In putting this blog together, I have, as is my personality quirk, gone way beyond my intended five or six film examples and found that I have so much material that I'll need to break this topic into 2 or maybe 3 separate blog articles - depending upon the interest and feedback I receive. I
'm forever conscious of overloading my blog storage allowance (if there is such a thing) and the "Blogger" outfit sending me a terse note stating that I'm out of control and need to limit my jpegs, seek psychiatric help and get a real job or they'll confiscate my matte shots, or some such thing.
I've got several terrific old Warren Newcombe MGM mattes here today, mostly from the 40's such as CROSS OF LORRAINE, some never before seen Matthew Yuricich paintings from a couple of 80's shows such as THE THORN BIRDS, two utterly gorgeous and pristine original Shepperton mattes painted in 1961 by Bob Cuff for the film GUNS OF NAVARONE, a couple of invisible Doug Ferris glass paintings from THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET as well as a few others from other studios as well, all of which are guaranteed to delight, thrill and work up the fx enthusiast into a state of near sensual arousal...... Gee, I've gotta seek professional help......fast!
|I assure you the scribble says Whorf, and not 'Whore' as it appears!|
Director Richard Whorf's name is inscribed across the bottom of the painting which suggests to me that the present incarnation of this matte with 'Midnight Girl' across the marquee probably came after the Whorf picture. The matte is painted in what appears to be goache directly applied onto artists board and I'm so glad I own this as it is a living breathing special effect just as is.
|reverse side of the matte with gels.|
|the same basic painting modified.|
|bottom-the theatre lights backlit|
I find this painting to be just wonderful, and I'm so happy to have a piece of not just matte painting history, but Newcombe's MGM department in my home.
|As with all of these images, click on them for a large image.|
|Intricate detail of the chain, fence and foliage.|
|Bob Cuff test comp, though in final release is printed way down!|
|Quite a few of the mattes here had to be scaled down significantly from huge files for blogger purposes.|
|remember, most of these images may be double clicked to produce a very large image.|
Harrison Ellenshaw, or Peter S. Ellenshaw, junior as he was known at the time, contributed several mattes to outside productions during his Disney era in the 70's, with this one, the Nicholas Roeg masterpiece THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1975) being one such job, and if reports are to be believed, one Ellenshaw himself was never too happy with.
|Harrison's sky is not unlike his father Peter's many Ireland themed gallery paintings from the 1970's|
|The 'tight' style here is interesting to compare with the 'loose' style of Al Whitlock below.|
|As was the case for decades, mattes were almost always architecturally precise illustrations with every detail drawn in.|
|Close up detail from one of the CROSS OF LORRAINE matte paintings produced at MGM in 1943.|
Another of the numerous Doug Ferris mattes recently recovered was this grand full painting for SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997) - and interestingly, one which was commissioned at the very last minute after the planned digital effects shot failed to meet up to the director's expectations. This is widely regarded as being possibly the last traditional matte painted effect in the UK. The shot consisted of a telescope POV which sweeps across the village.
|Doug Ferris's original glass painting which was stored in the Magic Camera Company stage at Shepperton.|
|Glorious, methodical detail - and all for a shot that sweeps past, semi-obscured in a brief 4 seconds.|
|All of the Ferris paintings I've had the privilege to view have extensive, detailed layout drawing evident.|
|Close detail from an unidentified Jan Domela Paramount matte painting, probably from the 1930's.|
|The sprawling night cityscape of THE FLASH - courtesy of the brush of Richard Kilroy.|
|Detail from Kilroy's painting.|
|An area of Kilroy's painting detail and highlights.|
|My, now this is a matte I'd love to own! Just take a look at that sky.|
|As is my aim this blog, here's the OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES artistry for your enjoyment and education|
Easier said than done folks! Little did I know that this show was in fact a seven and a half hour arse-numbing, marathon must see for insomniacs, snooze fest with the two Yuricich paintings only occurring at about hour SIX - and both appearing back to back in one sequence. I feel like I've lost a part of my life that I'll never get back again.
|Matthew Yuricich glass painting|
|schematic diagram especially made for this blog by David Stipes.|
Typically in situations such as those demonstrated here David would go to location to shoot the plate, and once processed the editor would select the appropriate take. A low contrast registration positive colour print would then be projected onto translucent screen positioned behind a sheet of unprimed glass (as per the diagram above), whereby Stipes would trace off the projected image onto the glass and then pass it over to Matthew who would proceed with the painting side of things. The art side of it would take around 7-10 days, depending upon the complexity of the shot, with a 2 week turnaround being about average for this sort of matte.
Although much of the Stipes Productions matte comp output was done as original negative compositing, these two shots were put together with rear projection process, a technique favoured at the time by Jim Danforth for matte shots as well as at Disney Studios especially.
|Dennis Lowe's motion control set up|
|Bob Skotak's vast and impressive space station painted matte from ALIENS|
|Close up detail of the above matte.|
|The advertising billboards that were such a bone of contention for Michael Lloyd and his team of matte artists.|
|The overall design campaign for DICK TRACY was one of some genius to this commentator.|
|Utterly invisible MGM trickery with virtually the entire shot painted in the matte department as shown below.|
|The country house painting - one of those 'junked mattes' that made it's way into Gary Moore's collection.|
|Close up detail of the window area with partial, careful cutaway to facilitate a backlit gag.|
|Matte artist Bill Mather at left confers with effects cinematographer Craig Barron on BATMAN RETURNS|
|At left is the original live action plate, and right, Whitlock's composite minus the Ub Iwerks sodium matted in foreground|
|Mickey Rourke and pal on billboard scaffold.|
|Beautiful LA as per Rocco's brushes.|
The action was simple, just two guys kicking back some cold suds on the scaffolding of one of those big freeway signs after a tough day with psycho drug dealers etc. I recall Rocco mentioning this shot as one that was easier to shoot as a matte as opposed to doing it for real over a real Los Angeles freeway.
Next blog will have a few more mattes from this film for your enjoyment and edification.
|Note 'Rocco's Diner' all lit up.|
|That Deli is presumably fx cameraman Paul Curley's?|
|Remarkable in every respect this Spencer Bagtatopolis interior matte shot.|
|DRAGON SEED Newcombe department painting|
|An enlargement from the left side of the matte painting with those wonderful Newcombe skies.|
|What's the film and who's this man??? Find out next blog!!|