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The Science of Forced Perspective at Disney Parks

cookiee_munster

Well-Known Member
Nice One :)

Regarding the Beauty & The Beast castle at WDW, is there any way they could improve the forced perspective? possibly take some of the detail away?
 

Magicart87

〝𝘙𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘺-𝘖!〞
Premium Member
Some might find this video interesting. It does a very good job of explaining the details of how color and size are used in Disney Park design for forced perspective.
What I find interesting is that the forced perspective on Beast's Castle almost works. Close but no cigar. The illusion works much better when seen on video. The naked eye however can better distinguish depth and scale. (Wonder if the effect is more believable when looking at it with one eye!?) Obviously, had the building been painted better with Imagineering giving us at least one more visual clue for scale/ size comparison we might have been more susceptible to believing the castle is 200' tall. But how? What could they add to make it work? An additional bridge? More trees? A waterfall?

beast-castle.jpg
 
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donsullivan

Premium Member
Original Poster
I never thought clearly about the muted colors to represent distance until they showed it on Monument Valley in CarsLand. Now as I see what they've done with the flats in France expansion area makes more sense. It's representing a distant skyline and too much detail doesn't look right
 

lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
Sigh. There is no set "scale" for buildings. Scale in architecture describes the relationship to the human form. Main Street, USA is not built at a set of "scales". A fairly typical 36" x 84" door would be 32.4" x 75.6" at a 9/10 scale. You don't have people ducking under doors because they're not even 6' 4" tall.

There is also no set definition of "story" either. The popular notion of a story being 10' floor-to-floor is mostly in reference to residential structures and even then that is not consistent. Stories 15' - 20' tall are nothing unusual.
 
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Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
What I find interesting is that the forced perspective on Beast's Castle almost works. Close but no cigar. The illusion works much better when seen on video. The naked eye however can better distinguish depth and scale. (Wonder if the effect is more believable when looking at it with one eye!?) Obviously, had the building been painted better with Imagineering giving us at least one more visual clue for scale/ size comparison we might have been more susceptible to believing the castle is 200' tall. But how? What could they add to make it work? An additional bridge? More trees? A waterfall?

beast-castle.jpg
The castle could have been believable except for one thing. You go to dinner in the castle which is right there in front of you and the castle is supposed to be why up on a hill, far away from the Be Our Guest dining area. That must be some godawful long hallway to get to the bathroom.
 

LastoneOn

Well-Known Member
Over at Universal the Hogworts castle just looks like different sized tiles all the way up. Started with 18x18 lets say, then 12x12, then the third floor is 8x8. Like that. Woo Hoo. Just doesn't work for me, too elemental and obvious.

At MK you go up and look at the castle and just kind of automatically believe.
 
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yensidtlaw1969

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
The situation with the Beast's Castle on Be Our Guest is a case of Illusory Forced Perspective being exchanged for Illustrative Forced Perspective - the arrangement of the space and modulation of scale tells you that the castle is supposed to be large but far away, but the arrangement is insufficient to actually cause you to believe it really is.

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom is a great example of Illusory Forced Perspective. The human senses are generally convinced that the Castle is taller than it actually is - how many people are genuinely surprised to learn the Castle doesn't even break 200 feet?

1604745872370.png


Then you have something like Cinderella Castle in the Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland - the Castle is designed to tower over its surroundings and depict a sense of scale relative to the rest of the landscape, but it isn't meant to convince you that the towers are really hundreds of feet tall. It is merely a small-scale illustration of a tall structure, not an illusion of a tall structure.

1604746105477.png



The Beast's Castle, in effect, has more in relation with Storybook Land's Cinderella Castle than the Magic Kingdom Icon - which is unfortunate simply because that was not the intended effect.

This has a lot to do with the way the rockwork is massed - it makes very little effort to "graduate" progressively from the scale we are at on the ground to the scale the Castle is meant to be at up on top of the rocks. If the rockwork stepped back and continually feigned getting smaller with each step then the Castle might not feel so puny. Instead the rockwork acts as a mass, collective shelf upon which the miniaturized Castle is merely sat.

1604746535503.png


It doesn't help that the Castle itself poorly utilizes Forced Perspective: Does anyone else feel like the Castle looks much larger in pictures with construction workers providing scale than it looks standing on its own? This is the exact opposite of the effect that should be happening:

1604746921725.png
1604747170726.png


There's an absence of detail here that I think was meant to suggest some sort of atmospheric diffusion where the "finer elements" of the Castle seem to blur together because they are so far away . . . but the trick to making things look far away isn't the absence of detail, which the Beast's Castle weirdly tries to rely on, but the presence of well-scaled, very intentional detail. Cinderella Castle has Gargoyles all the way up the structure, even on the highest towers - but they don't disappear, they just get smaller as they go.

The intricacies of a structure are less distinctly percievable from a far-away vantage point, but they do still register an overall visual effect. A Telephoto picture of the Empire State Building has less legible detail than a picture from a nearby street, but it's not like the building has fewer windows - they're just harder to count. The lines get blurrier, but the lines are still there.

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That's part of why you "automatically believe" MK Cinderella Castle's Forced Perspective - it has enough visual information, balanced with actual scale and intelligent massing, to create a convincing illusion. Beast's Castle lacks visual information, poor massing, and on an insufficient physical scale to create an edifice for guests to genuinely confront. It feels dinky because it is and they forgot to hide that.

It's like the difference between Constance and the Ballroom Dancers in the Haunted Mansion - one is a mere projection; an Illustration of a Ghost. You're being told what she looks like but not pursuaded that she's real. The other is an effect; it creates the convincing illusion of a Ghost in space (and, thrillingly, many of them). You see the illustration of dancing Ghosts, yes, but you also have very little choice but to believe they are really occupying the space in front of you. Illustration vs. Illusion.
 
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yensidtlaw1969

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
Worth adding - Forced Perspective requires serious commitment, it's not a cheat code.

Part of the reason Cinderella Castle works so well is because it IS massive . . . just not as massive as it purports to be.

The Beast's Castle is diminutive but tries to tell you it's massive. That doesn't work. It's too big a leap without serious, serious control of the perspective from which the guests encounter it. You have that kind of control inside a show building - but outside with many vantage points available to guests? It takes serious commitment to sell that.

Cinderella Castle has this - it looks massive from every angle. They committed. The Beast's Castle can really only be seen on 2.5 sides and doesn't work from any of them . . . womp womp. The bar was lower and they still didn't clear it.

Forced Perspective works best as an exaggeration, not an outright lie.
 

marni1971

WDW History nut
Premium Member
The castles design worked far better with trees in the original hub - as designed you couldn’t connect the building to the ground from Main Street. This removal of a horizon accentuated the castle since you couldn't accurately gauge its distance away, or compare its size to people stood in front of it. Removal of the trees removed this added feature.

Fun fact - Tinkerbell isn’t lit during her flight until she moves away from the castle lest you see the real size of the spire. Nor is the top most spire ever fully illuminated aside from the end of Kiss Goodnight (and then only briefly) - allowing the spire to blend into the sky adds to the appearance of scale.

The Skull Island roofline and rooftop facade in IOA is a good and clear example of fading colour to add depth. Disney have used it for more of course, and quite often. They also put reverse forced perspective to good use where necessary too. Main Street and the AmAd show this very well (or not- as was the original intent)
 

Fox&Hound

Well-Known Member
The castle could have been believable except for one thing. You go to dinner in the castle which is right there in front of you and the castle is supposed to be why up on a hill, far away from the Be Our Guest dining area. That must be some godawful long hallway to get to the bathroom.

Agreed. It is weird that the castle is up on a rock structure and we enter into the side of the...mountain. Never felt right...
 

DGracey

Well-Known Member
The castles design worked far better with trees in the original hub - as designed you couldn’t connect the building to the ground from Main Street. This removal of a horizon accentuated the castle since you couldn't accurately gauge its distance away, or compare its size to people stood in front of it. Removal of the trees removed this added feature.

It sure did.

The original design was absolute perfection. Those hub trees are sure missed - from each and every angle.
6888841945_3a54ea6183_o.jpg


2by69x.jpg
 

Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
It sure did.

The original design was absolute perfection. Those hub trees are sure missed - from each and every angle.
View attachment 512106

View attachment 512107
Bases on that last picture, at least, it appears that the tree blocked Castle did the opposite. It makes the Castle look smaller and not as tall. It basically places reality right smack in front of a forced perspective and lets everyone know exactly how big it isn't.
 

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