With franchises like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar to its name, DreamWorks Animation has spent the last 20 years building an animation mini-empire. The studio’s movies have pulled in over $11.5 billion in global box office, and, despite some recent underperformers, it’s continued to diversify with pushes into TV, apps, and online initiatives. This weekend the studio is heading back to movie theaters with the release of How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Written and directed by Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch, the original How To Train Your Dragon) the movie is one of DreamWorks’ most visually stunning films to date. Dragons swarm in epic battle sequences; humans gracefully race, flip, and fly; and key dramatic moments are powered solely by the visual nuance of a computer-generated character’s performance. It’s a leap in terms of both spectacle and emotion, and at the heart of it was a new version of the studio’s flagship animation software — one that’s letting DreamWorks animators do more than they ever could before.