The kids of St Joseph's Primary in Wee Waa, in north-west NSW, really lucked out on their school trip to Canberra when they got to meet Shrek, Alex the Lion and Po the Panda at DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition - Journey from Sketch to Screen at the National Museum on Wednesday.
Their 11-hour bus trip from the cotton-farming town on the banks of the Namoi River to the national capital all seemed worth it after they became the first children to view the exhibition which pays homage to a generation's favourite movie franchises, including Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Wallace and Gromit and Trolls.
Wee Waa student Imogen Thorne, 11, liked The Croods, about a prehistoric family, the best. And gave the exhibition a thumbs up: "It's an area where kids can come and see all the creations and how people do their work, she said.
The exhibition, which opens on Thursday and continues until February 2, includes character models, development sketches and early concept multimedia revealing how some of the world's favourite films were conceived and developed.
DreamWorks Animation supervising animator Marek Kochout was at the preview and tantalising refused to say whether another Shrek or Madagascar film would ever be made.
"There could be. I don't know if I'm allowed to say," he said with a laugh. "There are always things in the works and I don't anything is greenlit."
Mr Kouchout worked on films including How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek 2 and Shrek Forever After, the latter in which he can be forever thanked for creating the scene where the previously dashing Puss in Boots got fat. "It wasn't my idea, but I got to animate it," he said, of the hilarious sequence.
Mr Kouchout said the success of the DreamWorks films was their universal appeal, with much of the humour appealing to adults as well as children.
"A good story is a good story, it's not dependent on your age," he said.
Mr Kouchout said his favourite character was from Kung Fu Panda. "I love Po," he said. "I love his character. Everything is fun, everything is a wonder. And I think that childlike quality is really nice."
And Mr Kouchout enjoyed the exhibition.
"Even I don't get to see every part of the process. Bringing it all together here is amazing. I think it's really inspiring," he said.
"It shows there is more than one job - there are artists, there are storyboard people, there are writers, there are animators, there are effects people. There's a lot of careers you could pursue and this exhibit shows a lot of that."
Mr Kouchout said even working on huge films, he felt more than a cog in the wheel.
"It's really collaborative," he said.
"There's the story, there's the idea but when you get to work, especially animating on these shots, there's a lot you can add. Your personality, there's a lot you get to contribute."
National Museum curator Kate Morschel said the exhibition was first staged in 2014 as a collaboration between DreamWorks Animation in the United States and Australian Centre for Moving Image in Melbourne.
"They worked together over quite some time to select the works from the archives and really distil that story of the film-making process from DreamWorks' perspective," she said.
Ms Morschel said her role "interpreting and massaging the content for display here".
"It has been a tremendous privilege," she said, of helping to bring the exhibition to life in Canberra.
"I'm a huge DreamWorks fan and very passionate about animation so it's been lovely to connect with these objects and have an excuse to watch all these wonderful films again."
- DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition - Journey from Sketch to Screen is on show at the National Museum of Australia from September 12 to February 2. Admission fees apply.