3 months ago

How movies make characters appear taller or smaller

Since the invention of film, filmmakers have tried to trick viewers into believing that an actor is either shorter or taller than they really are. The most classic techniques are sticking an actor on a platform or having them interact with props built to scale. But those need to be paired with clever camera angles and visual effects. In "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), director Peter Jackson employed forced perspective so Gandalf would really look like he was interacting with a hobbit. More complex computer-controlled camera moves and blue-screen compositing helped make the shots more complex and were used further in "The Two Towers" (2002), "The Return of the King" (2003), and the "Hobbit" trilogy (2012 to 2014). Performance capture created even more opportunities for actors to play giants on camera in "Avatar" (2009) and "The BFG" (2016), but creating the proper sense of scale gets trickier when these characters have to interact with normal-sized actors. When playing 8-foot-tall Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018) and "Avengers: Endgame" (2019), Josh Brolin wore a cutout on his head to fill the gap. A more sophisticated method used in Marvel's "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" (2022) involved using CG to combine Tatiana Maslany's performance with that of a much taller body double. Now, with "Avatar: The Way of Water" (2022), director James Cameron and the artists at Wētā figured out some of the most precise and convincing ways yet to size up actors through a combination of floating monitors, virtual cameras, and props.

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