Aside from the standard matte paintings and miniatures, of which there are several, the picture has some incredible optical transitions and kaleidoscope styled visuals to tell the story. What impressed me most was an amazing one take sequence where George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor stroll out of church and across a busy street totally immersed in one another with fast moving traffic wizzing around them, with the single take continuing for over a minute and gradually dissolving from the hectic urban chaos into a beautiful orchard like setting of utter serenity. Now to modern audiences weened on this awful in your face mind battering CGI, this 1927 sequence will surely not be of interest. When one takes into consideration the fact that the entire uninterrupted set piece is a complicated optical effect, and a beautifully orchestrated and assembled one at that, even the CGI freaks may sit up and take notice. I'll elaborate on this sequence below.
The effects work was by an uncredited Frank Williams - a genuine pioneer in special photographic effects and optical cinematography and the inventor of a moving matting system for motion pictures. I would not be at all surprised to learn that soon to be master effects man John P.Fulton also may have worked on this film as he was Williams apprentice at this time in Williams effects house. A very young assistant cameraman by the name of Lenwood Ballard Abbott - better known later as L.B Abbott was also on the camera crew.
|Part of the elaborate montage of cross fades and optical transitions that open the story - and very well done they are too, with as many as five individual elements in a single shot from what I could observe.|
|A superb blu ray grab of the famous Schufftan shot described above.|
|The above frames from a particularly hypnotic brass band segement with lots of movement and multiple exposures presumably done all in camera with rewind and multiple takes. Fabulous bit of film this.|
|Two of the matte shots seen in "SUNRISE" with moving clouds above and perfect registration of city painting below, possibly suggesting a foreground glass painting done on set.|
|Optical effects pioneer Frank Williams seen here with a family member.|
|A really impressive storm sequence with excellent animation overlays of lightning and terrific full scale tank effects. If there was process projection it was damned good and utterly perfect match up.|
|Final scene and what I'm fairly sure would be a painted sky and moon.|