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How Cinderella was reinvented for modern cinema

A classic tale of pumpkin coaches, glass slippers and sibling rivalry, the story Cinderella is believed to date all the way back to 7BC (the original version following a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt). For the last half century the most familiar incarnation has been Disney's 1950 animation of the same name.

But now Disney's taking another crack at Cinderella, in an epic live-action feature starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Richard Madden.

Most of the visual effects work for Cinderella 2015, around 500 shots, was delivered by MPC (opens in new tab), with Patrick Ledda – who's also worked on Maleficent, Jack the Giant Slayer and Voyage of the Dawn Trader – supervising. Here we chat to Ledda about reinventing the magic of Cinderella for modern cinema audiences...

What was the brief and did it get you excited or terrified, or a little of both?

Patrick Ledda

Patrick Ledda

As soon as I sat down with Charley Henley (production VFX supervisor) to look at early concept work, I got very excited! The production design was incredible, there was a clear visual language and CG work had to marry this as elegantly as possible.

I knew this was going to be a project with lots of creative and technical challenges. At the same time, I knew there were also fantastic opportunities to produce visually exciting images.

How much preparation was involved?

After wrapping principal photography, we had several sessions with Kenneth Branagh going through the entire movie scene by scene.

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We had extensive conversations about our digital characters and how they would interact with Cinderella. The environment, the transformations and so on. It was very dynamic and creative process.

How closely did you look at the original animated film for inspiration?

The entire crew was very familiar with the 1950s animated feature as most artists are. We used it as a reference and inspiration; however we were also keen to put our own stamp on the movie.

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What scene or shot did you enjoy most?

To pick one shot is difficult but I would say that the entire scene at the ball is probably what I enjoyed working on the most. From the opening shot of the ball sequence where we fly through fireworks and have a first establisher of the palace at night to the slipper bouncing down the stairs.

I find that live action (mainly interiors and gardens) and CG work (exterior of palace, gardens, landscape, stairs) complemented each other naturally.

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From practical sets during the dance to CG exterior shots there's a common visual language which is not always easy to achieve.

The CG Awards 2015

The CG Awards 2015 (opens in new tab) recognises the work of the entire industry: from software and hardware to artists and technicians. This year's awards are now open for nominations, so you can put forward your candidates right now. Just visit thecgawards.com (opens in new tab) and nominate in one of the 17 categories.

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