Annecy: DreamWorks’ Margie Cohn Unveils ‘Dragons: Race to the Edge’

Annecy – “This changes everything,” “How to Train Your Dragon” hero Hiccup (once more voiced by Jay Baruchel) mysteriously announces at the opening credit roll climax of DreamWorks Animation TV’s new series spinoff, “Dragons: Race to the Edge,” as he brandishes an emblazoned metal cylinder with a light-shaft.

He’s referring the cylinder, soon known as the Dragon Eye, but he could have been talking about the migration of “How To’s” smaller screen riff from Cartoon Network to Netflix that exclusively releases the first 13-seg season of “Race” on June 26, as part of its groundbreaking multiyear deal with DreamWorks Animation.

The Netflix impact is clear to see from the get-go of “Race to the Edge,” which had its European premiere Tuesday at Annecy Fest, the world’s biggest animation meet, with DreamWorks Animation head of television Margie Cohn fielding questions at a Q&A, after a screening of
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'How to Train Your Dragon 2': Behind Those Fantastic Flight Sequences

When Dreamworks Animation previewed its first clip for How To Train Your Dragon 2 -- the follow up to its widely praised Oscar nominated film -- viewers found a teenage Hiccup with Toothless the dragon, soaring through the clouds, smiling and clearly still BFFs, in a short but powerful sequence that combines fantastic flight with intimate close-ups of the characters. That was a formula that filmmakers stuck with from the first title in the franchise, according to returning head of layout Gil Zimmerman. "We had to make sure you are balancing the spectacle with intimate connections with the characters in your

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HTTYD2: How to Animate a Dragon

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the first movie animated with newly developed technology called Apollo—and I was able to try it out, firsthand! At the DreamWorks Animation Studios, I became an animator by experimenting with Hiccup's expressions.

Sean Sexton, Animation Supervisor, explains that Apollo allows animators to directly manipulate characters' expressions using a stylus on the computer screen. The state-of-the-art technology pushes the bar in terms of quality and detail, expanding the color palette and range of textures.

"I was wondering, what can't we do at this point?" says writer/director Dean DeBlois, who also directed the first movie. "I think if we can imagine it, we can actually create it now. There doesn't seem to be a boundary anymore. Stuff that used to be budget breaking-ly difficult is now handled with ease. It's a wide open future."

Animating Hiccup was no easy task for me, but
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