Snow White gets digital makeover

'Mirror Mirror' lassoes Rodeo FX, guru Morel for storybook feel

Among the crucial visual elements in Tarsem Singh’s revisionist Snow White pic “Mirror Mirror,” are the digital landscapes and environments created by Rodeo FX of Montreal, and particularly Rodeo visual effects art director Rene Morel.

Quebec native Morel was well into a career as a painter — he calls his art style “kind of realistic, but with abstract techniques” — when a friend suggested his knack for realism would translate well to computer imagery. He now boasts more than a dozen TV and movie credits.

On “Mirror Mirror,” Singh and vfx supervisor Tom Wood had at first planned realistic winter landscapes, but it became clear that vision wasn’t going to work. By the time they enlisted Morel and the Rodeo team, Morel remembers, they didn’t want something photo-real. “They were referring to (legendary illustrator) Maxwell Parrish for the ambiance and the big cumulus clouds, and to the architect Gaudi for the castle and the environment around (it).”

Facing a short post-production schedule, Morel and his cohorts knew they had to get the right look in as few iterations as possible. “They did an absolutely fantastic job with the forest and the light, and the construction of the lake and the cliffs,” says Wood, adding that the digital environments for the movie were more important because there were very few exterior sets, and no location shooting. “I wanted it to have a storybook feel with a realistic finish,” Wood says. “That’s perfect for Rodeo.”