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Alice in Wonderland

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Tim Burton's remake of Alice in Wonderland takes place in 19th-century England. The fantastic Wonderland section of the film is bookended by realistic scenes of London and the English countryside. For the 3D stereoscopic release, we rendered left- and right-eye cameras. This added a layer of complexity to our pipeline, but it also created an exciting new dimension to our work!


The film opens with a shot of the moon backlighting low clouds. For just a moment as the clouds drift past, they create a silhouette of the Cheshire cat.

Place your mouse over this image to see "before and after" versions of the shot:


The camera moves backwards, revealing the London Skyline, the Thames River, and Big Ben clock tower.

Key landmarks were placed as the camera move was developed, such as the House of Parliment, Thames, and (in the distance) St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge. The remainder of the city was generated from a library of textured building models scattered by a particle algorithm which respected a basic urban grid and allowed for some hand tweaking. Because of the extreme camera move and to allow stereo rendering for the 3D release, the vast majority of the city is rendered as 3D objects. Only the sky and most distant skyline are 2D matte paintings.



Asylum VFX added titles and fog to the shot.



When the camera comes to rest, we see the silhouette of Alice's father pacing in a third-story window. The actor paced on a green-screen and was composited into the scene using 3D compositing tools.

The townhouse is photo-modelled from a building in southern England, with modified windows and a projected matte painting for surface details. The interior rooms have very simple models and projected textures to allow for parallax as the camera cranes down. They also contain the correct depth when viewed in a 3D theater.


Place your mouse over this image to see "before and after" versions of the shot:


The last sequence  of the film shows a sailing ship preparing to go to sea.  The scene was shot in Cornwall, England, at a shipping museum. Matte paintings replace the wharf for a more open view. The ocean is a combination of CGI water and ocean elements shot on HD video in San Francisco.

To blend the ships and their intricate rigging with the matte-painted backgrounds, the ships were mostly replaced with simplified 3D models and painted masts and ropes. In composite, some of the rigging, flags, and climbing sailors from the original photography were retained to add movement. CGI sea birds were animated to fly through the sky, and 2D-animated ships sail on the horizon.

The final touch was adding the name "Wonder" to the stern of the ship.

Film Credits

Film Credits