Everyone knows that the main character of Lewis Carroll’s seminal work, Alice in Wonderland, was based on a real girl one Alice Liddell. While the real-life Alice bore little resemblance to the illustrations, Disney’s movie adaptation was taken right from life.
In order to get the motion of their animations to be as lifelike as possible, Disney studios hired actors (usually the voice actors themselves) to act out certain scenes so that artists could recreate the images in animated form.
This is Kathryn Beaumont, who served as the model and voice actor for Alice.
Beaumont was 13 when she played Alice. Two years later, she did the voice and motion capture for Wendy Darling in Peter Pan.
She was outfitted in Alice’s iconic dress and pinafore. They even tied her hair up in a ribbon.
“At Disney, the animators would often use footage performed by actors to help guide and inspire them as they drew each scene,” Beaumont explains.
“There was no background or set of anything it was just the blue background that was always on that particular stage. They would set up the lights and the camera, and I would do the movements that went with different parts of the story.”
Here’s Beaumont’s film with Alice drawn on top.
As you can see, the proportions are slightly different. Alice is supposed to be a bit younger than 13, so the animators gave her a more childlike appearance.
They captured her movements perfectly!
Beaumont acted out almost every scene, and she was always in full costume.
Even though there was no formal set, some of the real-life props were pretty elaborate.
Other people joined in, too.
Since Beaumont was an integral part of the film, she got full behind-the-scenes access to the animation studio. It must have been cool for her to see herself come to life as an animated character. The work was tedious and painstaking, but I have a feeling that these artists loved every minute of it.
The animation in this video is called a “pencil test.” Watch as Beaumont herself explains how it works:
(via DeMilked, Wikipedia)
Today, Beaumont is 77 years old, and has retired from acting. Before that, though, she served as the voices for Alice and Wendy once again in the 2005 video game Kingdom Hearts.