Special effects and realism in “Alice in Wonderland”

Alice in Wonderland(2010)is an American computer-animated film directed by Tim Burton, released by Walt Disney Pictures and adapted by a Lewis Carroll’s classic fantasy adventure novel of the same name.Picture3.jpg

The film praises for wonderful visual experience and special effects, the beautiful 3D detail designed in each scene. Burton features in dark movies with fantasy elements and violent style. He adds the adventure, feminism elements and colourful scenes and comedy effects into the film to achieve a blockbuster movie and appeal to more audiences of different ages. The whole film finished through green screens. For example, all the animals in the film are computer-generated images (CGI); The Mad Hatter shoot only use special effects with green screen, and the scene that he was swinging from the top of the castle to the ground was also the CGI instead of traditional special effects.

As Prince (2011) said, the film uses the way that the traditional special effects could not accomplish to compel belief in fiction film, the visual effects enhanced by CGI achieve a kind of perceptual realism to persuade the spectators into the world which director describe. Viewers was persuaded themselves by new levels of sensory detail, the effectiveness derives from the combination of CG and physical effects.movie_before_after_cgi_16.jpg

Steve Boeddeker who is the sound designer/ supervisor of the film said in a interview, the challenge is that 3D process is the last thing to happen after all the visual effects and sound designed are finished in 2D, actors should image the scene before the green screen and the sound designers need consider the surrounding sound match the final effects through earlier rough animation (Isaza, 2010).


Burton describes a completely new world other than the reality through sound, setting, and visual effects. But it was criticized because it lacks narrative coherence and overuses CGI. Besides, a part of audiences are dissatisfied with the performance of actors, and they think the three-dimensional effect is not as real as Avatar and Pandora.


Gillingham, E. (2012). Alice in Wonderland: In Depth. [Online] Available at https://helpln.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/film-adaptation-paper-alice-in-wonderland/  [Accessed 26 March. 2017].

Isaza, M. (2010). “Alice in Wonderland” – Exclusive Interview with Sound Designer/Supervisor Steve Boeddeker. [Online] Available at http://designingsound.org/2010/03/alice-in-wonderland-exclusive-interview-with-sound-designersupervisor-steve-boeddeker/  [Accessed 26 March. 2017].

Prince, S. (2011). Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality. Rutgers University Press, p.33.


Written by Yijun Zhang


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