Shrek DVD - The Whole Story cover art
Shrek Blu-ray - The Whole Story cover art © 2010 Paramount Pictures

Shrek: The Whole Story Blu-ray box set is out just in time for Christmas.

On November 16th I had the pleasure of visiting the campus of DreamWorks in Glendale, California, for the launch of the Blu-ray DVDs of  Shrek: The Whole Story which is being released on December 7th, just in time for Christmas. The box set includes all four Shrek movies, plus the limited-edition of the holiday DVD, Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular

So the wait is finally ogre (thanks DreamWorks for that play-on-words!) as the studio puts the complete story together featuring extras on all your favorite characters, Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and my personal favorite, Puss In Boots.

The day started with a tour of the studio, a quick lesson on how an animated movie is developed from beginning to end and a session with directors Walt Dohrn (who was the Head of Story on Shrek Forever After plus playing the evil Rumpelstiltskin) and Conrad Vernon (who directed Shrek 2 and who voiced the Gingerbread Man in all the films), in a recording booth where I got the chance to voiced Fiona and my fellow journalist Parimal Rohit played Shrek.

Shrek the Third - Voices of Cameron Diaz, Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Cheri Oteri
Shrek the Third - Princess Fiona (center, voice of Cameron Diaz) is joined by obsessive-compulsive Cinderella (voice of Amy Sedaris), prissy-but-sarcastic Snow White (voice of Amy Poehler), opinionated Rapunzel (voice of Maya Rudolph), and narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty (voice of Cheri Oteri), who prove that they aren't your everyday princesses © 2006 DreamWorks

We were greeted in the Digital Dailies room by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Chief Executive Officer and a Co-Founder and Director of DreamWorks Animation SKG, who told us, “When we started DreamWorks seventeen years ago, probably the greatest ambition that we had for the animation company was to find a different kind of animated film.”

“I spent ten years with the Disney Company,” he continued. ‘I felt very challenged, excited and ultimately rewarded by this incredible legacy and heritage from Walt Disney. But when I left Disney it was very important for me that here at DreamWorks we find our own path. What could be a DreamWorks film that would be our own brand, with our own set of ideas, ideals and values? So we set out on a path here to find that Holy Grail, and all the films along to the way, Prince of Egypt, Antz and Chicken Run, were building blocks and experiments for us to try to find what is a DreamWorks animated film? In 2001, the big green ogre arrived and there was our answer.”

Katzenberg admits that the franchise means more to the studio than just its monetary rewards. “Shrek became our North Star, and it showed us what a DreamWorks animated movie should and could aspire to be. It was distinctive. It was not like anything anybody else does. So I look at this as so much more than a business success, as important as that is. I felt like it really was the film that shined a light and shoed us what we should be aspiring to do in the movies that we make here.”

Shrek the Third - Voiced by Mike Myers
Shrek (Voice of Mike Myers) and bady shreks © 2006 DreamWorks

Kelly Avery, the Worldwide Head of Franchise Strategy and Distribution for the company, told us how important Blu-ray has become to DreamWorks. “We aim to be state-of-the-art, and we really do look at Blu-ray as part of our technical and ultimate creative tool box. We wanted to create something that was really spectacular and something that people had never seen before. In converting Shrek and Shrek 2 to Blu-ray they collected all the original digital elements and reassembled them. There’s a tremendous amount of complexity with our films that they look spectacular and superior on Blu-ray, so it’s a great technology for us to use.”

Avery introduced us to Wendy Rogers, DreamWorks’ VFX Supervisor, who conveyed to us the immense work that that been put into remastering the original DVDs for this new box set. “We had the opportunity to go back in and correct over seven hundred shots for this (Blu-ray version). But above and beyond the digital remaster, the beauty of the Blu-ray is in the clarity of the images. The higher resolution and the less compression of Blu-ray means that we really can see the way that the filmmakers were seeing it when they created the images. So you’re seeing the image that were intended to be seen, but in your home.”

Shrek Blu-ray - The Whole Story Back cover art
The Whole Story Back cover art © 2010 Paramount Pictures

And with that she showed us a couple of sequences, going back and forth between the original DVD and the new Blu-ray, reminding us that, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And she was right, the audio and visuals on the Blu-ray version were stunningly clear.

We also got to preview the upcoming 3D conversion which will be part of the debut of the new 3D television from Samsung. As Katzenberg remarks, “I think when you have a chance to see what these films look like after we have gone through a year and a half of adapting them to 3D, led by our team of artists here at the studio, it will set a pretty high bar and a very high standard of what consumers should expect and anticipate as more and more Hollywood projects make their way into the 3D world.”

So a box set of Shrek: The Whole Story would be great this Christmas – thanks Santa!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.