Elf on a shelf! How they shot the classic Christmas movie using forced perspective

Elf on a shelf! How they shot the classic Christmas movie using forced perspective
(Image credit: New Line Cinema / Netflix)

The comedy classic movie Elf has become one of the most popular and beloved films to watch over the Christmas period. Even though the it is now 17 years old, the breakthrough Will Ferrell movie doesn't feel dated at all. There's almost a timeless feeling to it, and this was predominantly down to a number of in-camera techniques that the production team used to make the magic. 

Computer generated imagery (CGI) is an ever popular option for many film studios and effects houses, as it's a relatively effective way to depict something that otherwise may not have been possible. In Elf, for example, the cast were obviously not real elves, but a method of shooting them to look small had to be found – and the options were either to use CGI or employ practical in-camera effects. 

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Usman Dawood

Usman is a commercial and architectural photographer based in West Yorkshire, who has been working professionally for over seven years. He has also spent over four years as a writer for the biggest photography sites in the world, including Staff Writer for Digital Camera World, senior staff writer for FStoppers, and tech writer for Petapixel. 

With a particular interest in technology developments, high-resolution imaging and the high-end cameras, Usman has been on the cutting edge of camera news as well as writing features about medium format systems and global shutters, and has reviewed some of the latest Leica cameras as well as a tripod that’s even taller than Andre the Giant!