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Batman Returns

For Batman Returns, Matte World Digital created miniatures and matte paintings that established the opening Cobblepot Mansion sequence, the Batcave, and stately Wayne Mannor. MWD also created all shots of Gotham City that featured the Bat Signal.

A long tracking shot begins toward moody Cobblepot mansion, the birthplace of the penguin. The camera continues past the gate, toward the window where a silhouetted Cobblepot peers through the window.

Motion control man Cameron Noble makes adjustments to the photo etched wrought iron gate.

The illusion of distance was achieved by photographing the gate and the mansion models on seperate but overlapping motion control tracks, giving the impression that the model was a lot further away. Both the gate and mansion models were placed on their sides so that the camera could easily fly over the gate. The Cobblepot figure was rear projected through the window. Several falling snow elements were also added as the camera moved in.

In the manor garden a bat mirror relay was programmed to capture the batsignal beam and redirect it into the library where Bruce Wayne awaits the call for help.

The bat reflector redirects the batsignal as seen in the film. Motion-control cameraman, Joel Hladecek, and camera assistant, Drummond Stone, program the reflector on the forced perspective set.

Batman Returns ends with a signature crane-up through the verticle levels of Gotham city to reveal the batsignal triumphantly emblazened on a cloud. To create the shot, Matte World Digital crafted a multi-plane miniature set up that was filmed horizontally along a forty-foot motion control track. The final crane-up would be a complex layering of live-action, model buildings and painting elements.

Bruce Wayne's Rolls Royce driving down a Gotham City street, is photographed at the Warner Brothers backlot.


The Rolls Royce is reduced in size and composited with an eighth-scale miniature alley foreground complete with steam pipes and falling snow.


The multi-plane shot continues with more mid-ground pipes and tresses.

The camera stops rising to reveal distant seventy-second scale buildings and a matte painting of the city background with moving clouds.

The bat Signal is activated in the night sky. The effect was achieved by projecting artwork against moving fiberfill clouds.

Film Credits

Film Credits