Home Painting Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Period particular fx: MATTE & EFFECTS FILMS CELEBRATED: Half One

Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Period particular fx: MATTE & EFFECTS FILMS CELEBRATED: Half One


Greetings associates and myriad fans of ‘outdated time’ conventional particular photographic results, mattes, miniatures, trick pictures and all such ‘misplaced’ artwork types of days passed by.  It’s time for one more journey down that ever fascinating path of great movement image magic, that all of us love a lot.

Immediately, I’ve assembled a really broad cross part of movies, from throughout the cinematic spectrum – from science fiction, western, swashbuckler, jungle journey and epic desert romance genres – all right here within the one packed weblog submit.  As typical, I’ve included a number of worthy titles that few – if any – might have heard of, not to mention seen.  Any youthful readers in all probability have not heard of any of the seven titles profiled right here in depth.  There’s nothing as thrilling for NZ Pete than discovering some heretofore ‘misplaced’ or forgotten flick that not solely is a revealing trick shot present, but in addition a extremely fulfilling movie in itself to high it off, and that reward got here with no less than one of many films right here in the present day.


Earlier than we dive deep into the roster of results movies I’ve lined up, I have to as soon as once more, deliver to the eye of all readers on the market the ever increasing You Tube channel, ‘Albert Whitlock’s Matte Division & Phantasm Arts’ by which my pal Thomas Higginson has spent infinite hours/days/weeks along with his eye lids propped open with matchsticks, and infinite cups of robust espresso, tirelessly placing collectively a collection of super behind the scenes matte shot reels from a number of movies.  Movies reminiscent of GENESIS II;  BOUND FOR GLORY;  THE TWILIGHT ZONE television collection; SHIP OF FOOLS and BUCK ROGERS have to this point been highlighted in nice element, with the BUCK doco being my specific favorite to this point.  I am certain I communicate for all of us who love this medium of magic that we’re extraordinarily grateful to Tom for taking up this mission and preserving and presenting these worthwhile items of celluloid photographic results historical past and making a lot out there to the general public at massive, slightly than archived away in some Misplaced Ark styled warehouse, and by no means seeing the sunshine of day once more. 

As of this writing, a number of extra are within the works, or nearing completion such because the Bond image DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (due out any day now); the unrealised 80’s remake of THE LOST WORLD; sci-fi basic COLOSSUS-THE FORBIN PROJECT; catastrophe epic EARTHQUAKE and plenty of extra.  Completely important viewing (and re-viewing) that any fan of Al Whitlock and Syd Dutton and the warehouse stuffed with exceptional pictures these guys turned out (within the a number of hundred!).   Discover it right here!!!
Additionally effectively value a glance on the identical website is a touching memorial video and photograph tribute to the late Invoice Taylor, with some great anecdotes and most touching and sometimes fairly humorous tributes from a few of those that knew Invoice.  I most strongly advocate it.

So, as per typical, it’s time to board the interstellar ship for our journey by way of that galaxy of surprise that we recognise and admire as the standard matte painted trick shot…and a wholesome bounty of miniatures as effectively simply to stability issues out properly.  Oh, and do forgive me for slipping off matter on the odd event – occurring about sure actors or administrators or issues seemingly unrelated – as I’ve a behavior of doing.

Benefit from the journey



Now…. on with the present

***This submit, and all 179 earlier weblog posts often called ‘Matte Shot’, had been initially created by Peter Cook dinner for nzpetesmatteshot, with all content material, format and textual content initially revealed at http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/


Curiously, HEARTBEEPS (1981) was itself a deliberate ‘making of’ YouTube mission however for varied causes the unique Whitlock 35mm fx reels from Invoice Taylor’s assortment weren’t in a position to be digitized, regardless of a plan to take action as a consequence of lack of funding, for what’s a really costly train.

I did not in any respect look after the movie again within the 1980’s, although, as I enter my twilight years I discover myself mellowing considerably and may now admire it way more as a cute, candy natured fable, although actually flawed, it positively has it is coronary heart in the appropriate place. I will speak extra concerning the movie’s director, Allan Arkush shortly, however it’s value noting that Allan himself said that he hadn’t actually been a particular results fan as such, and located this facet in HEARTBEEPS – what with make up fx, mechanical units and naturally mattes – considerably intimidating to say the least.  Allan confessed to an interviewer that trying again, he by no means felt he used ‘particular results’ on this movie in addition to he ought to have.  In contrast to all of us studying this submit, Arkush confessed that he by no means ever ‘dissected’ results films!

Principally, a mild sci-fi love story set within the very close to future, HEARTBEEPS sees a pair of robots fall in love and abscond from the huge android manufacturing unit.  A effectively forged Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters had been the besotted mechanised pair, beneath vital and fantastically designed Stan Winston make up home equipment.

Albert Whitlock oversaw the numerous mattes and photographic results pictures, with uncredited assistant, Syd Dutton offering a variety of mattes.  Curiously, along with fx cinematographers Invoice Taylor and Dennis Glouner being display screen credited, assistant grip Henry Schoessler acquired his title up there, as did Al’s son Mark as basic assistant.

Al Whitlock with trusty tied down and rock regular matte digital camera.

A snapshot of Whitlock and his crew on location for the movie MACARTHUR, made some 4 years earlier.

Common Studio’s resident masters of phantasm, Albert Whitlock, Syd Dutton and Invoice Taylor.  Observe:  The highest left pic seems to point out the Mitchell matte digital camera mounted on a Nodal Level digital camera head.

The opening extraordinarily large pan shot – or no less than a portion of it – with matte assistant Mark Whitlock in costume and added into an already very advanced composite as a blue display screen component.  Mark would himself change into a gifted matte artist a number of years after and painted on a variety of movies and television reveals together with no less than one shot for this movie.

The very broad pan throughout a big painted setting and robotic manufacturing unit.  A extremely difficult a number of composite shot integrating dwell motion components, work, miniature props, animation and cel overlays, to good impact.

Partial earlier than and after…  I spoke with the late (and really beneficiant) Mr Invoice Taylor a while in the past about this shot which has intrigued me.  As was Invoice’s typical method, he went out of his strategy to describe and illustrate the method to me:  “The HEARTBEEPS shot is among the few made with our ‘Tremendous Lens’, initially created for DUNE however by no means used on it.  The Tremendous Lens allow us to put a 2:1 squeeze on the lengthy dimension [width] of the VistaVision body, giving a 3:1 facet ratio, which gave us extra actual property for optical pans.  The optical high quality of the lens was okay at small apertures; it was a prototype and will have used one other iteration within the design.  The spinning whirly-gig was the one miniature component.  The heatwaves within the ultimate shot on proper had been constructed into the unique adverse shot – although too broad I feel.  The foreground chap who goes proper over the portray is Mark Whitlock, shot on our blue display screen stage.  The Tremendous Lens was additionally used for the opening matte shot of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS”.

The latter a part of the large pan throughout the fictional setting.
Al’s phenomenal portray.  Syd advised me that the work was cut up between the pair of them, with Al dealing with all the exterior/open air scenes and Syd portray all the varied manufacturing unit interiors.
A splendid shut have a look at Whitlock’s magnificent piece, with all the basic attributes Al was so revered for, reminiscent of his evocative feeling of how mild performs upon objects, particularly with a three-quarter backlight and lengthy shadows.  Al’s sense of depth and expanse of distance by way of fairly easy brushwork along with his receding mild.  A grasp of the artwork type.

Al along with his huge portray, which I consider was auctioned off some time again and is now proudly within the possession of one of many results trade’s VFX supervisors.  You’d want an unlimited wall house to accommodate this magnificence!  Observe: the blacked out space at proper was for addition of a big miniature prop and a full dimension painted wall facade, which can all mix in completely in Invoice Taylor’s ultimate composite. Bravo!

Properly detailed and cell miniature satellite tv for pc dish, constructed by David Merritt, and roughly painted facade backing behind Whitlock which can mix invisibly with the individually rendered matte portray within the very advanced completed shot.

Three integral members of the Common matte crew;  grip and extremely resourseful modeller, Lynn Ledgerwood.  Very long time Common matte digital camera operator, Mike Moramarco, and optical and matte cinematographer Dennis Glouner – who occurred to be the nephew of outdated time Columbia results cameraman Donald Glouner, with the Glouner household title going method again to outdated time Hollywood.

Shut up element.

The primary of a number of matte painted interiors rendered by Syd Dutton.  Syd advised me he did not in any respect thoughts being lumped with these chores:  “I used to be fairly blissful to do the extra tedious work”.

One other fast matte with actors Randy Quaid and Kenneth McMillan added in by way of travelling matte.

Syd’s authentic matte artwork for above scene.  See under for breakdown.

The fundamental set and masked off half body previous to Syd’s portray being added.

The ultimate shot with matte artwork and dwell motion, proven right here earlier than the introduction of blue screened in foreground dwell motion which within the ultimate minimize obscures a lot of Syd’s portray.
One other from the succession of Syd’s many mattes, with the distant manufacturing unit facility being painted in. 

A splendidly constructed matted set extension performed as a value saver to the manufacturing, although the price range was some $12 million.  The entire home windows, surroundings, flooring and distant racking was Syd’s.

A cut up shot right here with half actual set on left and the opposite aspect all painted on glass.  A number of perspective drawing wanted right here.

A key matte phantasm in HEARTBEEPS was the attractive sundown sequence as considered by our two robots as they ponder what lies past the confines of this monumental mechanical workshop.  The impact was way more concerned that may appear at first look, with this essential matte portray showing a number of instances in a single prolonged sequence.

Al’s multi component sundown portray, mixed with an actual interactively lit foreground tree, comped as a blue display screen shot with the stage set and actors.

Whitlock’s stunning authentic matte artwork, which I am thrilled to say I personal and admire every time I enter or exit our bed room, with it gracing the wall outdoors the door.

Nearer element reveals Albert’s love of the Hudson River College of nineteenth Century painters reminiscent of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt.  Al was an enormous admirer of those painters and that was mirrored in lots of his personal private ‘tremendous’ work which might be nonetheless in circulation and personal possession.  Curiously, when requested in an interview method again within the early 70’s about his personal non-matte portray pursuits,and the way a lot he seems, Al responded: “Properly, not a lot, as by 4pm right here on the studio, I discover that I am all painted out”.

Extra element from Al’s sundown matte, with magnificent violet and cobalt hues receding into the gap.  Al was an absolute grasp of sunshine and it is impact, which was why a lot of his work was undetectable.

Subtle, but fairly labour intensive work as Al mentioned in 1981 whereas ending the matte work on HEARTBEEPS:  “I feel it is typically thought of that movie solely has a notion of 4 f-stops.  A digital camera has a relentless iris, except you might be altering that iris whereas capturing, there’s a sure fastened f-stop that limits the movie as we all know it in the present day, to about 4 f-stops.  The attention after all always has the iris going out and in when brighter or darker phenomena, so movie has to have a limitation.  The work must have that very same limitation.  Reaching into a really shady panorama, regardless to what’s on the sky, invariably it burns out that sky, so that is the limitation of movie”.

Albert continued:  “Our setting solar was performed with a light-weight.  Then we’ll fade the portray out and fade some overlays in, which I’ve already performed, of element, in order that the sunshine seems to be step by step going off of the timber.  For the broader grasp shot an actual tree was blue screened into the left nook, with daylight taking part in on the gently shifting foliage.  The clouds within the sky will probably be shifting utilizing gentle splits, so the motion taking part in over the portray will lend a better sense of realism – it will be extra persuasive .  The sky strikes virtually imperceptibly, but when it did not, the entire thing would possibly look static”.
Albert demonstrates the style by which acetate cel overlays will promote the completed shot:  “The overlay of element on timber, fading simply barely, earlier than the portray itself fades – a really small matter, however sufficient so as to add up, all in all, to a way more fascinating scene.  They could not get the shot for actual, so we return our 4 f-stops principle.  I am dishonest right here.  The sky would burn out in the event you noticed that a lot decrease element within the panorama, however since it is a portray I can cheat it a bit , and produce the tones extra collectively.  The sky will not burn out, or the decrease portion is not going to go into a complete silhouette, which might occur in the event you had been exposing expressly for the sky”.

Albert’s authentic on NZ Pete’s wall  🙂
The droids begin to query their place of their man-made confines and surprise what lies past…

Syd Dutton inside set extensions with a thunderstorm outdoors.  Very good interactive shadows of heavy rain seen inside the painted areas, presumably performed as animated cel overlays.
Breakdown exhibiting restricted extent of set and invisible additions painted in.
Body #1:  The storm subsides and the primary rays of daylight break by way of the clouds.  One other of Whitlock’s in depth mattes, with gentle cut up screened cloud motion, painted cel overlay animation for daylight and interactive mild hitting the valley flooring.

Body #2

Body #3

Body #4

Body #5

The film was directed by Allan Arkush – himself a most fascinating fellow.  Allan started his movie profession – together with pal Joe Dante – as trailer cutter for Roger Corman’s New World Photos within the 70’s.  Now, as a agency fan of ‘B’ footage and low grade exploitation flicks myself I am fairly aware of most all of these tacky flicks, and much more so with the extremely ‘in-your-face’ coming sights trailers for them that Allan and Joe concocted – each a mini masterpiece of lurid showmanship!  Breasts, bums; the identical explosion that appeared in a ton of trailers however by no means in any of these movies; shotgun blasting vigilantes, airplane decapitations, bikers and shackled Filipino chain gang gals…all packed into 3 wonderful minutes for titles like T.N.T JACKSON; CAGED HEAT; SAVAGE SISTERS; NAKED FIST and the unforgettably ‘Z’ grade BURY ME AN ANGEL: (“a howling hellcat humping a scorching metal hog, twisted by torment, a sadistic she-devil, main a pair of perverts on a roaring rampage of revenge”).  Classics none of my weblog readers would ever have heard of!  Particular point out right here for the voice actor of the CrimeBuster robotic in HEARTBEEPS who was voiced by former New World trailer narrator, the good Ron Gans – the all time king of bass-baritone trailer voice-over artistes, bar none!!  Each Allan and Joe impressed the hell out of Corman a lot that he gave them their very own characteristic to direct – as long as it value $10 bucks and got here in on time.  They made the great HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976) for pocket change by raiding the New World movie vaults and ‘re-purposing’ a ton of sequences from earlier Corman movies – all reveals they knew just like the again of their arms from their trailer work – and minimize into a wholly ‘new’ full size plot(!!)  It is a hoot, particularly if these quite a few ‘stolen’ sequences like I do.  That is in all probability way more data than any reader cares to know, however I did say that I are likely to drift off matter, did not I?

Subsequent shot is that this wonderful view of the entire valley in shiny daylight, full with drifting clouds.

Shut up

Though we solely get to see the daylight view by way of the manufacturing unit window, it is nonetheless a beautiful shot.  Observe the addition of rainbows painted onto a separate glass and presumably superimposed after the filming of the cloud gentle splits as a separate run by way of Invoice’s matte digital camera.  The foreground set was then mixed as a blue display screen travelling matte to the work.

Albert units a matte in digital camera with the help of Michael Moramarco – a very long time member of Common’s matte division stretching again to the Ross Hoffman period and very early Whitlock tenure.

An exquisite vista of the robotic manufacturing unit off within the distance, as painted by Albert, with the matte extending as far down because the decrease tree line.  Crystal clear picture constancy as Al was the world’s greatest advocate of authentic adverse latent picture matte pictures, which is why all of them look so good.  Lovely sense of backlight – a phenomena I’ve at all times cherished about his work, which was Al’s forte, and an asset I are likely to really feel he doubtless picked up from the good Peter Ellenshaw whereas at Disney.

Among the many oddball characters – each human and ‘bucket-of-bolts’ within the flick, was the great idea of getting a stand-up comedian android – as one does, with Catskill (high left) being simply such a mechanical jokester.  Catskill’s continuous one liners had been written by actual life Borsch Belt comedian Henny Youngman, and voiced right here by Jack Carter – full with auto ‘drum roll & cymbal ding’ for every witticism!

Now, as a lifelong film buff, with pursuits in ALL features of the sport, I’ve at all times had an incredible respect for the appearing career, and none extra so than what can be termed ‘character actors’.  So many nice movies through the years are memorable not only for the lead gamers however extra so for the small half character actors (I may title 100 such!).  HEARTBEEPS hit bullseye with a number of small roles performed by tried and true nice character actors.  Prime left: Randy (Midnight Specific) Quaid with Kenneth (The Taking of Pelham 123) McMillan.  Prime proper: the legendary one among a form Dick (The Terminator) Miller.  Backside left: the at all times memorable Mary (Demise Race 2000) Woronov.  Backside proper: the extremely gifted director-actor-writer Paul (Consuming Raoul) Bartel.  Additionally within the flick are dependable outdated professional’s Kathleen (Blues Brothers) Freeman and Richard B.(The Anderson Tapes) Schull in small stroll ons.

A matte that many missed, of the spare elements wrecking yard of outdated robots.  Observe:  rotoscope work evident as the 2 robots heads cross above the matte demarcation line, with Kaufman’s head being barely translucent for a number of frames.
Albert’s portray for the robotic junkyard scene.  The very contrasty timber might have been maintain outs for individually painted tree texture, although why go to the difficulty, I do not know.

A curiosity right here.  This can be a thriller glass portray rendered by Syd Dutton, which all indications counsel was made for a sequence that landed on the reducing room flooring.  Syd did nevertheless recall portray one thing related for a television industrial which featured a robotic rebel or some such.

Now, this late within the narrative shot proved most fascinating, and was a trick shot I would by no means seen till this latest re-evaluation on BluRay.  On a number of repeat rewinds I felt compelled to query the view as a possible matte composite.  I requested Syd, who was pretty certain it was an everyday manufacturing shot.  We begged to vary, so we requested Tom Higginson if there was any archived proof come what may.  See under…

…and right here it’s.  Mark Whitlock painted this apparently fast, although completely efficient rendering on glass which slotted in properly with the placement footage above.  Observe, the characters seen far off atop the hillside within the completed scene will need to have been doubled in as a bi-pack component, or might have been a cel overlay animation gag?  Syd, my pal… you owe Pete a beer  😉

Particular make up designer Stan Winston (proper) with affiliate Zoltan Elak.
Dreadful different ad-campaign by Common to attempt to promote an admittedly tough launch.  Oh, and that ‘Crimebuster’ there’s the one voiced by the good Ron Gans – trash drive-in trailer voice over artiste bar none!  As an apart, Ron did some nice parody trailers for John Landis’ KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, with the hilariously unforgettable ‘Catholic Excessive College Women In Hassle’ and the pseudo Hebrew-blaxploitation spoof ‘Cleopatra Schwarz’…. although, as typical, I digress.


Time for a definite change of tempo right here.  CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER (1951) was a wonderful, large price range interval motion journey filled with particular results, with a variety of technicians credited, and no less than one essential artistic particular person omitted utterly!

Though a Warner Bros launch, it was in actual fact fully filmed in the UK, although with a mixture of British and American staffers.

As grand a title opener as one may count on, although the 4 SFX males credited all deserved kudos, a reputation missed out right here actually was an unlucky omission, as we will uncover…
The results workforce was cut up between Brit consultants and skilled profession People.  Proven listed below are the 2 English mechanical & miniature results supervisors, the legendary Cliff Richardson (left) and George Blackwell (proper).  Cliff – pictured right here in 1951 finessing a set off gag to one of many miniature cannons for CAPT HORNBLOWER – was thought of the grandfather of bodily and mannequin results within the British trade, having entered it round 1923.  He would spend quite a lot of his profession working at Ealing Studios, amongst others, and have become one of the crucial revered technicians within the enterprise.  Cliff’s son John adopted in his footsteps and himself turned one among Britain’s most in demand consultants.  George Blackwell was one other very well-known mannequin specialist within the UK trade, with many years of employment at Rank-Pinewood and different studios the place he displayed a particular skill with hanging miniatures and plane.  George’s work on the nonetheless good WWII true story DAMBUSTERS noticed him obtain an Oscar nomination.  The pic right here reveals George with one among his miniatures for the movie YANGZE INCIDENT.
One other essential contributor to the movie, and an uncredited one at that, was the remarkably gifted Peter Ellenshaw.  This movie was one among a number of Peter painted for between his years with mentor Poppa Day at Denham and his subsequent worthwhile tenure with Disney on the UK productions and past.

The good Peter Ellenshaw at work in varied intervals of his lengthy profession as premier matte artist.  The underside left pic is within the matte room on THE BLACK HOLE whereas the underside proper photograph is a thriller to me, as it’s to Peter’s son Harrison.  It is stamped with the Disney brand so have to be one among their reveals like IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS or 20’000 LEAGUES?  Although it may even be from CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER, although not a Disney movie, the foreground glass painted sky over a mannequin tank arrange is most fascinating.

The opening shot is this glorious Ellenshaw matte portray – with outdated crusing ships being a specialty of Peter’s for a time along with his gallery artwork.

Together with Cliff and George, two American results guys had been on board, so to talk.  Veteran mechanical results skilled Harry Barndollar had a really lengthy profession in trick work, having began off as an artist rendering title work for silents way back to 1918.  Harry later discovered gainful employment in bodily results at Warner Bros and labored on miniatures at Paramount for WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE amongst others.  CAPT. HORNBLOWER was Harry’s ultimate movie.  Additionally on results was Arthur Rhoades who, amongst different movies, constructed the life sized mechanical dinosaur heads for the Irwin Allen extravaganza ANIMAL WORLD.
Though the very good sea-going sequences all have the looks of being shot in precise ocean environs, they had been all, most surprisingly, filmed in a big specifically constructed tank at Denham Studios outdoors of London

Peter Ellenshaw has painted the set right here from simply above the doorways on upward.

A tremendous instance of miniaturisation and mechanics right here, with not solely a splendid mannequin sail ship in tow, however mannequin rowboats full with automated puppets working the oars.  Prime notch.

Extra splendid Ellenshaw matte artwork right here – all extremely atmospheric.  A later scene makes use of the identical primary portray, although with an altered sky and completely different ship on the horizon (see under…)

Similar portray, re-jigged for 2 completely different scenes.

I am pretty certain this can be a miniature with a skillfully matted in decrease space with actor clambering on board beneath the duvet of darkness.

A observe up shot from similar sequence, which whereas it may be a mock up ship on the stage, I are likely to assume some matting has been executed right here as a consequence of ever so slight depth of subject focus points.

Reverse view from similar scene, which as soon as once more I really feel is a really effectively mixed cut up display screen of both a miniature or matte artwork?  Very spectacular, as are all of HORNBLOWER’S trick pictures.

Now right here people is one very daring visible results shot courtesy of Peter Ellenshaw.  A multi-element trick shot comprising precise sea with rowboat, an intensive matte portray of the ship and different particulars, and a really cleverly mixed dwell motion component inserted into Peter’s portray comprising of the deck of the ship and the actors – shot on a sound stage.  All in all, some braveness right here in producing this shot.  I could also be flawed, however I vaguely recall perhaps Alan Hume – the esteemed future D.O.P – might have been Peter’s matte cameraman right here (or Les Ostinelli)?

Earlier than and after.
Two half comp, with Denham tank foreground, and what I am certain is Ellenshaw’s painted distant ship and sky matted in.

Presumably miniature simply earlier than the shootin’ begins.

Tank and glass portray once more.

In creator John Brosnan’s completely indispensable e-book, Film Magic (an absolute should!), Cliff Richardson described intimately engaged on the mannequin results for this movie.  “When my contract with Alexander Korda expired, I went free-lance.  On the time I used to be about the one free-lance fx man within the enterprise.  The primary movie I labored on was CAPT. HORATIO HORNBLOWER RN in 1951 for Warner Bros.  We spent eight months on that.  It was made at three completely different studios – at Teddington, when Teddington was the UK Warner Bros. studio; at EMI, which was then Related British Photos, and likewise at Denham Studios.  All of the miniatures had been shot at Denham.  Truly, the place had simply folded, Rank had moved out, and we had been the one image capturing in there”.

Cliff continues:  “We spent a few months up at what they name ‘metropolis sq.’ on the Denham lot capturing all of the miniatures in an infinite tank that they constructed only for the image.  It was a giant tank by any requirements – some 300 toes lengthy by 200 toes large and 6 toes deep.  The person accountable was Peter Duco, who is sort of a well-known development supervisor.  The tank was made from timber, and the ground and inside partitions had been coated with asphalt”.

A number of the finest marine mannequin work ever performed for my part.  All fantastically staged and shot – and out in daylight which makes all of the distinction.  Extra recollections from Cliff Richardson:  “We had rostrums constructed throughout the edges of the tank, for the numerous wind machines that had been able to 12’000 horse energy.  However we’d begin a shot of our miniature fleet crusing majestically down the tank with the sails billowing fantastically from the wind created by these machines and a slight pure breeze would come from the wrong way and blow the sails inside out, which ruined our shot”.

Cannonballs fireplace from all sides…

Cliff Richardson:  “It was a nasty summer season that 12 months with plenty of rain, and our capturing was typically delayed.  Scenes with mannequin ships, for my part, current a number of the best issues.  The density of the water shouldn’t be proportionate to the dimensions of the fashions so we’ve to place wetting brokers into the tank to cut back floor pressure”.

On scale, the fashions had been substantial:  “Our mannequin ships in HORNBLOWER had been constructed on fairly a big scale – they averaged some thirty toes lengthy and carried forty sq. toes of sail.  We had three males on every ship.  Their job was to deal with the auxiliary engines – we needed to have engines to provide the fashions extra velocity as we had been filming with excessive velocity cameras – and likewise to fireplace the weapons and tack the sails”.

Mayhem at sea within the Denham miniatures tank.  In his 1974 interview Richardson elaborated:  “I at all times keep in mind at the moment we hadn’t acquired round to utilizing squibs – these little explosive costs that we now use for blowing holes in material and bullet hits.  So, we discovered one of the simplest ways to create the impact of a cannonball going by way of the sails was by utilizing peculiar quantity 6 detonators.  I had metal plates made to go excessive of the results guys within the maintain, however on some days it was extremely popular climate and I at all times used to make a degree of shouting out ‘Are you chaps coated up?’, earlier than I fired this stuff, and they might say ‘Sure’, whether or not they had been or not.  I keep in mind that a number of of them acquired hit by fragments of copper from the detonators exploding within the sails.  Nothing that severe, however they typically had the unit nurse selecting items of copper out of their backs.”

The sprawling 18th Century harbour crammed with vessels is a Peter Ellenshaw matte shot with extra painted than you’d assume.

Richardson spoke of the Denham tank:  “The tank was dismantled after the image.  Most large tanks are constructed open air however there’s one large indoor one at Shepperton”. Cliff’s then very younger son John recalled visiting the particular results tank as a child, with a crew member taking the boy throughout the miniatures tank in a rowboat to see the sailboat fashions – which presumably stoked the trick shot blood flowing by way of his veins.  John recalled the massive and noisy system his dad was utilizing to lend life like waves to the tank work:  “He acquired three Mosquito airplanes from the RAF – they’d a number of they weren’t utilizing any extra.  He chopped their wings off and mounted the remaining plane our bodies on inflexible frames which had been firmly connected to the bottom.  Cliff then employed three RAF mechanics to really run the engines”. 

Extra very good miniature work.

An important miniature is just nearly as good because it’s fx cinematographer.

Mixture pictures utilizing mannequin set ups and star Gregory Peck added in by way of travelling matte, presumably as blue display screen, although England was very large on yellow backing sodium composites in all probability round then, with Rank main the sport.

Cannonballs all over the place courtesy of Cliff Richardson’s tiny explosive units and cautious timing.

One other trick shot as rendered with oil paints on glass by grasp matte artist Peter Ellenshaw.  Nearly all of this shot has been fabricated in Peter’s matte studio.

Carnage, and an insurance coverage nightmare for Lloyds of London.

The closing shot is, as soon as once more, a whole fabrication – fully painted, together with the person with the telescope – with simply the fluttering flag being an precise dwell component added in later.


I am an enormous Western film fan ever since I used to be a child, and it is a pleasure to find one which I’ve by no means heard of, and, is an efficient present, and, has ample matte work in addition

A ‘Fox’ movie – earlier than they turned twentieth Century Fox – WILD GIRL (1932) was extremely promoted for it is ‘all on location’ manufacturing at Nice Forest Sequoia Nationwide Park, although in reality, a substantial quantity of grandeur happened by way of matte and glass pictures.

Between takes on WILD GIRL
No FX credit score, although more than likely supervised by both Fred Sersen or Ralph Hammeras – each formative trick shot exponents at Fox, and every immensley gifted in all features of film magic, from matte portray and opticals to mannequin pictures.  The pic in center is an outdated snapshot taken on the Fox again lot with Sersen standing up entrance, as his crew of matte painters work on three huge glass pictures.  It is fairly attainable these work had been made for this movie?  The man at proper is very long time Fox matte artist Fitch Fulton – the daddy of well-known results man John P. Fulton.  Fitch had painted stunning mattes for an earlier Fox western, the epic 65mm basic THE BIG TRAIL (1930), so it is extremely doubtless he labored on WILD GIRL as effectively.

Opening shot is a really large pan, starting on this view the place your entire higher half of the set has been prolonged as a glass shot.  See under…

The total pan, performed as a collection of painted glasses, aspect by aspect, and disguised with posts and bits of foreground structure – an outdated trick that Sersen’s division would excel at in numerous movies.

Once more, painted rooftops and redwood forest.

The form of glass shot one would by no means discover, and will need to have been fairly tough, with the painted extension masking extra of the set than one would possibly count on.  Observe, the raised hand of ‘froggie voiced’ character actor Eugene Pallette which vanishes by way of the portray.  See under…

Similar sequence, with man waving his hat by way of the matte line.

Begin body of one other very large pan throughout the city, presumably a again lot set, augmented significantly with matte artwork.  See under…

The large pan with a number of painted glasses arrange on the Fox lot, with posts concealing the glass edge helps.

The slightly delectable Joan Bennett – the Wild Lady of the title, in all her pre-code honesty.

Matte or glass shot right here.

Glass shot.  Observe simply how little of that massive tree was really ‘constructed’ as a prop, with the matte line simply above the doorway, with the remaining on upward all paintings.

I am of the opinion that almost all or all the trick pictures had been performed on set as in digital camera foreground glass pictures versus composite pictures mattes because of the fixed steadiness of all the painted pictures, with no discernible digital camera ‘jiggle’.

Just like the aforementioned THE BIG TRAIL, this movie too benefitted enormously from matte work.  One other matte artist who labored within the early Sersen matte division was Russ Lawson, so he might have been on WILD GIRL as effectively, earlier than finally becoming a member of Common.

Mattes and basic trick work from this period has at all times me, and my private favorite decade for matte pictures and imaginative results work was the 1940’s.  

I feel the period had a sure palpable sense of romanticism within the matte work that was fairly applicable with movie making approaches of the day.

As a lot because the studio would have you ever consider, not all the spectacular locales had been real.

My favorite shot within the movie, the place by shut examination it seems that virtually all the shot has been painted, with only a small unpainted a part of the glass permitting the horseman to journey by, although it cuts simply earlier than he passes by way of the painted tree.

The hero will get the gal… and what a gal, they usually saunter off into the painted sundown.


The epic French-Spanish co-production, SHEHERAZADE (1963) was a lavish and fantastically made costumer, retelling the age outdated tales of the Arabian Nights.  The stunning Anna Karina stars, together with a big combined European forged with names reminiscent of Fernando Rey.  Clearly cash was spent right here, with the manufacturing being lensed in 70mm ‘SuperPanorama’ no much less.

The movie options a variety of matte pictures, made as foreground work and hanging partial miniatures courtesy of one of many greats within the visible results area, the legendary Spanish maestro, Emilio Ruiz del Rio.  Emilio labored on fx and typically manufacturing design as effectively for round 400 films all through his very lengthy profession, with a number of large Hollywood productions utilizing his abilities and actually lots of of European movies and television reveals.  The photographs right here aren’t from SHEHERAZADE, however are supposed as an instance Emilio’s strategies on different productions.

Emilio, pictured right here on the set, decrease center (on the appropriate, subsequent to artwork director Enrique Salva) was the undisputed grasp with prime quality matte pictures, normally rendered in-camera as suspended foreground work – normally performed on aluminium or wooden, and typically on glass.  Right here we are able to  see his in depth painted ‘high up’ of the Arabian metropolis set, in all probability in-built Spain or at a studio reminiscent of Cinecitta in Rome maybe.  

Emilio’s matte as accomplished and shot all in-camera and on the unique adverse with the dwell motion.

A following shot, made as a slight pan throughout.  The nasty trying spiked submit at proper conceals Ruiz’ rigging supporting his matte extension.

One other very spectacular vista courtesy of the immensely gifted Emilio Ruiz.  Among the many 400 odd movies he labored on had been DUNE, THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, RED SONYA, SOLOMON AND SHEBA, EL CID, CLEOPATRA and THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD to call however a handful.

Prime photograph from SHEHERAZADE, whereas the opposite two are from CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS and DESERT OF FIRE, each of which illustrate the strategies he employed so efficiently for the reason that mid 1940 by way of to, nearly, the tip of his life aged in his eighties. 

A distinct view of town, although the considerably obtrusive ‘submit’ within the mid body – holding up the big and weighty matte panel – was just a little unlucky.

I am pretty sure that almost all readers right here won’t ever have heard of this movie, with it not being effectively distributed outdoors of Europe.

Flawlessly rendered historic metropolis atop a hill as seen from the method in a key sequence.  The massive rock is concealing Emilio’s help system.

The identical metropolis on the hill as seen in a reverse angle, simply after the shit has actually hit the fan, and the desert is suffering from the ‘metabolically challenged’ (give it some thought… it is intelligent!)  Observe the ever current ‘submit/impediment’, in addition to a good proportion of lifeless being matte artwork too!

As a aspect observe, the movie had some fairly stunning nudity for a 1963 flick – one thing fairly the norm in Europe however would have seen censors reaching for his or her scissors elsewhere!
Anna Karina…. want we are saying extra?


MGM’s lush, large price range Technicolor remake of the outdated silent basic, SCARAMOUCHE (1952) was successful movie of the day, thanks in no small half to it is profitable casting.

The movie comprises a dozen matte pictures, made beneath the steely eye of Metro’s matte division boss, the eccentric Warren Newcombe.  This illuminating earlier than and after is a superb instance of the unimaginable expertise inside Newcombe’s very secretive matte division.

The fairly splendid ultimate shot in all its Technicolor greatness.

Right here we’ve one other uncommon earlier than and after utilizing one of many standing units on one of many huge MGM again tons which actually had been a magical kingdom again within the glory days earlier than it was all finally bulldozed and bought off to grasping actual property tycoons.

The ultimate shot.  I really like learning the outdated MGM mattes simply to attempt to spot the usually extremely effectively built-in matte line.  It is seen right here, however as a rule, Newcombe’s chief matte cameraman, Mark Davis, did wonders in mixing issues collectively to perfection, normally with gentle splits operating by way of the least doubtless elements of the shot.

One among MGM’s matte artwork specialties had been these huge, grand Royal Courts, elegant ballrooms or spectacular opera home interiors.

For many years, Newcombe’s division had been very lively in rendering their mattes utilizing very tremendous pastel crayons over goache – typically with pen and ink tremendous work.  This portray appears to be a wholly ‘painted’ matte utilizing extra generally utilized strategies, ie brush and pigments.  It is a close to full body matte with only a tiny slot of dwell motion doubled in on the high between two timber.  See under…

Right here we’ve a incredible picture of that authentic portray, which is within the assortment of a fellow matte shot fanatic and pal of mine, positioned in Germany.

Shut up element of matted space.  I do not know which medium they used right here – oils or water based mostly pigment?  It has an ‘oil’ look to it from my observations from afar.

Extra element in shut up…  Thanks a lot for these pics TT.  🙂

Element of tower.  Primarily based on the 2 MGM mattes that I personal, they had been typically fairly small in dimension, and at all times painted on thick artists’ card, which allowed simple drilling out or cutaway gags for sure pictures as required reminiscent of glittering theatre marquee neons and the like.  

MGM had the most important matte division round this time, with a variety of artists coming and going through the years.  Key matte artists had been Howard Fisher and Henry Hillink, with Lou Litchtenfield, Henry Peter McDermott, Irving Block, Norman Daybreak and others.

The motion packed climax takes place in a packed grand opera home throughout a efficiency, the place our swashbuckling hero, Stewart Granger, pits his rapier towards dangerous man Mel Ferrer.  A number of matte work are featured exhibiting the setting from varied vantage factors as they slug it out.  Noteworthy right here as about half the body is painted in, with many rigorously chosen ‘slot gags’ – that’s, tiny minimize away holes inside the plenty of painted individuals – the place a shifting interference gadget behind the portray is illuminated and this ‘distraction’ lends a way of ‘motion’ to the in any other case static, pretend viewers.  An outdated gag however one in fixed use proper by way of to the very finish of the so-called ‘conventional period’ of matting.

Stay motion backside stalls and first row balcony, with all above being painted in, together with the columns, curtains and two different balconies of viewers.

Extra of the identical sequence.


Common Studios picked up a number of of those Japanese monster reveals within the sixties and distributed dubbed variations of them with new American footage spliced in.  I used to be a agency fanatic for Forry Ackerman’s nice Well-known Monsters of Filmland, and took nice delight within the beneficiant pictorial protection of each Nippon Monster flick.  In truth, I nonetheless possess a horde of historic scrapbooks crammed with pics minimize out of FM and different related mags from the early 1970’s.

KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1963) was one among an infinite parade of Japanese-guy-in-a-monster-suit- stomping-on-Tokyo epics that rapidly turned slightly tiresome.

Eiji Tsuburaya was the extraordinarily busy Japanese movie trade’s go-to man for something ‘particular’ or ‘trick shot’ associated.  The native trade there, in addition to the massive movie going public, had monumental admiration for Eiji, who attained one thing virtually of a cult standing.

A slightly good matte painted shot right here.  Lots of the Japanese sci-fi movies had some good matte work, although by no means credited.  Akira Watanabe was normally the visible results artwork director on these, so might have had a hand within the matte portray work?

The story principally copies the outdated basic KING KONG, proper all the way down to the Cranium Island wall and a bunch of misguided natives.

Matte painted environs might have influenced Peter Jackson right here in NZ for his model of Cranium Island?

Explorers take to the mountain path in an virtually fully matte painted shot.

I am unable to recall what the enormous squid needed to do with the situation, however right here he’s with blue screened in natives all getting wayyyyy too shut.

Did not I let you know to face effectively again from this tentacled bastard.

Truly fairly efficient, performed with wire work and puppets.

Sundown painted in.

Practice journey disruption on a monster scale!  There will probably be a brief disruption to our scheduled service.  Sidenote-  I used to be in London as soon as, on the fabulous underground, and never far forward apparently, an individual was really run over by a prepare!   The punchline was, that in true understated British trend, an announcement came to visit the intercom alongside the traces of “Piccadilly line disruption as a passenger had taken in poor health”.  No, I am not making this up!
Chosen motion set items and behind the scenes miniature stage at Toho.  Though Eiji already had been concerned in cinematography in silent Japanese cinema, and had a thirst for experimentation with issues like a number of exposures and primary trick results, it was an opportunity viewing in Kyoto of the basic KING KONG in 1933 that firmly left an indelible impression on the younger movie maker, because it did with so many others within the worldwide film trade – and rightly so.

KONGZILLA – the battle of the Century… or no less than until Toho make one more carbon copy.  Observe the behind the scenes photograph exhibiting the total miniature stage intimately.
I at all times discovered the monster stuff in this stuff a tad boring, however at all times loved the miniature work, with Tsuburaya’s mannequin makers being extraordinarily expert (and extremely productive), always churning out model new props, buildings, automobiles, cities and landmarks.

One large disadvantage was capturing this stuff beneath synthetic mild versus pure mild, and worst of all, an excessive amount of zoom lens utilization which instantly killed the shot as soon as the depth of subject was buggered.

The one I keep in mind seeing typically as a child was KING KONG ESCAPES, which at all times appeared to be exhibiting on one double characteristic or one other at Saturday matinees right here in Auckland.  Will need to have seen that one a dozen instances, as soon as with ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS as I recall.

In an interview, Eiji recalled:  “Once I began to work at Toho, it was 1939.  On the time I used to be the one individual within the particular strategies division.  Not solely that, however methods had been thought of to be high secret, so I could not get any assist with particular results.  There was nobody to rely on however myself.  The standard individuals within the studio had been detached towards me. I needed to get into the studio secretly”.

The Japanese made a bunch of slightly good science fiction yarns, with issues like LATITUDE ZERO being particularly good and crying out for a good BluRay version.
A number of behind the scenes snapshots of Toho’s particular results workforce at work on varied productions within the 1960’s.
Most of this view is a matte painted shot.

“It wasn’t the Mitsubishi Zero’s that acquired him.  It was Geisha who killed the beast”

Very good and atmospheric painted Mt Fuji.  I went there in 2015.  Nice nation, Japan.

Mannequin coastal city in calmer instances.  One among my favorite Japanese results movies was the out-of-this-world fx heavy epic BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (1959), which contained so many results sequences and a few daring and wild motion set items.

Nice element work, although I’ve a nasty feeling about these two duelling big beasts up on the hilltop!

Do not say I did not warn you…

Down-scaling water is among the most problematic features to miniature shoots.

The huge torrent washes down the hillside…

The village is swallowed up, and as soon as once more the insurance coverage pay out for all of the wreckage is simply sufficient to satisfy the price range of the subsequent Japanese ‘stomping monster film’.


I’ve coated a variety of these Maria Montez-Jon Corridor ‘sarong’ adventures in different blogs, with this one, WHITE SAVAGE (1943) being just about manufacturing line run-of-the-mill fare.

Strictly minor stuff – manly shark hunter falls for unique South Sea island princess, with Indian boy sidekick alongside to stability issues out.

The gorgeous Maria Montez made a profession at Common taking part in the identical roles time and again, till her early and sudden dying put a halt to her reputation.  She was Uni’s reply to the way more gifted and drop lifeless horny Dorothy Lamour over at Paramount, who had far wider vary over and past the dozen or so ‘jungle princess’ she starred in.
The uncredited particular results had been created by one of many trade greats – John P. Fulton.  John was a 3 time Oscar winner for finest visible results, and was answerable for a variety of the perfect results sequences of all time such because the tiny individuals in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, the landmark work in THE INVISIBLE MAN, the parting of the Crimson Sea in DeMille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, the large results present THE NAKED JUNGLE and one among my all time faves, the exceptional transformation in SON OF DRACULA the place somebody turns to wisps of smoke and permeates the bars of a jail cell (a lot higher than it sounds)!!
The movie has a handful of matte pictures by Russell Lawson and an earthquake sequence on the climax.  This shot is after all extensively painted, with the dwell motion in all probability shot on the studio lake at Common.

Extra Lawson matte work.  I’ve mentioned Russ earlier than, however as a refresher, after a brief stint at Columbia and Fox, he was Common’s matte painter for a number of many years, from the 1930’s by way of to round 1962 or so the place Al Whitlock took over the division.

The third of the three Lawson matte pictures.  Ross Hoffman would have photographed and composited these, as Common’s very lengthy serving fx cinematographer from round 1930 and throughout to the mid 70’s Whitlock period.

For the earth shaking climax, John Fulton supervised the miniature destruction and did a tremendous job at that.  John had a nasty status sadly for being extraordinarily tough to work with (The late Invoice Taylor as soon as advised me that he’d by no means met anybody who had an excellent phrase to say for Fulton, which he discovered so unhappy because the man was an enormous expertise).  

Fulton was, nevertheless, multi-talented.  He was expert with miniatures, optical composite cinematography and pyrotechnics.  

Taking pictures fashions outdoors in precise daylight was at all times an excellent resolution, and John did simply that, with the outcomes paying dividends when minimize into the completed image.

Charlie Baker was Fulton’s miniatures skilled, and he additionally held a protracted profession within the subject at Common, once more, proper by way of to the late 1970’s.  Apparently, Charlie was one of many few personnel who acquired together with Fulton with out confrontation.

The miniature will need to have been fairly a good scale, because the demolition regarded nice.

Fred Knoth was a key veteran mechanical results man at Common for a very long time as effectively, so might have had a hand on this. Fred had been with Hal Roach Studios for years, engaged on issues like ONE MILLION B.C and plenty of Laurel and Hardy footage earlier than coming to Common in 1942 the place he remained for many years, working large reveals like LAND UNKNOWN and John Wayne’s very spectacular oil effectively firefighter actioner THE HELLFIGHTERS.

John Fulton left Common for Samuel Goldwyn Photos round 1944, with John’s very long time optical fx assistant David Stanley Horsley assuming management.  Fulton solely stayed on a few years with Goldwyn then took up a headship over at Paramount.  John died fairly out of the blue within the mid 1960’s whereas starting miniature results design for THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN – a dream mission os his.


***This submit, and all 179 earlier weblog posts often called ‘Matte Shot’, had been initially created by Peter Cook dinner for nzpetesmatteshot, with all content material, format and textual content initially revealed at http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/

Properly, that is about it for an additional submit…

I hope it was each fulfilling, informative and even a tad irreverent at instances.  Any feedback and suggestions is at all times tremendously appreciated.


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