Special effects behind the best fantasy movies based on books

Tank Studio Lab
4 min readMay 17, 2022

Who doesn’t enjoy a good movie set in a magical world, with fantastic creatures and inspiring stories? No doubt fantasy movies have done a great job in both production and special effects to preserve that magic. But do you know how the most popular movies in history were recorded? Find out on this blog.

Special effects behind fantasy films

#1 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005)

This first film based on the book by C.S. Lewis, was highly anticipated, as the story speaks of talking animals and fantastic beings, and four children who changed their lives completely just by entering a closet. The dream of our childhood.

In 2005, it was successfully taken to the big screen. But what made the film make such a sensation?

The answer is simple. Released at a time when there was still no saturation of such films on the market, it managed to surprise and appeal to the audience despite not having many battles and action scenes. Too much focus was put on the fact that the story is in itself a fantasy, making the natural sceneries attractive to the eye, as you can see below.

Also, this film took a big step in the design of animals from Jumanji, being its production of spectacular special effects.

#2 Divergent (2014)

This film based on the book by Veronica Roth uses quite interesting special effects. Filmed in Atlanta and Georgia, they used various tools to create visual effects and monumental action scenes.

For example, in the faction test you can see hundreds of copies of the protagonist in a very elaborate way. Also, the film’s trains and buildings were made entirely by computer.

Divergent trains were created digitally

Another impressive scene was in which the characters had to climb a wall covered with electrified mesh. For this scene, a 24-meter high wall was built which was later digitally extended to look like a huge construction.

Impressive! A futuristic saga that caused a great sensation when it was taken to the cinema.

#3 The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games, a film based on the book by Suzanne Collins, tells a dystopian novel in which every year a survival game takes place, where the selected fight each other to the death.

Obviously, in a world where destruction reigns, special effects are needed. More if we add the warrior touch that the participants have. And in this film, the magic is a lot. Anything you can imagine was made with animation.

Fireballs, smoke, explosions, and even vegetation are made with animation techniques. Also, the sand was created with panels and to recreate the island were put elements in a water park. The result is simply magical in view of the viewer.

The Hunger Games

#4 Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Who is not a fan of the live-action version of this animated film, and book, with which we grew up in childhood?

And in this case we talk about the version of Tim Burton, in which a great post was doneproduction to include visual effects in more than 1700 sequences with 2D to 3D conversion results and spectacular animations to preserve the magic of this great story.

Characters and animals were developed entirely by computer and stereoscopy for a surreal atmosphere. This work took just over a year.

#5 Harry Potter (2001)

The world of Harry Potter is full of magic, and this is partly due to its special effects. Behind each scene, there is a great job of planning, execution and editing without a doubt.

Although most of the scenes look like visual effects, the reality is that in this film many scenes were made in an analog way, using hand-built sets, accessories and models that were then perfected in post-production. Also, you can not miss the use of the big green screen for its big scenes like the Quidditch tournaments.

This is the before and after of book-based movie special effects

#6 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Who did not dream as a child of entering the famous factory and swimming in the river of chocolate without stopping? The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was every child’s dream. And for example, the oompa loompas, these little men, were taken from the actor Deep Roy’s prototype, creating hundreds of replicas of himself programmed as robots.

Despite this, director Tim Burton comments that he avoided using too many special effects to maintain a realistic environment, using forced perspective, props and scale models to avoid the use of computer-generated images (CGI).

One of the few scenes in which CGI was used was in the scene in which Violet turns blue and swells, facial prostheses were used and then the scene was performed using CGI.

#6 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Did you know that squirrels are 100% real and were trained for 19 weeks to perform the famous scene? Impressive.

You’ve reached the bottom of the list. Did you know all this special effects work behind your favorite childhood films? We read you in the comments.

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