PFW VFX Breakdown for Mirror Mirror

Prime Focus World has delivered stand-out VFX work for Tarsem Singh's very different spin on the story of Snow White. The Relativity Media film stars Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer and tells the story of how an evil queen steals control of a kingdom, and of an exiled princess who enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

Full of the usual Tarsem magic, Prime Focus World VFX and Animation teams in London, Vancouver and India were tasked with creating a variety of challenging sequences, including the creation of two human-sized wooden mannequins which come to life. The mannequins were conceptualised, designed and built to a level of textural detail that would hold up for very close shots, then animated in a beautifully orchestrated battle sequence by the talented Prime Focus World Animation team, led by Michael Eames in London.

Prime Focus World also delivered a full CG environment depicting a wooden cottage in the middle of an expansive lake and the CG replacement of the Queen's magical zoetrope and glass egg. One of the most challenging shots undertaken saw the Queen pass through the magical mirror, causing a ripple reflection. A dual camera set up was used on set to capture both the foreground Queen and her reflection plate at the same time.

In addition to the Queen's cottage work mentioned above, PFW also contributed the 'Cottage Mirror' shots, which involved compositing multiple layers of footage, both traditional photography and infra-red photography, to create the stylistic world and appearance of the 'Mirror Queen'. As the Mirror Queen has different hair and wardrobe, a real mirror could not be used practically to shoot both real Queen and Mirror Queen. Instead, the Mirror Queen elements were shot separately, sometimes on different days. These elements were then combined and repositioned to achieve the final composition. The decision was also made to add enhanced reflections of the Queen to the walls of the Mirror Queen's Cottage. These reflections required a significant amount of roto and masking, with the reflection source material, in many cases, coming from a different camera angle and take.

Finally, PFW delivered what were termed the 'Magic Shots' - enhancements designed to illustrate the presence of a magical event. Examples include the love potion effect, which sees small effervescent hearts appear and swirl around the Prince's head, showing the intoxicating effect of the Queen's love potion, and the Queen's pendant, which glows to show that it is controlling the Beast.

The first film to be delivered from PFW's new dedicated VFX and Stereoscopy facility in London, 'Mirror Mirror' is Prime Focus World's second collaboration on a Tarsem Singh film - the team recently completed the full 3D conversion and over 200 stunning visual effects shots for Tarsem's epic 'Immortals'.

Tarsem discusses the VFX in 'Mirror Mirror' as part of an in-depth interview with Digital Trends which can be read here.

RELEASE: March 20, 2012

Director: Tarsem Singh
Producers: Bernie Goldmann, Ryan Kavanaugh, Brett Ratner
Studio / Distributor: Relativity Media

PFW Supervisor: Stuart Lashley
PFW Producer: Tim Keene
PFW Scope of Work: VFX & Animation, 160 shots
Lead PFW Facility: London