Forced perspective

Forced perspective is a technique which employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It manipulates human visual perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the spectator or camera. It has uses in photography, filmmaking and architecture.

Potěmkinovy schody
The Potemkin Stairs in Odessa extend for 142 metres (466 ft), but give the illusion of greater depth since the stairs are wider at the bottom than at the top
Forced perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini
The forced perspective gallery at the Palazzo Spada in Rome by Francesco Borromini, 1632. The 8.6-metre (28 ft) long gallery gives the illusion of being around four times the length.[1]

In filmmaking

An example of forced perspective is a scene in an action/adventure movie in which dinosaurs are threatening the heroes. By placing a miniature model of a dinosaur close to the camera, the dinosaur may be made to look monstrously tall to the viewer, even though it is just closer to the camera.

Forced perspective had been a feature of German silent films and Citizen Kane revived the practice.[2] Movies, especially B-movies in the 1950s and 1960s, were produced on limited budgets and often featured forced perspective shots.

Forced perspective can be made more believable when environmental conditions obscure the difference in perspective. For example, the final scene of the famous movie Casablanca takes place at an airport in the middle of a storm, although the entire scene was shot in a studio. This was accomplished by using a painted backdrop of an aircraft, which was "serviced" by dwarfs standing next to the backdrop. A downpour (created in the studio) draws much of the viewer's attention away from the backdrop and extras, making the simulated perspective less noticeable.

Role of light

Early instances of forced perspective used in low-budget motion pictures showed objects that were clearly different from their surroundings: often blurred or at a different light level. The principal cause of this was geometric. Light from a point source travels in a spherical wave, decreasing in intensity (or illuminance) as the inverse square of the distance travelled. This means that a light source must be four times as bright to produce the same illuminance at an object twice as far away. Thus to create the illusion of a distant object being at the same distance as a near object and scaled accordingly, much more light is required. When shooting with forced perspective, it's important to have the aperture stopped down sufficiently to achieve proper DOF (depth of field), so that the foreground object and background are both sharp. Since miniature models would need to be subjected to far greater lighting than the main focus of the camera, the area of action, it is important to ensure that these can withstand the significant amount of heat generated by the incandescent light sources typically used in film and TV production.

In motion

Peter Jackson's film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings make extended use of forced perspective. Characters apparently standing next to each other would be displaced by several feet in depth from the camera. This, in a still shot, makes some characters appear much smaller (for the dwarves and Hobbits) in relation to others. If the camera's point of view is moved, then parallax would reveal the true relative positions of the characters in space. Even if the camera is just rotated, its point of view may move accidentally if the camera is not rotated about the correct point. This point of view is called the 'zero-parallax-point' (or front nodal point), and is approximated in practice as the centre of the entrance pupil.

An extensively used technique in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was an enhancement of this principle which could be used in moving shots. Portions of sets were mounted on movable platforms which would move precisely according to the movement of the camera, so that the optical illusion would be preserved at all times for the duration of the shot. The same techniques were used in the Harry Potter movies to make the character Hagrid look like a giant. Props around Harry and his friends are of normal size, while seemingly identical props placed around Hagrid are in fact smaller.

Comic effects

Europe 2007 Disk 1 340
Use of forced perspective with the Leaning Tower of Pisa is popular in tourist photography.
Comedic forced perspective example
Forced perspective of giant beer can model shown "perched" on top of a person's hand.

As with many film genres and effects, forced perspective can be used to visual-comedy effect. Typically, when an object or character is portrayed in a scene, its size is defined by its surroundings. A character then interacts with the object or character, in the process showing that the viewer has been fooled and there is forced perspective in use.

The 1930 Laurel and Hardy movie Brats used forced perspective to depict Stan and Ollie simultaneously as adults and as their own sons. An example used for comic effect can be found in the slapstick comedy Top Secret! in a scene which appears to begin as a close-up of a ringing phone with the characters in the distance. However, when the character walks up to the phone (towards the camera) and picks it up, it becomes apparent that the phone is extremely oversized instead of being close to the camera. Another scene in the same movie begins with a close-up of a wristwatch. The next cut shows that the character actually has a gargantuan wristwatch.

The same technique is also used in the Dennis Waterman sketch in the British BBC sketch show Little Britain. In the television version, oversized props are used to make the caricatured Waterman look just three feet tall or less. In The History of the World, Part I, while escaping the French peasants, Mel Brooks' character, Jacques, who is doubling for King Louis, runs down a hall of the palace, which turns into a ramp, showing the smaller forced perspective door at the end. As he backs down into the normal part of the room, he mutters, "Who designed this place?"

One of the recurring The Kids in the Hall sketches featured Mr. Tyzik, "The Headcrusher", who used forced perspective (from his own point of view) to "crush" other people's heads between his fingers. This is also done by the character Sheldon Cooper in the TV show The Big Bang Theory to his friends when they displease him. In the making of Season 5 of Red vs. Blue, the creators used forced perspective to make the character of Tucker's baby, Junior, look small. In the game, the alien character used as Junior is the same height as other characters. The short-lived Internet meme "baby mugging" used forced perspective to make babies look like they were inside items like mugs and teacups.[3]

In architecture

Trier Konstantinbasilika BW 4 zurechtgezurrt
Forced perspective in the Roman Emperor Constantine's Aula Palatina - Trier: The windows and the coffer in the apse are smaller, and the apsis has a raised floor.
Trier Konstantinbasilika BW 2 zurechtgezurrt
From the outside, the true size of the apsis windows is apparent.

In architecture, a structure can be made to seem larger, taller, farther away or otherwise by adjusting the scale of objects in relation to the spectator, increasing or decreasing perceived depth. When forced perspective is used to make an object appear farther away, the following method can be used: By constantly decreasing the scale of objects from expectancy and convention toward the farthest point from the spectator, an illusion is created that the scale of said objects is decreasing due to their distant location. In contrast, the opposite technique was sometimes used in classical garden designs and other "follies" to shorten the perceived distances of points of interest along a path.

The Statue of Liberty is built with a slight forced perspective so that it appears more correctly proportioned when viewed from its base. When the statue was designed in the late 19th century (before easy air flight), there were few other angles from which to view the statue. This caused a difficulty for special effects technicians working on the movie Ghostbusters II, who had to back off on the amount of forced perspective used when replicating the statue for the movie so that their model (which was photographed head-on) would not look top-heavy.[4] This effect can also be seen in Michelangelo's statue of David.


Illusion of a large space at the apse of Santa Maria presso San Satiro in Milan, Italy


Real space just around one meter deep

Pézenas porte biaise

A forced perspective doorway in Pézenas, France.

Through depth perception

The technique takes advantage of the visual cues humans use to perceive depth such as angular size, aerial perspective, shading, and relative size. In film, photography and art, perceived object distance is manipulated by altering fundamental monocular cues used to discern the depth of an object in the scene such as aerial perspective, blurring, relative size and lighting. Using these monocular cues in concert with angular size, the eyes can perceive the distance of an object. Artists are able to freely move the visual plane of objects by obscuring these cues to their advantage.

Increasing the object's distance from the audience makes an object appear smaller, its apparent size decreases as distance from the audience increases. This phenomenon is that of the manipulation of angular and apparent size.

A person perceives the size of an object based on the size of the object's image on the retina. This depends solely on the angle created by the rays coming from the topmost and bottommost part of the object that pass through the center of the lens of the eye. The larger the angle an object subtends, the larger the apparent size of the object. The subtended angle increases as the object moves closer to the lens. Two objects with different actual size have the same apparent size when they subtend the same angle. Similarly, two objects of the same actual size can have drastically varying apparent size when they are moved to different distances from the lens.[5]

Calculating angular size

Angular Size
Angular size, distance and object size.

The formula for calculating angular size is as follows:

in which θ is the subtended angle, h is the actual size of the object and D is the distance from the lens to the object.[6]

Techniques employed

  • Solely manipulating angular size by moving objects closer and farther away cannot fully trick the eye. Objects that are farther away from the eye have a lower luminescent contrast due to atmospheric scattering of rays. Fewer rays of light reach the eye from more distant objects. Using the monocular cue of aerial perspective, the eye uses the relative luminescence of objects in a scene to discern relative distance. Filmmakers and photographers combat this cue by manually increasing the luminescence of objects father away to equal that of objects in the desired plane. This effect is achieved by making the more distant object more bright by shining more light on it. Because it is known that luminance decreases by ½d (d is distance from the eye), artists can calculate the exact amount of light needed to counter the cue of aerial perspective.[7]
  • Similarly, blurring can create the opposite effect by giving the impression of depth. Selectively blurring an object moves it out of its original visual plane without having to manually move the object.[8]
  • A perceptive illusion that may be infused in film culture is the idea of Gestalt psychology, which holds that people often view the whole of an object as opposed to the sum of its individual parts.[9]
  • Another monocular cue of depth perception is that of lighting and shading. Artists also use lighting to establish shadows. Shading in a scene or on an object allows the audience to locate the light source relative to the object. Making two objects at different distances have the same shading gives the impression that they are in similar positions relative to the light source, and therefore, they are apparently much closer than they are in actuality.[10]
  • A simpler technique employed by artists is that of manipulating relative size. Once the audience becomes acquainted with the size of an object in proportion to the rest of the objects in a scene, a photographer or filmmaker can replace the object with a larger or smaller replica to change another part of the scene's apparent size. This is done frequently in movies. For example, to aid in the appearance of a person as a giant next to a "regular sized" person, a filmmaker might have a shot of two identical glasses together, then follow with the person who is supposed to play the giant holding a much smaller replica of the glass and the person who is playing the regular-sized person holding a much larger replica. Because the audience has seen that the glasses are the same size in the original shot, the difference in relation to the two characters allows the audience to perceive the characters as different sizes based on their relative size to the glasses they are holding.[11]
  • A monocular cue easily taken advantage of by painters is the trend for the color of objects in the distance to be shifted more towards the blue end of the spectrum, while closer objects' colors are shifted toward the red end of the spectrum. A painter can give the illusion of distance by adding blue or red tinting to the color of the object he is painting.[11] The optical phenomenon is known as chromostereopsis.


In film

Forced perspective has been employed to create dwarfs and giants in film, such as Hagrid, the half-giant in the Harry Potter series, and hobbits in the Lord of the Rings series.

In reality, there is only a 5-inch height difference between Elijah Wood, 5′6″, and Ian McKellen, 5′11″, the actors playing Frodo and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings films; however, the use of camera angles and trick scenery and props creates the illusion of a much greater difference in size and height.

Numerous camera angle tricks are also played in the movie Elf to make elf characters in the movie appear smaller than human characters.

In art

Cézanne, Paul - Still Life with a Curtain
Still life with a curtain

In his painting entitled Still life with a curtain, Paul Cézanne creates the illusion of depth by using brighter colors on objects closer to the viewer and dimmer colors and shading to distance the "light source" from objects that he wanted to appear farther away. His shading technique allows the audience to discern the distance between objects due to their relative distances from a stationary light source that illuminates the scene. Furthermore, he uses a blue tint on objects that should be farther away and redder tint to objects in the foreground.

Full size dioramas

DSC01677 Diorama isole Lofoten - Museo di storia naturale, Milano - Foto di G. Dall'Orto - 20-12-2006
A diorama in the Museum of Natural History in Milan (Italy).

Modern museum dioramas may be seen in most major natural history museums. Typically, these displays use a tilted plane to represent what would otherwise be a level surface, incorporate a painted background of distant objects, and often employ false perspective, carefully modifying the scale of objects placed on the plane to reinforce the illusion through depth perception in which objects of identical real-world size placed farther from the observer appear smaller than those closer. Often the distant painted background or sky will be painted upon a continuous curved surface so that the viewer is not distracted by corners, seams, or edges. All of these techniques are means of presenting a realistic view of a large scene in a compact space. A photograph or single-eye view of such a diorama can be especially convincing since in this case there is no distraction by the binocular perception of depth.

Carl Akeley, a naturalist, sculptor, and taxidermist, is credited with creating the first ever habitat diorama in the year 1889. Akeley's diorama featured taxidermied beavers in a three-dimensional habitat with a realistic, painted background. With the support of curator Frank M. Chapman, Akeley designed the popular habitat dioramas featured at the American Museum of Natural History. Combining art with science, these exhibitions were intended to educate the public about the growing need for habitat conservation. The modern AMNH Exhibitions Lab is charged with the creation of all dioramas and otherwise immersive environments in the museum.[12]

Theme parks

Forced perspective is extensively employed at theme parks and other such architecture as found in Disneyland and Las Vegas, often to make structures seem larger than they are in reality where physically larger structures would not be feasible or desirable, or to otherwise provide an optical illusion for entertainment value. Most notably, it is used by Walt Disney Imagineering in the Disney Theme Parks. Some notable examples of forced perspective in the parks, used to make the objects bigger, are the castles (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Belle). One of the most notable examples of forced perspective being used to make the object appear smaller is The American Adventure pavilion in Epcot.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Main-Street

At Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, the scale of architectural elements is much smaller in the upper reaches of the castle compared to the foundation, making it seem significantly taller than its actual height of 77 feet (23.470 meters).

Cinderella Castle 2013 Wade

At Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the scale once again gets smaller the higher one goes, making it seem significantly taller than its actual height of 189 feet (57.607 meters).


The American Adventure pavilion in Epcot, also in Walt Disney World, uses forced perspective to make a five storey building appear to be two and a half storeys.[13]


Photographic Illusions - Daniel Di Palma - Giant fingers grab hat from boy 02
Photographic Illusions - Daniel Di Palma - Boy with cardboard dog 01
Holding the sun in your hand (4632991393)
Winter dandelion (moon) (3184560497)
Das zarte Innere in deinem Licht
Holding the eiffel tower (4114302348)

See also


  1. ^ Daniela Bertol; David Foell (1997). Designing Digital Space: An Architect's Guide to Virtual Reality. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-471-14662-9.
  2. ^ Kevin Brownlow, David Lean, p.209
  3. ^ London, Bianca (27 May 2013). "'Baby mugging' photo trend arrives in the UK: Adorable tots pose in 'giant' tea cups". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  4. ^ Adam Eisenberg (November 1989). "Ghostbusters II: Ghostbusters Revisited". Cinefex.
  5. ^ Knight, Randall Dewey., Brian Jones, and Stuart Field. College Physics: a Strategic Approach. 1st ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education, 2006. Print. p. 704-705.
  6. ^ Michael A. Seeds; Dana E. Backman (2010). Stars and Galaxies (7 ed.). Brooks Cole. p. 39.
  7. ^ O'Shea, R.P., Blackburn, S.G., & Ono, H. (1994). Contrast as a depth cue. Vision Research, 34, 1595–1604.
  8. ^ George Mather (1996) "Image Blur as a Pictorial Depth Cue". Proceedings: Biological Sciences, Vol. 263, No. 1367 (Feb. 22, 1996), pp. 169–172.
  9. ^ "Gestalt Psychology". Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  10. ^ Lipton, L. (1982) Foundations of the Stereoscopic Cinema - A Study in Depth. New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold, pg 56.
  11. ^ a b Purves D, Lotto B (2003) Why We See What We Do: An Empirical Theory of Vision. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.
  12. ^ Stephen Christopher Quinn, Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History, Abrams, New York, 2006.
  13. ^ Wright], the Imagineers ; [Alex (2007). The Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot at Walt Disney World : an Imagineer's-Eye Tour (1st ed.). New York: Disney Editions. p. 103. ISBN 0786848863.

External links

Media related to Forced perspectives at Wikimedia Commons

Bill Brasky

Bill Brasky is an unseen character who is the subject of a series of sketches on the television sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live. The sketches were a recurring feature on the program between 1996 and 1998, and were written by cast member Will Ferrell and then-head writer Adam McKay. The sketch made a reappearance on the show on December 7, 2013, during which Ferrell made a guest appearance, as the episode was guest-hosted by his Anchorman 2 co-star Paul Rudd.

Cincinnati City Hall

Cincinnati City Hall is a registered historic building in Cincinnati, Ohio, listed in the National Register on December 11, 1972.

The main building comprises four and a half stories with a nine-story clock tower. An optical trick known as forced perspective makes the building appear even larger than it actually is. As it becomes taller, its windows get smaller.The building was constructed by the David Hummel company of Cincinnati using stone quarried in Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, and Indiana. Marble stairways and wainscoting originated in Italy and Tennessee, while granite columns were obtained from Vermont. Stained glass windows were installed which depict Cincinnatus and illustrate Cincinnati's early history. A granite statue of Jesus was contributed by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1864 and displayed in the alcove on the south side of the building until 2003.

The first city hall was built on this site in 1852 and was demolished in 1888 to make way for the current structure. Construction costs for the building totaled $1.61 million of which $54,000 was paid to Samuel Hannaford as architect and construction superintendent.

"Cincinnati's City Hall represents the prevailing architectural tastes at the time of its construction and the influence of H. H. Richardson on its designer, Samuel Hannaford. Richardson's winning design for the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce building was executed in the 1880's; however, the building's demolition in 1911 left City Hall the best remaining example of Richardson Romanesque in Cincinnati. Samuel Hannaford practiced from 1858 until 1897 and made a significant contribution to the architectural heritage of the Cincinnati area."


Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on July 17, 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built to completion under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. It was originally the only attraction on the property; its official name was changed to Disneyland Park to distinguish it from the expanding complex in the 1990s.

Walt Disney came up with the concept of Disneyland after visiting various amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930s and 1940s. He initially envisioned building a tourist attraction adjacent to his studios in Burbank to entertain fans who wished to visit; however, he soon realized that the proposed site was too small. After hiring a consultant to help him determine an appropriate site for his project, Disney bought a 160-acre (65 ha) site near Anaheim in 1953. Construction began in 1954 and the park was unveiled during a special televised press event on the ABC Television Network on July 17, 1955.

Since its opening, Disneyland has undergone expansions and major renovations, including the addition of New Orleans Square in 1966, Bear Country (now Critter Country) in 1972, and Mickey's Toontown in 1993. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is due to open in 2019. Opened in 2001, Disney California Adventure Park was built on the site of Disneyland's original parking lot.

Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with 708 million visits since it opened (as of December 2017). In 2017, the park had approximately 18.3 million visits, making it the second most visited amusement park in the world that year, behind only Magic Kingdom. According to a March 2005 Disney report, 65,700 jobs are supported by the Disneyland Resort, including about 20,000 direct Disney employees and 3,800 third-party employees (independent contractors or their employees). Disney Announced "Project Stardust" in 2019, which includes major structural renovations to the park to account for higher attendance numbers. Major renovations include widening Main Street, U.S.A. and changing the color scheme and forced perspective of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Forced Perspective (Fringe)

"Forced Perspective" is the tenth episode of the fourth season of the Fox science-fiction drama television series Fringe, and the series' 75th episode overall.

The episode was written by Ethan Gross, while being directed by David Solomon.

Forced Perspective (film)

Forced Perspective: The Art and Life of Derek Hess is a 2015 documentary about American based artist Derek Hess. The film tells the story of Hess's life and how his struggles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder have impacted his life and career.

Galleria Spada

The Galleria Spada is a museum in Rome (Italy), which is housed in the Palazzo Spada of the same name, located in the Piazza Capo di Ferro. The palazzo is also famous for its façade and for the forced perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini.

The gallery exhibits paintings from the 16th and 17th century.

Hanging miniature

Hanging miniature is an in-camera special effect similar to a matte shot where a model, rather than a painting, is placed in foreground and the action takes place in the background. It is thus a specific form of forced perspective.

Impossible cube

The impossible cube or irrational cube is an impossible object invented by M.C. Escher for his print Belvedere. It is a two-dimensional figure that superficially resembles a perspective drawing of a three-dimensional cube, with its features drawn inconsistently from the way they would appear in an actual cube. In Belvedere a boy seated at the foot of a building holds an impossible cube. A drawing of the related Necker cube (with its crossings circled) lies at his feet, while the building itself shares some of the same impossible features as the cube.The impossible cube draws upon the ambiguity present in a Necker cube illustration, in which a cube is drawn with its edges as line segments, and can be interpreted as being in either of two different three-dimensional orientations.

An impossible cube is usually rendered as a Necker cube in which the line segments representing the edges have been replaced by what are apparently solid beams.

In Escher's print, the top four joints of the cube, and the upper of the two crossings between its beams, match one of the two interpretations of the Necker cube, while the bottom four joints and the bottom crossing match the other interpretation. Other variations of the impossible cube combine these features in different ways; for instance, the one shown in the illustration draws all eight joints according to one interpretation of the Necker cube and both crossings according to the other interpretation.

The apparent solidity of the beams gives the impossible cube greater visual ambiguity than the Necker cube, which is less likely to be perceived as an impossible object. The illusion plays on the human eye's interpretation of two-dimensional pictures as three-dimensional objects. It is possible for three-dimensional objects to have the visual appearance of the impossible cube when seen from certain angles, either by making carefully placed cuts in the supposedly solid beams or by using forced perspective, but human experience with right-angled objects makes the impossible appearance seem more likely than the reality.Other artists than Escher, including Jos De Mey, have also made artworks featuring the impossible cube.

A doctored photograph purporting to be of an impossible cube was published in the June 1966 issue of Scientific American, where it was called a "Freemish crate". An impossible cube has also been featured on an Austrian postage stamp.

Impossible object

An impossible object (also known as an impossible figure or an undecidable figure) is a type of optical illusion. It consists of a two-dimensional figure which is instantly and subconsciously interpreted by the visual system as representing a projection of a three-dimensional object.

In most cases the impossibility becomes apparent after viewing the figure for a few seconds. However, the initial impression of a 3D object remains even after it has been contradicted. There are also more subtle examples of impossible objects where the impossibility does not become apparent spontaneously and it is necessary to consciously examine the geometry of the implied object to determine that it is impossible.

The unsettling nature of impossible objects occurs because of our natural desire to interpret 2D drawings as three-dimensional objects. This is why a drawing of a Necker cube would be most likely seen as a cube, rather than "two squares connected with diagonal lines, a square surrounded by irregular planar figures, or any other planar figure." With an impossible object, looking at different parts of the object makes one reassess the 3D nature of the object, which confuses the mind.Impossible objects are of interest to psychologists, mathematicians and artists without falling entirely into any one discipline.

In-camera effect

An in-camera effect is any special effect in a video or movie that is created solely by using techniques in and on the camera and/or its parts. The in-camera effect is defined by the fact that the effect exists on the original camera negative or video recording before it is sent to a lab or modified. So effects that modify the original negative at the lab, such as skip bleach or flashing, are not included. Likewise effects that work with props, such as squibs, fire, and dustball guns are also not included. Some examples of in camera effects include:

Matte painting

Schüfftan process

Forced perspective

Dolly zoom

Lens flares

Lighting effects

Filtration such as using a fog filter to simulate fog, or a grad filter to simulate sunset.

Shutter effects.

Time-lapse, slow motion, fast motion, and speed ramping.



Infrared photography

Reverse motion

Front projection

Rear projection

Phonotrope a live animation technique that uses the frame-rate of a camera

L'Atelier Rouge

L'Atelier Rouge, also known as The Red Studio, is a painting by Henri Matisse from 1911, in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York City.In 2004, L'Atelier Rouge came in at No. 5 in a poll of 500 art experts voting for the most influential of all works of modern art, along with works by Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol.

Lydecker brothers

Howard and Theodore Lydecker, always known—and billed—as such, were Howard "Babe" Lydecker (June 8, 1911 – September 26, 1969) and Theodore Lydecker (November 7, 1908 – May 25, 1990), a special effects team primarily working as contract staff members of Republic Pictures. They are best remembered as the producers and photographers of some of the best miniature effects of their time.

They both worked at Republic from its creation in 1935 until the company could no longer afford to maintain full-time contract players and behind-the-camera artists in the middle 1950s, after which they went freelance and found themselves in significant demand for both film and television work. Their miniature effects made Republic serials the best for visual effects, far outstripping their competitors at Universal (where special effects maestro John P. Fulton, ASC was forbidden from working on serials) and Columbia Pictures. Their success came from building large, detailed models and filming them in natural light, often in forced perspective to create realistic impressions that they were in fact life-size in relation to other objects and people in a shot, instead of the small models used by others, and the use of slow motion to give the models the appearance of realistic weight when in motion. For instance, in The Adventures of Captain Marvel, the visuals of Captain Marvel flying appear to be an actual man in flight, not a matted or superimposed image.

They were nominated for a Best Visual Effects Academy Award in 1941 for Women in War and Howard was nominated again in 1943 for Flying Tigers.Later they worked in feature films and Irwin Allen productions such as Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. In 1966 Howard won the Emmy for "Individual Achievement In Cinematography" with L. B. Abbott for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Matterhorn Bobsleds

The Matterhorn Bobsleds are a pair of intertwined steel roller coasters at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It is modelled after the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Alps on the border with Switzerland and Italy. It is the first known tubular steel continuous track roller coaster. Located on the border between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, it employs forced perspective to seem larger.

Miniature effect

A miniature effect is a special effect created for motion pictures and television programs using scale models. Scale models are often combined with high speed photography or matte shots to make gravitational and other effects appear convincing to the viewer. The use of miniatures has largely been superseded by computer-generated imagery in the contemporary cinema.

Where a miniature appears in the foreground of a shot, this is often very close to the camera lens — for example when matte painted backgrounds are used. Since the exposure is set to the object being filmed so the actors appear well lit, the miniature must be over-lit in order to balance the exposure and eliminate any depth of field differences that would otherwise be visible. This foreground miniature usage is referred to as forced perspective. Another form of miniature effect uses stop motion animation.

Use of scale models in the creation of visual effects by the entertainment industry dates back to the earliest days of cinema. Models and miniatures are copies of people, animals, buildings, settings and objects. Miniatures or models are used to represent things that do not really exist, or that are too expensive or difficult to film in reality, such as explosions, floods or fires.

Rectilinear lens

In photography, a rectilinear lens is a photographic lens that yields images where straight features, such as the walls of buildings, appear with straight lines, as opposed to being curved. In other words, it is a lens with little or no barrel or pincushion distortion. At particularly wide angles, however, the rectilinear perspective will cause objects to appear increasingly stretched and enlarged as they near the edge of the frame. These types of lenses are often used to create forced perspective effects.

The most famous example is the Rapid Rectilinear Lens developed by John Henry Dallmeyer in 1866. It allowed distortionless photos to be taken quickly for the first time, and was a standard lens design for 60 years.The vast majority of video and still cameras use lenses that produce nearly rectilinear images. A popular alternative type of lens is a fisheye lens which produces a distinctly curvilinear, wide-angled result.

Snowmass Peak

Snowmass Peak in the U.S. state of Colorado dominates the view from Snowmass Lake. It is often mistaken for Snowmass Mountain, the thirty-fourth highest mountain peak in the state, as well as for Hagerman Peak. Snowmass Peak is not really a peak but the lower end of Hagerman Peak's east ridge. Natural forced perspective causes the optical illusion that Snowmass Peak is higher than Hagerman Peak though it is actually 221 ft shorter than Hagerman's summit. This illusion combined with its striking rise behind Snowmass Lake justifies it being a named point on USGS topographical maps. It is located in the Elk Mountains, within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of the White River National Forest. It lies along the border between Pitkin and Gunnison counties, west of Aspen and southwest of the town of Snowmass Village.

The Tree (1993 film)

The Tree is a 1993 short film that Todd Field created while a fellow at the AFI Conservatory. It is a non-verbal dramatic piece following the life of a boy born at the turn of the century. The single setting, an apple tree set high on a rural ridge, is where we glimpse the boy mature, fall in love, go to war, return with his own son, and finally pay his last respects as a very old man who has seen much change. The set was designed using the tree as a scale foreground visual anchor and employing forced perspective for other items appearing in frame, including distant mountains, a train, and a town in transition. The scene changes from season to season and year to year all achieved practically using trompe-l'œil.

The film is loosely based upon and inspired by the story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.


Trompe-l'œil (French for "deceive the eye", pronounced [tʁɔ̃p lœj]) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture.

Verdun station

Verdun station is a Montreal Metro station in the borough of Verdun in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is operated by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and serves the Green Line. It opened on September 3, 1978, as part of the extension of the Green Line westward to Angrignon station.


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