Shrek Product Launch

Tuesday 9th October 2001

Thank Yous

    Special thanks go to Cheryl Glenn from Dreamworks for her enthusiastic presentation at the end of what was undoubtedly a long and tiring day for her, Michael Snow from Universal Pictures Home Video, Cathy Gallagher from Tracy Mair Publicity for a great job of organizing so much so quickly, and to all of my reviewers who were able to make themselves available at short notice for this event.


    Shrek was phenomenally successful at the Australian box office, being the highest grossing animation in Australian theatrical history. Understandably, Dreamworks and Universal are excited about the imminent release of Shrek on DVD (and VHS), and graciously extended an invitation to us to attend the launch of the DVD and get a sneak preview of what we can expect when the DVD is released on 7th November at a SRP of $39.95.

    We were delighted to accept their invitation, and even more delighted when they accommodated ALL of our team that wanted to attend, even to the extent of holding an additional preview session just for us. Accordingly, myself, Murray G, Anthony K, Dean M, Gavin W, Terry M and Shane L assembled in the Universal Pictures Home Video boardroom for a taste of something very special, something that may well be this year's biggest selling DVD.

    From the highly amusing menu animation to the direct-from-the-digital-source-files transfer to the innovative extras, Shrek promises to be one of the most entertaining and high quality DVDs ever released. We can hardly wait to get a preview copy in our hot little hands. Nonetheless, whilst we are impatiently waiting, we can at least give you a taste of what to expect.

    The task of reporting in detail on what we saw and heard has been ably handled by Murray G and Anthony K. And now, without further ado, here's what they have to say about the DVD release of Shrek.

Murray's Report | Anthony's Report

Murray's Report

    November 7, 2001 marks the release date for the retail DVD (and VHS tape) of the animated feature film "Shrek". Produced by Dreamworks, it is being distributed by Universal Pictures Home Video. As part of the considerable marketing effort that is being put into promoting the release, Universal very kindly invited seven members of Michael D's team of reviewers to its Sydney offices for over an hour for a sneak preview of the DVD. Unfortunately, that's all anyone's been able to see for now, since we were told that the disc we sampled is the only one in the country at the moment.

    Shrek premiered in theatres worldwide earlier this year. Cheryl Glenn, Dreamworks' Head of Publicity Worldwide very proudly announced that the film has achieved the No. 1 position at Australian box offices for 2001 to date, grossing $31 million here, while pulling in $470 million US dollars worldwide.. We were told that this makes it the seventh top grossing film ever in this country, and the biggest animated film ever in Australia. These facts have shaped the expectations and marketing plans of Universal, who believe this will be the biggest DVD launch ever (although no-one mentioned the imminent release of a certain DVD from Mr. Lucas), eclipsing the previous biggest DVD success story in Gladiator.

    The afternoon began with Cheryl giving us a quick run-through of the story of Shrek. Then, it was straight into the DVD where we were shown the gorgeously animated and themed disc menus, a sample scene from the film and most of the extras on the single disc set, including the newly-created Swamp Karaoke Dance Party, "Meet The Press" Character Interviews and some of the interactive games (playable on standalone DVD players). A pioneering extra that we had some fun with is a piece of DVD-ROM software called Shrek ReVoice Studio that allows the user to re-dub the lines from 12 of the film's scenes. In fact, all of the material on the disc seems to be a huge amount of fun and has obviously had a lot of thought put into it. This really is what is giving Universal such high hopes of actually expanding the reach of DVD into the broader family market by appealing to both adults and children.

    There was a short amount of time after the presentation for questions. One that raised particular interest was Dreamworks' commitment to DTS in non-Region 1. Cheryl Glenn confirmed that Dreamworks was a supporter of DTS. This disc misses out on it in this case because of the desire to keep the packaging down to a single disc as well as controlling the price. No firm comment was made regarding the future of DTS on Dreamworks releases outside of Region 1. It also seems that Shrek doesn't come with embedded pan and scan encoding, unlike many other Dreamworks discs. Of course, you'll be able to read a full review of this highly anticipated disc on our site as soon as we get it into our hot little hands.

    I'd like to thank Cheryl Glenn and the staff at Universal Pictures, Sydney, on behalf of all of Michael D's reviewers who attended today's session.

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
9th October 2001

Murray's Report | Anthony's Report

Anthony's Report

    A number of my fellow reviewers and I recently had the opportunity to attend a short presentation by representatives from Universal and Dreamworks examining the upcoming retail release for this year's biggest hit, Shrek. This movie will be available on the 7th of November on both VHS and DVD. The DVD release contains a number of unique extras, and we had the opportunity to examine some of these features during this presentation.

    One of the major extras on this disc is the inclusion of fifteen additional minutes of animation, including a Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party sequence lasting approximately three minutes. This sequence features all the main characters from the movie performing short karaoke pieces.

    The local release will include English, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks and English, 
Spanish and Portuguese subtitle options. Interestingly the disc includes each of these subtitle choices for most extras including 
the director's commentary.

    The pure digital video transfer has been created directly from the computer-based source material (a la A Bug's Life) and consequently will not contain any film-based artefacts. As is always the case at these sorts of presentations, we were not able to assess the true quality of the short segments we were shown but I would obviously expect this transfer to be of very high quality - more on that anon.

    A unique extra that we were able to see a short demonstration of is the DVD-ROM based Shrek's ReVoice Studio. This is a Windows-based program that allows people to record their own voice and have this sync to a choice of 12 scenes from the 
movie. When using this program, the user first selects the scene that they wish to work with. Once this is selected, the user can 
record their own voice in time with the karaoke-like presented dialogue. When the user has finished recording the dialogue, the scene can be played back and the animation and dialogue will be synchronized. This was a surprisingly entertaining feature that most people will want to quickly play with and children will love.

    We were also able to quickly examine the three interactive games also included on this disc. These are an Interactive Trivia Game, Interactive Character Morph and Decorate the Gingerbread Man.

    The Interactive Character Morph section allows the user to select a head, torso and legs from four different characters and view the combined result. This is a combination of very basic two dimensional character graphics and while the quality is disappointing it should be enjoyed by children.

    The Decorate The Gingerbread Man section allows the viewer to view a number of different completed gingerbread man designs.

    Meet the Press Character Interviews are a short series of "interviews" with the animated cast members discussing their work on the film. Apparently, Shrek did all his own stunts but Donkey used a double for most of his action scenes...

    When compared to the planned Region 1 release of this disc, the local edition will be missing two main extras; a dts track and a 1.33:1 version of the film. The reason that these were excluded from international releases was for disc space restrictions and the desire to release a single disc package allowing a lower price point. Despite these exclusions, I feel that Universal will have a massive hit with this disc and the excellent choice of extras complement the highly enjoyable film.

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
9th October, 2001.

Murray's Report | Anthony's Report