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I’ve been wanting to bring the kids to the DreamsWorks Animation and The Deep exhibitions at the Art Science Museum for a long time. We tried during the National Day weekend when the entrance fee was waived, but the queue was so ridiculous there was really no point. I had to humbly concede my husband was right (he was against the idea of going down during the busy weekend, but let me try anyway).

Hubby had said he wanted to go for the exibitions, so we waited for him for more than a month. But since the DreamWorks exhibition is ending on Sunday, and since he’s gone on holiday with the friends without us, we decided to go without him! Wahaha!

If you haven’t gone for the exhibition, go!

I have two good reasons for you. First, both exhibitions are so interesting and one ends this Sunday! Second, it’s a great place to hide from the haze!

Penguins from the show Madagascar

Penguins from the show Madagascar

The day we went, the PSI soared above 300. We were happily oblivious to it all since we were wandering about below the concrete lotus.

It makes sense to go for both exhibitions because the price for the DreamWorks exhibition alone is $15 (for local adults) and $10 (for local kids), while the price for both DreamWorks and The Deep is $19.50 and $13.50 respectively. If you, like us, were already planning to catch both exhibitions, this is a good deal provided you have the time to spare. It even comes with a free beverage coupon per ticket, and free tickets to the Singapore Stories exhibition.

Staring in awe at a life-sized model of Toothless

Staring in awe at a life-sized model of Toothless

When I told the boys where we were going that day, they were so excited. Catching a glimpse of Toothless from the foyer above made them literally jump for joy, and they couldn’t wait to go see the model.

By the time we got the tickets it was about 10.30am. The kids usually get hungry between 11 to 11.30am. Knowing we usually take a very long time to get through exhibitions, and having two exhibitions on the same day, I decided that even though the crowd was building up, we should go get some food to fuel the kids. That way, when people headed off for lunch, we could continue to enjoy the place. That’s probably the best tip I can give any parent handling the kids on their own while on an outing there. Bring enough food along. Sometimes it’s worth the detour and delay.

We got sandwiches, bread and bananas from Cold Storage at the basement of MBS, then went back into the museum. True enough, just as we were going to go into the exhibition, Ellery said he was hungry. Score! I felt so pleased with myself.

The Art Science Museum has these lovely big benches outside the exhibition spaces, and it’s perfect as a rest stop. Ellery ate his sandwich, Asher ate a banana, and as I was getting hungry too, I ate my sandwich as well, sharing some with Alyssa. Hungry kids are not happy kids. And happy kids make a happy mummy. So it was time well spent!

Finally all fuelled up and ready to go, we jumped into the DreamWorks Animation exhibition. We have only watched a few DreamWorks cartoons, but the ones we have watched, we love. In particular, the boys are gaga over How to Train Your Dragon. Recently I found a book called How to Train Your Dragon: Incomplete Book of Dragons by Cressida Cowell, the creator of the How to Train Your Dragon Series that served as the inspiration for the movie. The boys have been talking about all kinds different types dragons mentioned in the book and which ones they want as pets. It’s times like those that make me very glad they both enjoy reading, so they can keep up with each other and have someone to talk to about the craze of the moment. They’ve long gone past the stage where I can keep up with their books, so I’m glad they have each other.

The exhibition brings you through the broad stages of creating an animated film. From imagining the character and his traits, developing the world the character lives in and where the story takes place, to story boarding and the animation itself. It was fascinating to see what some famous characters, like Shrek, looked like in the initial stages of development.

The Shrek & Donkey we are familiar with

The Shrek & Donkey we are familiar with. Come to think of it, it would probably have been more interesting to have taken a picture of an early-stage Shrek. Didn’t think of it while I was there – you’ll just have to go see it yourself!

It was also interesting to learn that the main characters from Madagascar were created based on a different shapes.

Shapes and characters

Shapes and characters

I liked how there were videos of the creators talking about the films and their development. For How to Train Your Dragon, they adapted the story to make it more suited to a cinematic experience. They created greater tension between the villagers of Berk and the dragons by starting the movie on the context of a war between the humans and the evil dragons. In the original story, everyone has a pet dragon. I liked that the boys understood how the movies may not follow the book exactly, and later on in the car, they were telling me what they liked more from the show and what they liked from the book.

Comparing the number of story boards needed for each film

Comparing the number of story boards needed for each film

I was so excited to see the actual set/prop used for Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit. I love Wallace and Gromit!

Cheeese! *waves hands in air*

Gromit

Gromit among the veggies

There were props and scale models of the sets used in the various films, and I loved looking at how detailed everything was.

Isle of Berk

Isle of Berk

Right down to the little sheep you see appear in the show

Right down to the little sheep you see appear in the show

Far Far Away

Far Far Away

The best thing about the DreamWorks Animation exhibition is that it’s very interactive. The boys enjoyed manipulating the facial features of the Hiccup, and controlling the background lighting for The Croods. Its fascinating to see all the parameters you can choose to control the characters face. Even different parts of the eyebrow were controlled with a different set of parameters. It then dawns upon you just how much time and effort is needed to make the films that we watch. All the expressions, every single one of those quick moments was created painstakingly by someone in the studio. Much less painstaking than it must have been way back when animation first began, but with technology they take everything further and even control things like how much light from fireworks you want reflecting off the character’s skin!

Manipulating facial features

Manipulating facial features

The kids loved the ‘ride’ on Toothless’ back, and it was Ellery’s favourite activity. Sitting in front of a very wide, curved screen, you can imagine sitting on Toothless and flying over Berk. Make sure you sit nearer the screen so that the two ends of the screen are beyond your field of vision. That really helps to immerse you in the experience. Each film was only 3 minutes, and we watched it several times until the kids were satisfied :)

Riding on Toothless!

Riding on Toothless!

Asher’s favourite bit was having a go at animation. There was a room with 5 to 6 animation stations set up. You could create your very own animation from any drawing you wanted. Asher created an animation of toothless bending and flying over another giant dragon, nearly getting eaten in the process. Ellery’s animation showed dragon #1 (there was a name but it was so long I don’t remember ;) ) happily frothing up the sea water when suddenly another dragon (with a name that I also don’t remember) leapt up to eat it.

This was where our eat-before-the-exhibition tactic worked to our advantage. We got to the animation room around noon when most of the crowd had left. The boys still had to wait while others finished up their animation, but there weren’t that many people. When they got their turn they could draw more and create more images to make a longer animation sequence. Later as more and more people came, and with the stares and frowns from hovering parents, everyone had to have a shorter turn.

SONY DSC

Using the animation station

Ellery

Ellery’s dragon

We popped in to ‘ride’ on Toothless one more time before heading out to the common corridor for a quick lunch break before going to The Deep.

Toothless browsing some books

Toothless browsing some books

Lunch!

A quick lunch

Read more on our experience at The Deep soon!

 

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