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Alice in Wonderland – What’s real and what isn’t

Posted by LiveFor on February 6, 2010


Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland could be a lot more than you think it is. LFF’s Pamela Fruendt pointed out a great article over on Rotten Tomatoes that explains what is CGI and what isn’t. Plus they had the great photos of the Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman) and Crispin Glover.

“We basically have three live-action characters,” explains David Schaub. “They are Alice (Mia Wasikowska), The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and The White Queen (Anne Hathaway). The Tweedles and the Knave of Hearts are real heads blended onto animated bodies. That creates a special look that you won’t have seen before. It’s very cool. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter’s character (The Red Queen) is an amalgamation of all kinds of different techniques, which we then distorted.” One of the most difficult characters to create, though, was The Cheshire Cat. “That was hard because he actually floats,” says Schaub. “So we had to think, if a cat could float, how would a cat float? Then he’s got this huge grin the whole time, which causes problems because he’s got to have emotions. But how do you make him anything other than happy when he’s got this permanent smile? It was intense.”

As for Wonderland itself, it’s almost entirely CGI. “There is one significant prop where Alice steps into Wonderland and goes down some stairs,” says Schaub. “That was an amazing piece of architecture. But everything else is a CG environment.”

“It’s funny,” laughs costume designer Colleen Atwood, who has worked with Tim Burton on seven films over the past 20 years, including Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish and Sweeney Todd. “Tim, Johnny and I had all made sketches of what we thought the Mad Hatter should look like. Then, when we sat down to discuss it, we realised they were all really similar!” One of the most interesting things about the Mad Hatter’s costume is that it changes colour according to his mood. “It’s like a mood ring,” explains Atwood. “I made his suits in different colours, with layers of other colours, and then they enhanced it with CGI. It’s going to look really fun.”

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