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Fun Forced-Perspective Experiments Kids Can Try at Home

Learn what “forced perspective” is, and what you need to know to pull it off. (Spoiler alert: a buddy, a phone camera, and some imagination!)

Sarah Burns

forced pov mgms

Ever notice how things that are far away look ... well ... tiny?  No, things don’t actually shrink the further away we are from them, that’s just how our eyes and brains process a 3-dimensional world. It’s called depth perception, and playing around with it can help us capture some pretty neat forced perspective tricks!

So what is forced perspective? Basically, it’s a technique that distorts our depth perception to create an optical illusion — and it’s pretty easy to do! All you need is a camera, a friend or two, and a big space to play in, and you’re ready to start snapping.

Magical Girl Mad Scientist (Counselor Sarah's STEM superhero alter ego) went to Cosmic CAMP with Counselor Matt to show us how it's done:

Step 1: Start with both subjects side by side.

sidebyside

Step 2: Have one subject take about 10 steps back.

stepback

Step 3: Have subjects pretend to look right at each other.

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Usually one subject will be looking slighting up and off in the distance, and the other will be looking slightly downwards.

Step 4. Make sure both subjects are in focus

Especially the subject furthest away, because that’s what really helps sell the illusion!

Step 5: Snap the pic!

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It’s easiest to try shooting from a low angle, because it strengthens the illusion that both subjects are standing on the same plane. 

And that’s it!

Try holding a ball just "out of reach"

Try holding a ball just "out of reach"

"Dangle" a buddy from your fingertips!

"Hold" a friend in the palm of your hand!

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Or get squashed by a giant foot! Look out!

squashed

These steps can help you shoot all kinds of interesting forced perspective tricks, so get creative, and follow these 3 simple rules for a successful shot every time:

  • Rule 1: To make someone (or something) look small, place it FAR AWAY from the camera.

    Rule 2: To make someone (or something) look big, place it CLOSE TO the camera.

    Rule 3: Alway make sure both subjects are in focus!

Watch Magical Girl Mad Scientist explain all about forced perspective, and learn more camera tricks!

See Familiar Friends from a Whole New Perspective!

Mickey Hero Mobile

Mickey Hero Mobile

Ever wondered what it might be like to be shrunk to the size of a crayon? Head to CAMP to join Disney's Mickey & Friends on a BIG adventure! Tickets available now!