special photographic effects department
|A mere handful of memorable productions requiring special visual effects from Shepperton's resident wizards.|
|Percy Day mattes produced at the studio for ANNA KARENINA (1947)|
|Walter Percy Day|
|Percy Day matte composites from one of his last features, OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS (1952).|
|Judy Jordan matte-THE FALLEN IDOL|
|Bob Cuff - DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS|
|Percy Day and Judy Jordan - BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE|
Veevers also described how he became involved with the legendary Walter Percy Day- “I was in the miniature department at Denham for about three years then I left to go freelancing. After that I joined Mr Percy Day – known as Poppa Day to many people in the film industry – who was a matte painter for Korda at Denham Studios. I went to work for him for two days, but we got on together so well that I stayed with him for years. Eventually he retired when he was about eighty four and I took over the department, which by that time had moved to Shepperton”.
|George Samuels matte painting of Paris with a stop motion animated car by Doug Ferris: DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS|
|Wally Veevers - circa 1967|
Visual effects cameraman John Grant would describe Wally to interviewer Dennis Lowe as: "When I first met him he was such a large character who reminded me sort of...'Taras Bulba'.! I could always see him as some sort of Mongolian bandit... though he was always very well dressed, but always very gruff". According to matte painter Doug Ferris, Veevers favourite catchphrase while examining the various mattes in progress each morning was "Look at your reference!"
|Three mattes from THE COLDITZ STORY (1957)|
|PANDORA AND FLYING DUTCHMAN|
"I remember Doug Ferris sympathising with me in private as he was working on the same project - I believe he was painting an ornate garden for one of the scenes on glass at the time - he was using oils. It was all a bit of a scramble I seem to recall. It wasn't my intention to become a matte artist but we had just come out of a recession and anything was welcome in terms of work and I saw this event as a stop gap until I had the chance to work with Nick Allder and Brian Johnson and get involve with the physical and camera side of effects shooting. I remember years later when I spoke to Doug about that encounter on 'Prince' and he mentioned that after I left he reworked the painting in oils!”
Among the cameramen employed in the department at various times were John Mackie who was a guiding force in the development of matte process photography. Peter Harman, John Grant and Bryan Loftus would also play important roles in the camera side.
Pictured here, at left, is veteran effects cameraman Peter Harman standing at the doorway to the fx stage - while at right is a very young trainee matte camera assistant, John Grant - freshly arrived from Kodak, UK where he had been successfully accepted for a five year apprenticeship. John's father was noted production lighting cameraman Arthur Grant.
|Bob Cuff scenic mattes painted for Laurence Olivier's 1955 production of RICHARD III|
|Bob Cuff - matte painter|
Matte painter Bob Cuff told Domingo Lizcano of the atmosphere in the effects unit when he started there in 1952: “I joined Shepperton Studios in 1952 after four years at the Camberwell School of Art, I, along with David Hume, was hired as trainee matte painter by (art director) Vincent Korda. The Matte Department was then called the Special Effects Department.
Wally Veevers was Head of Department and his name appeared on most credits – which was usual practice at the time. George Samuels was principal painter and constructor. Albert Julian was also a brilliant painter, much loved by Vincent Korda. Matte artist David Hume left Shepperton after a couple of years to become a scenic painter at ABC Studios at Teddington".
Fellow effects staffers John Grant and Doug Ferris both concur in statements that "Bob was a quiet man who never blew his own trumpet". In an interview with Dennis Lowe, Doug Ferris said that while he tried to paint as little as possible to get an effect, "Bob, like some of the others of his time, was the kind of artist who would paint absolutely everything" with cameraman John Grant commenting: "Yes... Bob would dot every 'i' and cross every 't'". Having seen many Percy Day matte paintings over the years I can assume that the slow, meticulous Day method that Pop stood by was passed on down to Cuff, Julion and Samuels.
|One of the many Boulting brothers comedies which would utilise the services of the matte department - HEAVENS' ABOVE (1963) featured a number of great mattes and miniatures, including some with camera moves. Note the billboard!|
|Doug Ferris begins a painting, circa 1964.|
|SILENT ENEMY split screened model ships into real sea.|
Bowie and his team, which included Ray Caple, Brian Johnson, Ian Scoones and Kit West were working out of Prospect Studios on what would turn out to be an excellent little science fiction piece called THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961) whereby Ferris would watch and learn and pick up a variety of special effects skills that would come in useful later on.
In 1962 Wally Veevers was looking for talent to work on the big effects project, THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, and Doug was taken on, in a visual effects assistant capacity at first. On that show Doug would carry out a number of duties, namely the stop motion sequence (which nobody ever picks up on) where the hero drives through a wrecked Paris (in fact a series of George Samuels and Bob Cuff matte paintings). Ferris would also work on the meteor sequence where multicoloured fireballs are bombarding London - a wonderful set piece in CinemaScope.
|A pair of George Samuels matte shots from THE BEGGAR'S OPERA (1953)|
Staff matte painter Gerald Larn told me of how he came to be involved with the Veevers operation: "I spent 3 years studying at Farnham School of Art where I specialised in painting. In my final year I won a competitive scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London University. After leaving the Slade School, I exhibited paintings in London at the Temple Gallery, Redfern Gallery and Selfridges Art Gallery .
|Ted Samuels with the Korda logo.|
In 1964 (age 32) I met Bob Cuff. He was on the point of leaving Shepperton to join forces and form a Special Effects company with John Mackie. He asked if I would be interested to step into his shoes and fill in the gap he was leaving in the Effects department at Shepperton. After discussing the matter with Head of Department Wally Veevers, and showing him some of my work, it was agreed I should fill the vacant Matte Artist position. Later, following the departure of Wally Veevers, I remained working in the Special Effects Department under Ted Samuels until the break up of the Studio in 1975."
|Matte painter Gerald Larn - 1965|
During previous weeks I had watched the building of the scale model tank. It was the handiwork of our most skilled engineer Bill Jarrat. If ever there was an unsung (and of course also uncredited) hero of the Shepperton Efx department it was he. On so many projects it seemed his consummate craftsmanship was just taken for granted”.
|Mitchell NC matte process camera set up.|
The physical effects, or as the Americans term it, mechanical effects side of things were under the control of Ted Samuels – the brother of chief matte painter George Samuels, with Alan Bryce and Ernie Sullivan as effects assistant and gaffer respectively. Peter Harman was chief effects cameraman with John Mackie as second cameraman. John Grant, Bryan Loftus and Geoff Stevenson were camera assistants. Loftus would go on to work with Derek Meddings on THUNDERBIRDS and then became part of Veevers’ effects crew on Kubrick’s landmark 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY and later moved into production lighting cameraman.
|Two Bob Cuff mattes from the excellent Charles Chaplin film A KING IN NEW YORK (1957)|
|Sprocket-movement of matte camera|
|Gerald Larn-BEST HOUSE IN LONDON|
The unit possessed two Mitchell NC matte cameras, in addition to a pair of high speed Mitchell cameras for assorted miniature shoots with the camera boys often pulled into 2nd unit work and insert shots
|Sprawling matte painting from the big Samuel Bronston Super-Technirama spectacle CIRCUS WORLD (1964)|
Doug Ferris would join the matte department around 1962, providing stop motion animation and roto work for THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS as well as assisting George Samuels and Bob Cuff with gags for many of the matte shots the film required. Samuels would pass away soon after, with Ferris advancing into matte painting alongside Cuff.
Shortly thereafter other artists would join the fold, with Gerald Larn in April 1964 as primary matte artist with Bryan Evans, Peter Melrose and former movie extra Ron Dobson as companion painters at various times shortly thereafter. In fact Melrose was already engaged as a scenic painter at the studio and would often be called upon to paint mattes as well alongside Larn and Evans in a semi formal arrangement.
|Four mattes from the 1956 CinemaScope epic ALEXANDER THE GREAT probably by Bob Cuff and George Samuels.|
|Bob Cuff's original glass painting and final composite.|
|ALEXANDER THE GREAT - models matted into real sea.|
|SILENT ENEMY-animated explosion.|
The skills of the Shepperton effects department should not be overlooked in the field of cell animation either. For the excellent effects packed WWII film THE SILENT ENEMY several exciting shots of underwater mines exploding on enemy vessels were entirely cell animated artwork - with several examples demonstrated here, in a most unique frame by frame analysis of the creativity involved by unknown artists. On screen at 24fps, these shots look sensational.
|SILENT ENEMY matte shots|
I've never really seen effects like these before, and mention must be made of the many matted in ships and optically enhanced 'flashes' on ocean and so forth. Great stuff Wally.
|Mattes supervised by Percy Day from the 1950 Tyrone Power film THE BLACK ROSE.|
|The awesome closing pullout shot from THE VICTORS. Matte painters Bob Cuff and Doug Ferris.|
|Opening visual effects set piece supervised by Wally Veevers.|
|Carl Foreman's THE VICTORS post war Berlin matte painting.|
|A frame from the aerial pull out matte, and a pair more at lower right, from THE HORSE'S MOUTH (1958)|
Gerald Larn mentioned to me: “Bob Cuff and John Grant were widely acknowledged to be a great double act and it was for that reason in 1964 they decided to leave Shepperton and join forces to form their own FX company”. He added: “But before leaving Shepperton Bob suggested I should speak to Wally and apply to fill the vacant position of resident matte artist”.
|I WAS MONTY'S DOUBLE (1958)|
|Totally fabricated dogfights, complete with smoke trails.|
|A rarity indeed!|
Effects assistant and gaffer Ernie Sullivan surprisingly even got his name up in lights with Veevers during the credits of DIE MONSTER DIE (1965). To the best of my knowledge none of the others named here have had the good fortune of being officially credited – but as we’ve learnt this was pretty much a sign of the times, not just in Britain but in the US industry as well.
Gerald Larn told me: “Throughout the eleven years I worked in the Shepperton matte studio, to my knowledge not one of us was ever credited for the work produced. Special Effects credits seemed to be recorded as either "Wally Veevers" (later, Ted Samuels) or simply stated as "Shepperton Studios".
|HOBSON'S CHOICE - Bob Cuff matte|
|Gerald with BEST HOUSE IN LONDON paintings visible.|
|Larn completing a Peter Melrose MOLL FLANDERS matte.|
|An ambitious mid fifties 'space race' sci fi vehicle with many special effects - some good, some so-so and some plain awful. Many mattes are to be seen here, with reference material indicating Julian Kay was one of the matte artists.|
|MISTER MOSES - Gerald Larn's first ever matte|
Nevertheless, I don't recall his work even being filmed. To cut a long story short, Wally retained Ron's services for a year or so, and in similar fashion I do remember him being employed to produce a painting of the Great Wall of China for GENGHIS KHAN, but it was never used. Thereafter I returned to working for long periods largely on my own in the studio until a couple of years later when Bryan Evans eventually joined the department on a full time basis.
|An unbalanced test for HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA|
The master director David Lean would call upon the Veevers unit for two films – LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) to supply ‘into the blazing sun’ pov opticals and again on DR ZHIVAGO (1965) where several subtle matte paintings were added (which nobody ever noticed) to expand snowscapes and atmospheric wintery skies, as Gerald Larn explains: “For the moment I can only think of one occasion when I became involved in working on original negative. That was on Dr. Zhivago. Both Bryan Evans and myself worked on half a dozen shots.
I asked Gerald about the technical aspects of these shots: “I certainly spent a long time working on the additional snow for the ‘Ice House’. The technique was to airbrush layers of white poster colour onto one of our 6ft x 3ft clear glasses. The scene was projected behind the glass and the sprayed paint was either added or worked on with hogs hair brushes to remove or create varying densities of white. Many tests were made to ensure the technique was working successfully and the image was finally double exposed onto the original negative”.
|Stages of a split screen: WHERE'S JACK?|
The three frames at left from the 1970 film WHERE'S JACK?, beautifully illustrate the use of a three part split screen to increase the numbers in the crowd by a factor of three. Also, a painted skyline of London has been added to complete the effect.
|A Peter Melrose multi plane moving cloud glass painted effect which turned up on screen recycled in several Hammer films such as TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA and DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE to great effect.|
Gerald Larn: "While Wally was in charge there were occasional movements of paintings in and out of the studio. For instance, when I first joined the studio I remember there were two large glass paintings about 5 x 4ft leaning up against a cupboard. They were foreground glasses that had been produced years earlier by Poppa Day for one of the classic Shepperton Shakespeare epics - either Henry 5th or Richard 3rd. John Grant got me to grab a brush and appear to be painting the glass. After a few weeks both paintings disappeared never to be seen again. But there was no evidence of a storeroom containing past pieces of work or anything of that sort. It may be that Wally just had them all piled up under his bed” !!
|The original Spanish location for VALLEY OF GWANGI and the final shot with Gerald Larn's painting matted in plus real sky burnt in as well.|
|Doug Ferris split screen work|
|Alan Maley's matte work for BECKET (1964)|
|A glorious classically painted view by Alan Maley for BECKET|
|A very rare test frame of the full sized aspect Alan Maley painting from BECKET prior to it being optically reduced with a pseudo camera move travelling down from the castle at top left to the smoke at lower right as it appears in the final film.|
|Larn at work, an early test lineup, and final version.|
|GENGHIS KHAN - Gerald Larn matte shot|
The photo at right shows Larn in front of the miniature Eiffel Tower built for THE BEST HOUSE IN LONDON (see below for composite)
|Location plate photography transformed into Victorian London with Gerald's perfectly blended painted buildings from the film THE BEST HOUSE IN LONDON (1968)|
|BEST HOUSE IN LONDON (1968)|
|THE FAMILY WAY (1966)|
|A dramatic tilt down effects shot from the Peter Sellers comedy HEAVENS ABOVE (1963 which may be a model shot.|
There is one section of the film where Burton's head is large on the screen for at least 30 seconds as he delivers a 'captivating' night time open air soliloque. We created a starlit night sky to fill the screen behind his head (via blue screen) while he remained in extreme close up throughout the speech. When we came to put things together we realized there were all manner of 'sparkling' things happening in and around his hair (which was being blown by a breeze). There was nothing for it but to produce animated mattes of Burton's head (and mobile hair) for each and every frame of the action!!!
|Gerald busy with non matte related film work.|
I certainly remember the whole department day after day festooned with drying cells - and I retain a suspicion that the sequence was in fact more than 30 seconds long !!
After a number of tests, finally the black mattes did the trick. But it was a never to be forgotten episode in the department”.
|Two Gerald Larn shots from DIE MONSTER, DIE - with painted additions and precise fire elements doubled in.|
|LORD JIM miniatures|
Peter would detail his background to interviewer Al Taylor in 1988 for the splendid Hammer Films fan journal ‘Little Shoppe of Horrors’: "I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an artist, and, eventually, against strong opposition from my parents who were against the idea of art as a career, I took the entrance examination and went to Art College. At that time I had absolutely no idea of a career in films - in fact I was aiming very much towards a career in advertising. But as luck would have it, towards the end of my art course my work was noticed at an exhibition by a man who worked in films, and he offered me a job. He ran what was really a small SPFX department producing main titles for films, which was part of the J.Arthur Rank organisation. In those days, a main title was nearly always a special effect. The title appeared 'out of the sea', 'blew away in the desert sands' or 'spun out of the sky' - or something like that. So in a way, I learned the rudiments of producing visual effects and about cine cameras because it was one of my jobs to load and unload the cameras".
|Melrose sky from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (1972)|
"I felt a need to broaden my artistic horizons and transferred to the scenic artists department. It was here that I met Albert Whitlock, the well known matte artist now working for Universal. It was quite common in those days for an artist to paint both scenic backgrounds foreground glasses and matte shots, and I remember on many occasions assisting Al to paint foreground glasses - sometimes three or four deep - one in behind the other, building up the various planes of the picture. It seems now that in those days every film had far more of that sort of work in it than in more recent years. However, after about eight years working at Pinewood under contract to Rank, I decided to go and work freelance"
|Peter Melrose's first matte for Shepperton: LORD JIM|
|FEARLESS VAMPIRE - matte|
According to Doug Ferris, Polanski had originally shot some second unit material in the 'flat' 1.66:1 ratio but then decided to change to 'scope' 2.35:1, thus requiring mattes to expand some existing shots on either sides of the frame.
I asked Gerald about this old photo I'd discovered: "Yes, you are correct about the paint studio photo. The two individuals are Bryan Evans (foreground) and Peter Melrose. I happen to remember the shot being set up. It was completely phoney. I seem to recall it being arranged by Wally - I never knew for sure - but I think for someone in the production team on DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD “At the time, both of the paintings featured in the photo were in fact in the process of being executed by Peter. My old friend Bryan was drafted in to appear to be tackling the glass in front of him. Bryan's easel and personal painting position in the studio was established far to the left, and was the last in our row of four easels side by side. I worked on his right at the easel next to him. Then there was a gap of perhaps 6 feet or so before the position of the third easel (which for the most part remained unoccupied throughout all my years at Shepperton.) However, when Doug Ferris had some work to do on a glass, he would use that third easel. Doug had made a speciality of working on split screen shots, awkward matte joins and other subtle technical issues. In fact he only worked intermittently in the painting studio. He was more usually found in the optical room working with Peter Harman or John Grant. The fourth and final easel (occupied by Bryan in the photo) was also hardly ever in use. It seems well recorded that Peter Melrose was a freelance scenic artist. Throughout Wally Veevers' regime (and even later under Ted Samuels) Peter was only very occasionally engaged to produce matte paintings and he would be found working at that fourth matte painting position on only a very few occasions during my eleven years of studio occupancy”.
The particular Hammer film mentioned above was DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE and featured a number of expansive matte shots by Peter Melrose, as he detailed in 1993: "At the time I painted the mattes for Dracula, I was freelancing again, but in the happy position of being able to take the work into the Special Effects at Shepperton Studios and hire the facilities; this worked well for both of us. The budget and time schedule was extremely tight, maintained by the eagle-eyed surveillance of Mrs. Aida Young. Under the circumstances, I found her criticisms less then helpful. She kept describing the castles I painted as Gibbs castles - a Gibbs castle being the well-known trade mark of the toothpaste manufacturer"!
|Expansive mattes by Peter Melrose which add considerably more scope to this Hammer production above most others.|
|AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS (1964)|
|Gerald Larn's moonscape from the first of the two DR WHO pictures.|
|THE GIFT HORSE - George Samuels|
I always do my matte paintings with artists’ oil colours. This is the only medium, in my opinion, which gives you the depth of colour that is required for any type of scene. I find that acrylic paint tends to have a lack of ‘depth’. It can be used sometimes, but it just depends on the subject”
|Gerald Larn completing Peter Melrose's MOLL FLANDERS|
This method had been established by Wally and was standard practice at Shepperton. It did however mean that our dedicated camera/optical printer was often engaged for very long periods printing these masters for a shot. Peter Harman or John Grant (sometimes both) would often need to be incarcerated for long periods in the blacked out matte camera room!"
"At this point I should point out that Wally's reputation, coupled with the facilities available at Shepperton, had created a seriously unrivaled situation for our Special Effects department within the industry - certainly throughout the '60's. There was always a quantity of work being undertaken. Of course we heard from time to time that Tommy Howard over at MGM at Boreham Wood was doing something or other. Or perhaps Cliff Cully at Pinewood was producing some matte work for some film or other, but we knew that we 'commanded the high ground' without doubt”.
|Top two frames are Gerald Larn glass shots, while the remainder are Doug Ferris and John Grant optical composites - from the 1972 ALICES' ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND.|
|Unfinished temp optical test frames with bleed through.|
|ZEPPELIN (1970) had many good miniatures and alot of blue screen.|
Not all of the big roadshow pictures would require alot of input from the effects department, and one such film which all expected to be a bonanza of photographic effects work only to be surprised at the lack of effects input was the popular musical OLIVER (1968). Gerald remembers this occasion vividly: "I remember being very surprised there were no matte paintings coming our way while the OLIVER crew dominated all of our stages at Shepperton. However I do recall Doug Ferris around that time working on an optical involving the animating of a train on a distant railway bridge in a London street scene. That's the only possible connection I can make between our department and OLIVER".
|Two George Samuels matte shots from the popular George Cole series PURE HELL AT SAINT.TRINIANS (1960)|
|Bob Cuff mattes from HEAVEN'S ABOVE (1962)|
The frames shown at right are from HEAVENS ABOVE, and are painted by Bob Cuff. Doug Ferris had one of his earlier assignments here creating a series of 'waves' breaking at the blend of painting and live action plate.
|A Doug Ferris matte from THE FOUR FEATHERS - which is most likely to be the 1978 version.|
Wally Veevers left Shepperton in 1967, principally to work again for Stanley Kubrick, with whom he had formed a good relationship with on DR STRANGELOVE some years earlier. This time though the project was mammoth – arguably one of the biggest photographic effects showcases to that time – Arthur C.Clarke’s near unfilmable 2001-A SPACE ODYSSEY, upon which Veevers would be overall photographic effects supervisor, though would eventually be in command of all model building and photography.
As the project grew in scale and technical requirements other effects supervisors would be appointed to specific areas of responsibility. Tom Howard from MGM-Elstree would design and oversee the incredibly photo real reflex front projection sequences. Douglas Trumbull, a virtually unknown American fx artist would come on board to conceive and build the now revolutionary slit scan flat art animation stand for the all important star travel set piece, while Trumbull’s Canadian partner, Con Pederson would assume various optical camera set ups.
"In the film, the castle occupies a very small area of the frame and is perched on a very distant hill. There were a further couple of gloomy night time close up paintings of MacBeth's castle that I carried out".
Doug Ferris also painted on this film, and he told Dennis Lowe of the novel technique he employed for one or two shots: "For the shots of the castle in the mist, I painted directly onto the 'printing glass', making it possible for just one run through the matte camera". Matte cameraman John Grant concurred: "It makes it so much easier for me".
|Gerald Larn matte painted shots from MACBETH (1971)|
|Ferris animation: MACBETH|
|THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970)|
|Gerald Larn's epic matte from THE LAST VALLEY (1970) plus an early test frame from the original 'red record' negative.|
"We all saw very little of Wally throughout that final four or five years and it was only in the dying last months of the Studio's life that John, Peter and Doug finally jumped ship to join him in his new set-up. As for THE LAST VALLEY, I do remember the painting very well. Wally Veevers had already left the Studios and had been working in a freelance capacity for some while when he unexpectedly turned up and presented me with some night time model footage, produced elsewhere, which already had a lot of fire effects 'burnt on'. I had to paint a large area of foreground and also extend areas of the city walls both left and right".
|Gerald and ALEXANDER THE GREAT painting|
"I remember adding bits and pieces of castle wall to a couple of additional shots on THE LAST VALLEY. I have managed to find a frame of test footage of one of the paintings and I include it here. Mention of the film reminds me of the fact that a few days after the main painting had been completed and filmed in our optical room, Wally asked me to bring the glass back into the studio and paint a battle scene taking place on the bridge across the moat leading to the main gate of the castle. He cannily refused to answer any of my questions as to why he wanted such a thing to be done. Needless to say, l dutifully complied. Then as now, I can only surmise he may have hoped to offer some of the images to the publicity department as poster material for the production”.
|The deceptively simple looking main titles..... read on!|
|Matte painter Bryan Evans|
"The final episode in my NICHOLAS and ALEXANDRA story had all the elements of an event more likely taking place in '40's Hollywood.!! When all my work on the title sequence had been finally put together (also with the dissolve into the opening piece of action) the footage was sent off to Columbia Pictures. A few days later we (Ted Samuels, Peter Harman and myself) unexpectedly found ourselves being transported by chauffeur driven limo to some unknown destination in central London. We were finally deposited in front of the Haymarket Theatre. When we entered the darkened and seemingly empty huge space, to our surprise, we found ourselves being introduced to none other than the legendary American Producer of the film Mr Sam Spiegel. With fat cigar firmly clamped between his teeth we sat with him as our silent footage (no soundtrack at this stage) was projected on to the gigantic CinemaScope screen. Following the one showing of the sequence, and after a short silence. a grunt issued from behind the cigar - which I took to mean all was satisfactory - so we were then ushered out into the waiting limo to be transported back to the Studio!"
|Very Hogarth-esque and effectively so...|
|ASYLUM mood drawings by Gerald Larn|
|An original 'yellow record' frame matte: DIE MONSTER, DIE|
|Classic Shepperton matte shots - from the unforgettable film THE COLDITZ STORY (1957)|
|Doug Ferris - CHARLEMAGNE|
|Two of the last matte shots painted by Gerald and assembled by Peter Harman at the now 'wound up' studio.|
|An extremely rare test frame of an ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS matte extension|
Meanwhile, artist Doug Ferris and cameraman Peter Harman would continue on producing mattes and a wide variety of other effects for many films with Wally Veevers, with a new base at the former home of Hammer Films, Bray Studios. Among the work they turned out while at Bray were a number of superb mattes of castles and forts for the Richard Lester adventure THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (1974).
What made this a particularly tough assignment was the fact that the mattes had in fact already been done elsewhere, though these failed to convince the director, so Ferris was enlisted, literally at the eleventh hour, to paint and composite four new mattes under a rushed three week deadline.... with excellent results that fool even the most observant viewer, as is evident in the frames shown here.
Among the many other shows that Doug and Peter worked on together for Wally was the surprise hit musical THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) upon which Ferris would provide opticals and the exterior of the manor house which blasts off into space., shots that were made all the more difficult as Veevers wasn't there, as he was in Morocco and the French Pyrenees shooting plates for THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING. According to Doug: "We just had to invent things on the spot". The effect was made with a small painting of the house on glass, and animated frame by frame upward, while a mass of smoke was doubled in to conceal the cheapness of the trick. FX cameraman Peter Harman was less enthralled, describing the film as: " a load of bloody rubbish". Little did they know of the cult following to come.
In 1973 Universal financed a rather good (as I recall it through the mists of time) rendition of the Percy Shelley fable, FRANKENSTEIN - THE TRUE STORY whereupon a number of matte paintings would be needed to flesh out the narrative. Peter Melrose was given the task of painting these shots and the results are impressive, with Melrose himself reportedly very pleased with the finished shots. As a freelancer, I'm assuming Melrose executed these mattes with lease of the Shepperton studio and camera equipment, as he had done on numerous occasions in the past.
|Stages of Doug's FOUR MUSKETEERS castle addition.|
|Airstrips filled with painted planes for A BRIDGE TOO FAR (1977) courtesy of Doug Ferris' paintbrush.|
|One of a pair of original negative Ferris mattes from THE MESSAGE (aka MOHAMMED, MESSENGER OF GOD)|
|Doug's magnificent SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET painting, still in storage.|
|Doug Ferris (left) and John Grant (right)|
|Ferris matte shot from John Boorman's masterful epic EXCALIBUR (1980)|
|The stages of a matte shot - a Doug Ferris composited from SANTA CLAUS - THE MOVIE (1984)|
|One of several, mostly invisible mattes that Doug painted for the exquisite French film THE LOVER (1992)|
|Revealing before and after frames from Terry Gilliam's hopeless ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1990)|
|Ferris posing with one of his beautiful mattes from the abysmal ERIK THE VIKING (1989)|
|Kubrick's timeless masterpiece DR STRANGELOVE featured much effects work, with shots such as this being miniatures in front of a process screen, often with additional smoke trails burnt in.|
|Three very effective mattes from the science fiction drama SATELLITE IN THE SKY (1957)|
|Matte from the 1970 film of the Checkov play, THE THREE SISTERS|
|An interesting pair of matte shots - from different scenes in the same film - where evidentally the same plate of the roadway has been used in two different matte shots - one of Hong Kong and the other of Bombay.|
|The huge and seemingly 'out of control' crazy as hell CASINO ROYALE (1967)|
|CAPTAIN'S PARADISE (1953) which would again use the tried and tested Wally Veevers method of matting miniature ships into actual ocean footage, thus eliminating scale issues with 'miniaturised' water.|
|Three terrific Doug Ferris matte shots from THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975)|
|Two mattes from the 1968 film HOW TO STEAL THE WORLD|
|More HMS Naval effects shots from the Veevers unit, this time from THE VALIANT (1962)|
|Combination paintings and miniature shots from THEY WHO DARED (1954)|
|A pair of early Percy Day technicolor mattes from BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE (1948)|
|Two matte painted shots from DAMN THE DEFIANT (1962)|
|Some of the many trick shots in DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962) with paintings by George Samuels and Bob Cuff, and animation effects by Doug Ferris. Effects cameraman John Mackie, miniatures by Bill Jarrat.|
|More mattes and effects from DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS.|
|A Gerald Larn matte from DR WHO AND THE DALEKS (1965)|
|One of the miniature factories from HEAVENS ABOVE (1962)... note the billboard!!|
|Miniature lift off from SATELLITE IN THE SKY|
|MAN WHO WOULD BE KING matted set extension by Peter Wood.|
|Some of the Cuff and Samuels mattes from Oscar winning THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961)|
|HEAVENS ABOVE atmospheric Bob Cuff skies and lightning animation.|
|Two Bob Cuff mattes as seen in the brilliant I'M ALRIGHT JACK (1959) with the right frame depicting all of British industry on strike and at a standstill. An absolute classic.|
|Harryhausen's MYSTERIOUS ISLAND - possibly not a Shepperton job as various accounts differ??|
|Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's ROAD TO HONG KONG (1962) recycled two original Percy Day paintings safely stored since BLACK NARCISSUS for newly composited scenes.|
|Same film - good example of miniature pyrotechnics.|
|Same film again - miniature on wires, split screened into real sea, with explosion element added.|
|Carol Reed's moody film noir classic THE THIRD MAN had this Pop Day matte shot in the sewer chase.|
|The opening prison exterior from TWO WAY STRETCH (1960)|
|The 1955 feature A KID AND TWO FARTHINGS|
|Seemless composite shot from WAR OF THE SATELLITES (1957)|
|The big effects Oscar winner of 1961, THE LONGEST DAY, had a large multi-national effects team, with the Veevers team handling the matte paintings of the Allied Invasion. matte painter was Bob Cuff.|