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How was this scaling effect done?

My first assumption would have been green screen, but it's clearly not - she's taking on all the light and shadow from the scene around her. Even modern green screen probably doesn't look that good. Well maybe only nowadays, but certainly not back in 1972 or even 10 years ago.

She scales up perfectly, and then at the end, falls against the wall, interacting with the scenery.

You can even see her shadow interacting with the back wall on the left during the first half of the growing, and then in the latter half, her shadow is interacting with the fireplace on the left as well.

As far as I can tell, it looks perfectly real... and from a movie made in 1972.

I've tried to wrap my head around how they could have done it with forced perspective somehow, while moving her and the background towards/away from the camera, together or separately, but that just doesn't work...

  • 3
    If you only watch Alice, you can see she is moving towards the camera (especially where she first moves her feet). Also watch her shadow on the back wall, it moves to the left at the start; if she was growing in place, it would just get larger. Most obvious is the shadow on the left-hand fireplace - it quickly goes from front to back as the increase in size speeds up. Then the final wall being leant on only comes into view once fully enlarged. Works well if you don't look too closely. – freedomn-m Nov 27 '18 at 7:51
  • @freedomn-m Yes you're right - I noticed those exact same shadow movements when I checked it again recently after selecting the new answer. That's what makes IMil's answer more correct than BlueMoon93's answer. – Domarius Nov 29 '18 at 4:45
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    The video was removed. Here is a copy: youtube.com/watch?v=LFTZHJRFiGk – Hermann Jun 29 at 23:01
  • @Hermann Thank you, I updated the original post for everyone else's benefit :) – Domarius Jul 1 at 20:53
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I agree with BlueMoon93 that the illusion of growth is obtained simply by dragging Alice towards the camera (note that her legs and the floor are not visible).

However, I think that Ames room was not used. The room could have been perfectly ordinary. Meanwhile, the wall to the right, which Alice got thrown against, did not actually join the ceiling: if you take a close look at a still frame, you'll notice that there is no white border between it and the ceiling, like the other walls have, and the left side, where it seems to join the far wall, even is curved, probably to accommodate the pictures. And I didn't see any moment when Alice's shadow passed from this wall to the ceiling.

To sum up: Alice is dragged towards the camera, probably on a cart, and ends up next to a small, say half a metre high, fake wall. Clever lighting masks the gaps.

Alice against the wall

UPD: I went back a little and noticed that the original wall was also sloped, so this is not an argument in favour of a separate wall per se. Nevertheless, while I don't have definite proof, such approach would definitely be much cheaper than building a full Ames room for a few seconds of screen time. Alice enters the room

  • If it wasn't an Ames room, how would you explain her head getting closer to the ceiling? – Darren Nov 27 '18 at 11:57
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    @Darren It doesn't. She acts as though it is by ducking down but there is no evidence that she actually gets closer. It's cleverly done though. – Tim B Nov 27 '18 at 12:06
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    Ok, the other answer has the most upvotes for giving the Ames room example, but upon reading yours and re-watching it, I think you're dead-on, so selected yours. Same concept but they don't have to go to all that work of calculating the perspective. Plus she doesn't move from left to right (until the very end), so it's not the same as the Ames room. I can totally see how the edge of that wall looks very different from the back of the room. This makes much more sense as it is the simpler solution. Also when I watch the shadows she's casting, they clearly show her moving towards the camera. – Domarius Nov 28 '18 at 7:42
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    @Domarius thanks. The other answer also mentioned moving towards camera; this would be required both in Ames room and with a single wall. Basically, the argument in favour of my position is Occam's razor: why build a whole room when a single wall would suffice? Maybe more hi-res video would make everything even more clear. – IMil Nov 28 '18 at 12:50
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    FANTASTIC effect. Sometimes simpler is better. – Prof. Falken supports Monica Nov 28 '18 at 14:40
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The Ames Room, forced perspective, and moving towards the camera.

The left side of the room is much larger and farther away than the right side of the room. Take a look at the same illusion here:

She is pulled towards the camera in the beginning, and then moves to the right area, which is much smaller than the left area. After the camera cuts, it's just a tiny room with miniature everything and Alice in it.

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    If you ever get the chance to have a go in an Ames room (with friends), take it. I went to the one at the Glasgow Science centre with a load of physicists/engineers and it was well worth it (basically we only left it when they fed us). – Chris H Nov 26 '18 at 15:45
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    Worth noting that a more recent example of this techique was used in the LOTR films, particularly the Bag-End scenes between Gandalf, Frodo and Bilbo. – Darren Nov 26 '18 at 16:25
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    @Darren Although that added the twist of sitting both actors and the set around them on electronically-controlled mounts, with the camera also on an electronically-controlled mount. The Ames room relies on a fixed camera. With the camera and both actors' positions under computer control though, the camera could move and still keep the actors at the correct relative distances to get the size illusion. AFAIK that was invented by Weta for LotR (one of many inventions during those films, of course). – Graham Nov 26 '18 at 22:05
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    Oh man I can't believe I didn't think of this! Yes my friends and I have been able to interact with one of those rooms in "The Science Center" in Brisbane (Australia). Thank you. – Domarius Nov 28 '18 at 7:39

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