2014, 03:35 AM
It only makes me jelous and greedy.

06-16-2014, 10:53 AM
My wife and I went to watch HtTYD2, and the first thing I noticed was how much the animation had improved compared to the first version - I knew about the new software, and I feel it made a dramatic impact on the overall quality. The second thing I noticed was the increased complexity of the textures and models. Definitely a larger budget at work too.

Great film, btw. Really enjoyed it!

06-16-2014, 12:59 PM
I want to know what-all workflows they grabbed from the different disciplines.

06-17-2014, 11:23 AM
I have friends at the studio, I can ask them some SPECIFIC questions (no promises if they will answer)

06-24-2014, 10:42 AM
DreamWorks’ new tools for Dragon 2
DreamWorks Animation’s newest film How To Train Your Dragon 2 was also the first to use its re-vamped set of animation and lighting toolset – dubbed Apollo. We find out from visual effects supervisor Dave Walvoord how the tools became part of the studio’s pipeline, plus how the team worked with cinematographer Roger Deakins in crafting Dragon 2’s look.