Behind the Scenes of ‘Elf’ and the Use of Forced Perspective

Elf Forced Perspective
A look behind some of the practical effects used in the classic Christmas comedy - Elf (2003).

Everyone has a favorite holiday go to. For many, apparently, it’s now Die Hard. Here’s a whole infographic to prove how it is indeed a Christmas movie. But for others, the 2003 holiday comedy Elf (2003) starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel is a Christmas must-watch.

While the movie has aged surprisingly well for its era (2003 is not often considered a height of comedy filmmaking), it also gets a good boost this time every year for its sing-along scenes and Will Ferrell fun-loving man-child antics.

However, as seen on Reddit and several other places, a rare appreciation for its filmmaking practical effects has also seemingly suddenly popped up.

The Forced Perspective Used in 'Elf'

Forced Perspective

As you can see in the images above, forced perspective was a go-to filmmaking trick for Jon Favreau and his team to create many of the shots early in the film where the oversized Buddy struggles to fit in with Santa's elf community. For those who have studied filmmaking, using forced perspective for shots like this shouldn't come as much of a surprise as you've seen countless examples of it over the years in films like The Lord of the Rings.

However, as simple as it seems, it is always impressive to see in action. It's hard to see for sure, but the top image above appears to come from this behind the scenes series on the making of Elf. You can watch part 1 here, but the scenes in the elf community are show (briefly) in this part 2 video below as First Assistant Director Jim Brebner explains his role and some of the shots which they're trying to get.

If you're looking for more filmmaking inspiration, or other cool practical effects to try of your own, check out some of these No Film School articles as well    

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1 Comment

Looove it, more like this please!

December 22, 2018 at 6:19PM

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Guilllermo Castellanos
Videographer/Photographer
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