Thursday 4 June 2020

MATTE PAINTING REVIEW: A Selection of Overlooked Films - Part Ten

Hello friends, followers and fellow film-freaks.  It's that time again for another comprehensive and no-holds barred matte and effects extravaganza where we will be able to celebrate the mastery, magic and outright mystique of the traditional hand painted matte shot, as well as a healthy dose of classic era miniature trick work from motion pictures that I bet very few of you have seen, or even heard of for that matter.  Today's blog is a true bounty of terrific images, facts and rare biographical material on effects practitioners from days long gone.
The films celebrated today run the range from an early and rare 1930's British science fiction picture - a very impressive vfx showcase from Gaumont Studios that is now largely forgotten though most worthy of rediscovery; through to a David Niven - Ginger Rogers Universal period teary eyed costumer; a taut MGM WWII escape drama with Spencer Tracy; a popular 1949 Warner Bros Gary Cooper picture based on an epic novel featuring one hell of a lot of skyscrapers; and last but not least a pair of relatively recent - as in late 1980's - back to back sci-fi actioners involving a shiny cyborg with a badge.

But wait.... there's more!  I've also got a wonderful high resolution selection of terrific Syd Dutton and Robert Stromberg Illusion Arts matte paintings that were recently auctioned off by Heritage Auctions, from films such as SPACEBALLS and BATMAN FOREVER and a variety of television's STAR TREK incarnations from the late 80's that are bound to delight my readers.
And as if that isn't enough, for my regular feature Blast From The Past I have a long overdue retrospective piece on one of the legends of the British special effects industry, Filippo Guidobaldi - an important contributor whose name is inexplicably missing from seemingly all textbooks and published histories of special effects!

So, with that foreword done and dusted, we can now begin the journey...
Stay cool and stay safe wherever you happen to be.



A BLAST FROM THE PAST:             Filippo Guidobaldi

 It has always been something of a mystery to me that the name Filippo (sometimes billed as 'Philippo' and known by most simply as 'Guido') Guidobaldi has been overlooked by researchers and authors and compilers of special effects texts throughout the years, with not one mention in any of the books or journals that I'm familiar with, despite having a long and busy career in British trick work with many screen credits.  Sadly, this appears to be the case for a great many British trick shot exponents whose contributions are largely forgotten or completely unknown today.

I was most fortunate a few years ago when Guido's grandson, David, made contact with me and told me his grandfather's life story, part of which I included in an earlier blog dedicated to movie miniatures.  David was not only very forthcoming with a most fascinating history but also more than generous with the last remaining photographs from the Guidobaldi family collection, for which I remain most grateful.  Guido's career in visual effects spanned several decades, from around 1929 creating memorable high rise skyscraper miniatures and city environs for the film High Treason, right through to the mid fifties on shows like the classic Above Us The Waves, working extensively at Gaumont Studios and later at Rank/Pinewood.
Two of the astonishing effects shots seen in the impressive British made science fiction film TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL (1935), which in the UK was titled just THE TUNNEL.  See article later in this blog.
Shufftan set up for Gaumont's ROME EXPRESS (1932)
Guido - born in Perugia, Umbria in Italy in 1889 - would live a most event filled life even before finding his place within the film industry.  Guido's grandson regaled me with many stories:  "Around 1916-17, Italy was fighting Austria at that time, but it was not connected with the war on the Western Front, though my recollection of the precise dates and hostilities might be hazy.  Guido told me his job was to go up in an observation balloon, take photos of the enemy trenches, gun emplacements, troop movements etc, and then build models to display the facts later.  He was a pacifist by nature but the work interested him, and it was fun, if not a little exhilarating.  After the war, Guido and his two brothers moved to the south of France.  At some point Guido, with his natural artistic abilities joined a small film company in Nice and became their in-house model maker, while learning everything he could about photography and cinematography."

Guido with a miniature set on the effects stage at the Gaumont British Studios at Lime Grove, from an unknown production. This might be from the film THE GHOST TRAIN made by Gainsborough in 1931?
Guido at left, with his effects team, identities unknown.
David was very close to his grandfather and maintained a keen interest of Guido's life and adventures.  "By the mid 1920's his work was noticed by an English film company, which one I'm not sure of, but I do know he worked for many such as Gaumont and ended up at Pinewood.  Around 1928 he befriended Herbert Ponting, who was the official photographer with Robert Falcon Scott's journey to the Terra Nova of the Antarctic.  They both worked together on Pontings' film called 90 Degree's South.  I suspect Guido filmed the opening, let's say a model he'd made or a matte shot.  After Guido died I cleared out so many tins of that nitrate film.  The nitrate film had become more and more unstable from being kept in his studio shed, so I threw reel after reel into an incinerator where flames shot nearly 30 feet into the air." 
A large miniature set for an unidentified film.

David described to me how he later had another big clear out many years after, this time from the loft of the house in 1976, where dozens of reels of more nitrate film had been stored for over 50 years and remarked:  "More huge flames in the garden!"

Epic establishing shot from THE WICKED LADY (1945)
Guido was, for a time, gainfully employed at London's Gaumont British-Lime Grove Studios where he worked on many films such as Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and the amazing 1935 science fiction movie Transatlantic Tunnel (aka The Tunnel, which is covered later in this blog post) primarily as a model maker. He worked alongside other notable effects personalities such as Cliff Richardson, Bill Warrington and a young Albert Whitlock and most likely Henry Harris, Lionel Banes, Jack Whitehead, Bert Marshall and Douglas Woolsey, all of whom would play a significant part in British special effects work in the years to follow, for the most part at Pinewood Studios.

Guido's miniature set and it's destruction from MILLIONS LIKE US (1943)
Guido's grandson David explained:  "Guido was a big part of my life as I lived with him till he died.  I grew up accompanying him to various studios (mostly Pinewood) during my holidays away from boarding school.  I also spent a large amount of time helping him out in his studio at home.  It was like an Aladdin's cave where, as a boy, I often played out 'Walter Mitty' scenarios with the props that he had made for his work."  David told me he'd make small model set ups and his grandfather would refine them and then film them with an old hand-cranked 35mm camera, while adding his own 'gags' and tricks of the trade to enhance the illusion, all of which the younger man soaked up.
Miniature effects by Filippo Guidobaldi from the film BROKEN JOURNEY (1947)

  For Gainsborough Pictures, Guido would start to receive on screen credit on most productions he worked on.  His billing was sometimes abbreviated simply to 'Special Effects by Guidobaldi' - which had a certain air of mystique about it like that of a stage magician. Whether it was Guido's choice or that of the studio, nobody knows.  Some of the films he worked on included Bad Lord Byron, The Wicked Lady and That Lady Hamilton as well as the Technicolor adventure Christopher Columbus (shown at left). Later it would be Bill Warrington who received the lions share of the Pinewood SFX screen credits, and though Guido's family always asked if it bothered him, the Italian trick man just said he was happy to just be able to create and invent film gags and special effects shots, which gave him enormous satisfaction.

Guido, in the middle, poses with his special effects assistants, possibly at Gaumont.  Staffers unknown but may include Jack Whitehead, Bill Warrington, Henry Harris and Lionel Banes(??)  Cannot be sure.
Filippo specialised in miniatures for the most part, though I believe he had an expertise in the Schufftan technique, which was a commonly employed in-camera means in Europe and England for combining models or photographic prints with live action by means of cleverly devised mirror set up.  Later on he would work on optical effects in some of the later films he participated on at Pinewood.

"In early 1940 he worked on the Alexander Korda film called That Lady Hamilton, which was released in 1941.  Some of the photos [here] depict Guido working with the models.  He told me he used small explosive charges on the model war ships to portray the destruction of the French fleet.  As a young boy I'd experiment with his supply of black powder and other chemicals, including electric detonators that he kept in an old cigarette packet.  I was forever blowing things up in miniature, be it models I'd made, bought or found.  I suppose my love of pyrotechnics had started then."
The Battle of Trafalgar as seen in miniature by Guidobaldi for THAT LADY HAMILTON (1941)
Excellent miniature photography and staging from Korda's THAT LADY HAMILTON 

As big an assignment as That Lady Hamilton was, the experience would result in an unforeseen and near catastrophic event that would change Guido's life significantly.  David told me:  "The interesting thing about that film - so I've heard - is that it was Winston Churchill's favourite film, and he allegedly watched it over 50 times in his private cinema.  The irony was that Churchill in 1940 - it was now well into World War II -  said 'Collar the lot', meaning, round up every Italian in the UK and deport them all to Canada - and that included Guido!!  He was arrested and taken away.  You can imagine the stress it caused his family, never knowing if they'd see him again."
Matte shot from THE 39 STEPS (1935)
Things only got worse for poor Guido from here on:  "After being interned in Liverpool he was put on a ship called the Arandora Star, bound for Canada.  On the 2nd of July 1940 off the west coast of Ireland, the Arandora Star was torpedoed by the German U-Boat U47 under the command of Korvettenkapitan Gunther Prien.  He was a U-Boat ace who's claim to fame was that he'd previously sunk the Royal Oak in the Scapa flow.  Legend has it that he had one faulty torpedo left after returning from a successful Atlantic patrol....Boom!!"
Guido showing off his magnificent miniature setting constructed at the Shepherd's Bush Studio for A PLACE OF ONE'S OWN (1945).  
Conditions aboard the Arandora Star were grim, and severely overcrowded according to David:  "There were 1500 Italians on board, including their English guards and also Germans who were at that time living in England.  I believe over 800 people drowned.  Guido managed to stay afloat by treading water and holding onto some debris for nearly 8 hours, till someone died on a lifeboat and he was hauled aboard.  He told me it was his Catholic faith and the love of his family that helped him survive.  He believed that in s state of delirium he saw a vision of the Madonna on the horizon, and he was to paint this vision in oils years later."  According to Guido's grandson, it was the Canadian Navy who picked up the survivors and compared to the humiliation and abuse suffered at the hands of the British, the Canadians were remarkably kind and caring.
Shown here with some of his miniatures at the ready for the Technicolor film CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1949).  Also on the visual effects crew was Albert Whitlock, who also received screen credit.  Whitlock would work on many films alongside Guidobaldi throughout his British period.
Model V2 rocket and setting for a 10 min short film in 1944.
David continued the fascinating story, which still had more twists and turns:  "About a week later, Guido and the survivors - plus many others - were put on another ship, the Dunera.  This time they were destined for Australia.  He told us he was scared stiff to go below decks in case they were torpedoed again, which in fact they were(!) but this time with little damage.  The ship took 2 months to get there under the most appalling conditions, overcrowding being the worst part.  Once in Australia they were put into a what he called a concentration camp - a purpose built camp run by the Australians, where most of the guards had fought in the First World War.  There again, they were kind, considerate and helpful, compared to the cowardly British that had abused him for being Italian back in the UK."
Some rare Guidobaldi artifacts and film tests, including some hand crafted skeletons, with the shot of the pair sword fighting being part of a stop motion experiment that he was especially proud of.  The bust shown at lower right is Guido's sculpture of The Madonna - based upon a vision he had whilst trying to stay afloat and alive amid debris, oil and bodies after being torpedoed by a U-Boat.

Life in an Aussie POW camp was pretty relaxed, with light security as there was literally nowhere to escape to.  Guido found various means to engage in his passion for painting, with a certain degree of ingenuity.  "He was allowed out to collect wood to make charcoal for his drawings and he also gathered natural resin as a paint base along with natural coloured pigments to create his paints, which he inserted into old toothpaste tubes.  He made his paintbrushes from badger hair, stripped from shaving brushes.  He created many paintings, some of which still survive to this day.  He used the backs of wooden boxes that had once contained eggs or sheep drench to paint on.  Always inventive, Guido set about with others, to build a chapel with all the necessary artifacts, including a font and carved statues."
Guido, at extreme right, on one of his miniature sets from an unknown film which has some similarities to the Ealing film DEAD OF NIGHT (1945).  Possibly an unused shot as a similar sequence, though not identical street setting with an out of control bus did occur in that film?  Any info gladly accepted.
A closer view...
Miniatures & tests from unknown films, though Guido's grandson thinks the submarine frames were tests for the WWII film ABOVE US THE WAVES (1955) - his final effects assignment.
Much like another well known UK effects man, Les Bowie, who also happened to be a prisoner of war, though held elsewhere and made the best of a difficult situation, Guido also developed effective means to conceal contraband.  "Like all of the prisoners they made their own alcohol, and the hard part was where to store it as well as the illegal still.  Once again, Guido came to the rescue.  I remember as a child, he said to me, 'Where do you hide a tree?' Answer, 'In a forest'.  And that's just what he did.  There were two tree stumps outside his hut and Guido decided to create a floral display in the tops of both.  However, the fake tray of plants hid a hollowed out cavity, and that is where he hid the contraband."
Miniatures combined with painting, optical flak effects and explosion from THE PURPLE PLAIN (1954)

Once Italy capitulated, Guido and the other UK-Italian citizens were returned to Britain in 1943.  Sadly, the majority of the many small artifacts that he'd carved or built under two and a half years in POW captivity - as well as all of his possessions - were stolen upon his arrival in the UK.
Guido would return to the film industry in late '43 and continue with creating trick shots for a multitude of movies such as Millions Like Us, The Magic Bow, The Seekers, The Purple Plain, Quartet, Snowbound, A Place of One's Own as well as some invisible animated matte effects for Romeo and Juliet and his last film in 1955 which was Above Us The Waves.

Filippo would die four years later in 1959, but his legacy lives on, with his extended family still delighted when they see his name up on screen when assorted old films are shown on television.

A few years ago, all of Guido's old camera equipment, effects gadgets and hand built optical devices were gathered up by another family member and sold at auction at Christies London - including most of his memorabilia - with just the photographic material displayed here able to be 'salvaged' by David from imminent dispersal to whereabouts, unknown.

Three of Guido's P.O.W oil paintings of life in an internment camp in Australia in 1941-42, accomplished with home made pigments, brushes and supports.

*A special thank you to David Coker for kindly sharing his memories of his grandfather, and allowing me to use these rare family photographs.



I'm always thrilled to discover unseen matte art that occasionally crops up on auction sites, though vast distance, pandemics and civil unrest obviously preclude your far flung correspondent from ever attending such venues.  Late last year Heritage Auctions hosted a sale of some amazing matte art from the vaults of the, sadly now shut down, boutique visual effects house, Illusion Arts, which was established in 1985 or so by former Universal staffers, and Albert Whitlock associates Bill Taylor and Syd Dutton.  What follows are an extraordinary collection of wonderful traditional hand painted mattes (is there any other kind, I ask you?), largely the creation of Syd Dutton, though I think a few might have been rendered by Robert Stromberg - though I stand to be corrected.  Best still, the images are superb high resolution photos that allowed me to crop and present close up detail areas of the original brushwork, which is something NZ Pete just cannot get enough of.

*Note- a message from Google Images last week informed me that space is rapidly filling up, and as I have no intention of 'buying' more storage, my images will need to now be reduced in size considerably, though I'll still try to present matte shots as best I can - especially to the true devotees who actually read this on a genuine computer screen.  I do it for you!

Matte artist Syd Dutton, shown here some years ago outside the Illusion Arts facility with a major matte from one of the later STAR TREK tv series.  See below for more great work...

Magnificent, evocative matte art by Dutton from STAR TREK-THE NEXT GENERATION made either in the late 80's or early 90's.  I liked the old original tv series and films but never watched the reincarnations.  The matte was titled Unification Romulus, which I assume was the episode or locale.

Detail that definitely shows the Whitlock style of impressionistic flicks of paint and much suggestion rather than needless detail to bring it all together.  

More detail

A particular favourite matte here, from a middling spoof made almost a decade too late - Mel Brooks' SPACEBALLS (1987).  An absolutely eye popping Dutton painting that was shown as a full painting, with just a spaceship doubled in as the only other element.  You can show me a thousand digital mattes and not a one would, for me, have the life, energy or just plain sense of wonder as a painting like this.  Incidentally, the Heritage site stated this to be an Al Whitlock painting which it's not.  Just sayin'.  

Close up 

More detail, with the sense of backlight being an absolute plus, as well as a clue as to who Syd's mentor was.  Whitlock so often composed his shots with this sort of backlight to brilliant effect.

Still more detail.  Would you expect anything less from NZ Pete?  No... seriously, would you??
I'd donate a lung and a kidney to own this masterpiece.

Listed as Devil's Due, Ventax II from STAR TREK-THE NEXT GENERATION.  See below for composite.

The final on screen composite.

This one's from STAR TREK-DEEP SPACE 9 and was listed as Cardassia Prime.  It's rough and unfinished look suggests perhaps either an unused shot of one that might appear on a monitor or something, with little need for detail?

From an episode of STAR TREK-THE NEXT GENERATION, I think this might be a Robert Stromberg matte as I have pics of him working on it.

The show stopping Geidi Prime matte painting from the opulent, yet flawed DUNE (1985)

Some detail of the area where a few extras would ultimately be doubled in.

More detail than you can shake a stick at.  Additional elements would later be doubled in during matte photography.

From STAR TREK-DEEP SPACE 9 and labelled as Teplan.

Closer view of art.

Dutton, at left, confers with matte cameraman Mark Sawicki as foreground miniatures are positioned in readiness for the shooting of a mammoth BATMAN FOREVER establishing shot of Gotham City.

Syd's impressive BATMAN FOREVER (1995) matte, which must have been among the very last ever traditional mattes put together by Illusion Arts.  It has a very Dick Tracy flavour to it.

You want detail?? ... You can't handle the detail!!!!

A superb piece of matte art rendered by the traditional means, from a show that was almost entirely a 'digital' matte show - the excellent Rutger Hauer HBO telemovie FATHERLAND (1994).  The wide painting served as a pan across a 1960's Berlin that still had Hitler running the joint!  God forbid!

'Achtung!... Ve haf vays hof makink you enjoy traditional matte art!'

More Dutton matte art from STAR TREK-THE NEXT GENERATION, described as Angosia by the auction house.

Closer look makes it all look so easy!

This one's from STAR TREK VOYAGER - a series I've never even heard of.  The note says it's 'Caretaker Ocampa Underground' which undoubtedly means something to die-hard Trekkies.  I think Robert Stromberg may have painted this one too (see below).

Illusion Arts matte painter Robert Stromberg who is now an Oscar winning production designer and has directed a couple of big features too.  Note the foreground miniatures that would lend depth to the final shot.

Detail from the STAR TREK VOYAGER matte art.

The last of the mattes is this one from STAR TREK-THE NEXT GENERATION.


I'd often seen the film mentioned in reference books but until recently had never found it.  TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL (1935) - which by the way was just titled THE TUNNEL in England, it's country of origin - proved to be a most satisfying piece of science fiction that was years ahead of its time in so many ways.

Some of the many examples of ad-art the film received, with a special note to the somewhat jarring - yet effective Spanish ad campaign shown at lower left.  

The film was a modest affair by all accounts, made by Gaumont British Picture Corporation, but it is actually a very good picture indeed, especially for it's day.  Yes, I was impressed.  If you (like me) enjoy vintage cinema from long ago, then this comes well recommended.  If, however, you are of the Marvel era generation you're bound to not in the least be interested.  I know which I belong to.

American star Richard Dix was brought over to bolster box office appeal, and Walter Huston (father of John) also came on board as the US President, which has just got to be a better deal than you know who.  As an aside, when it comes to actors playing The President, I reckon the best was Fredric March in the chilling SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (1964), followed closely by Henry Fonda in Sidney Lumet's brilliant FAIL SAFE (1964) ... though, I digress.

The film had no special effects men credited, though the primary contributors were the aforementioned Filippo Guidobaldi, who as you'll be aware specialised in miniatures - of which there are many.  Also on the effects crew was Jack Whitehead, who was an effects cinematographer who specialised in process shots.  The only other name I can find was someone called 'A.Stroppa' - about whom, I know nothing.  This rare photo from an ancient magazine shows the effects crew rigging a forced perspective model shot.  See below.

One of the perspective, or hanging, miniature shots featured in the film.  The movie had, what I'd describe as, outstanding visual effects work the whole way through.  In fact I was quite stunned at the quality and substance of the trick work and found it hard to believe it had been produced in 1935, and in a small British studio.  
TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL is the third version of the same narrative - the massive enterprise in drilling a giant tunnel all the way under the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to America - with a very early 1913 German version, as well as a later 1931 German/French affair.  There were reports that the British 1935 version lifted SFX shots out of the 1931 German print, though I've seen that one and nothing seems similar to me at all (unless I blinked and missed something?).  If anything, the 1931 one is the more realistic only inasmuch as it relies upon genuine looking tunnellers hard at work, slogging it out underground, largely unaided by futuristic equipment, almost doco style.  That said, the German film industry were experts at the use of hanging miniatures and Shufftan processes in early cinema, but I really never saw anything similar.

Crane down on miniature tower and city scape to reveal massive sort of 'Big Brother' styled television broadcast announcing impending tunnel project.  As with all of the model work in the film, it's very impressive, both in construction and in photography, with excellent depth of field in all of the miniature shots, which is not at all common in films of that era.

The technology is all there, though just what the supposed 'year' the story occurs in, we're never told, other than a mention of the Channel Tunnel from France to Britain being completed successfully way back in 1940 (!) - so maybe this takes place in the late 50's or so?  The film made much more of an impression on me than the similarly dated THINGS TO COME.

There are a myriad of scenes showing speeding railcars hurtling through the incomplete undersea tunnel.  These shots are phenomenal and have me baffled.  Not only are they superbly engineered and constructed (I assume they are very large miniatures?), but the camera swerves around into the tunnel just as the railcar speeds by, or in other shots swerves out of the way of an approaching vehicle.  Even replaying these scenes I can't fault them.

Depth of field is spot on, which is usually a dead give away with such work.  Lighting also perfect.  Wow!
This production still taken during the making shows the degree of detail in Filippo Guidobaldi's set.

The construction is interrupted by political in-fighting and money problems - not to mention a steadily rising death toll among workers.  Here, our leading man flies to the US on a sort of early helicopter, landing on the roof of a skyscraper.
A production still of the miniature set, though the heli-craft looks decidedly 'naff' when seen with too much illumination.

One of a number of hanging miniature set ups that greatly enhance the already very impressive art direction by Erno Metzner

There are many shots involving massive machines grinding away and rolling into position, most likely all executed with foreground, or hanging miniatures, and all expertly photographed.  I wonder whether Gerry Anderson or Derek Meddings ever grew up on this film as many shots have a 'Century 21' flavour to them.

Model tunnel under construction

Giant bulkheads to stop seawater bursting on through.

Model set and live action combined with rear process.

Members of the Houses of Parliament keep a watch on the proceedings via their 'televisor' (everyone seems to have one).  Probably a matte painted set extension or hanging miniature filling half the frame here.

The US President stays in touch with his British counterpart via 'televisor'.

Set enhanced with foreground models including an overhead monorail that transports workers through the tunnel.

The cockpit of the giant drilling machine which uses a 'radium drill' to slice through the bedrock.  These shots look great as we get to see the operator climb up the ladder and go inside what I presume to be a model.

Motor mechanics and specialist engineers urgently required.  Apply within.

You can almost hear Barry Gray's fantastic Thunderbirds underscore with these scenes as this machinery rolls into place.

Now, some clever pencil pushing bastard forgot to mention the fact that the route of the aforementioned tunnel runs straight through a massive volcano under the ocean floor!!  The equipment hasn't been tested on such obstacles but heroes Richard Dix and Leslie Banks will give it a go anyhow.
Temperatures are rising...

The massive engine strains under the oppressive heat, which reaches a sweltering 155 degrees, though whether that's that half arsed 'fahrenheit' or the far more civilised 'celsius' is anybody's guess.
The whole set piece is pretty intense actually, and must have really got audiences shifting uncomfortably in their seats back in '35.

"I wished I'd never had a pocket loaded with Mars Bars.  What the hell was I thinking?"

Although not clear here, they do in fact break through to where the Yanks are drilling on the other side.  Either a glass shot with people in the middle or a foreground miniature.

"One small step for man..."

The reception committee on the United States side of the Atlantic...

...and the British reception committee on the other side, though curiously, both places look identical to me, just flopped back to front with actors wearing different costumes.  Anyway, hanging miniature work at play here again.

All's well that ends well...


Some very cool alternate ad-art for the Paul Verhoeven sci-fi cult hit, ROBOCOP (1987)

An enjoyable satire, packed with mayhem and over the top action, ROBOCOP was a dazzling display of photographic effects trickery from start to finish, with the highly regarded Peter Kuran and his VCE optical house supervising the rollout of effects shots that ran that gamut from excellent stop motion animation, traditional matte painting, optical combinations and more.... and that doesn't even count the mind boggling number of physical effects and special make up work.  Should have been up for Oscar consideration in the visual FX category, but don't get me started on friggen' Oscar injustices!

Top pics show VFX supervisor Peter Kuran, a specialist in optical cinematography and decades worth of jaw dropping cel animated and roto gags on scores of memorable films.  I'm a massive fan of his work and count shows like George Lucas' original STAR WARS (1977) - the only 'real' SW flick for me - where he pretty much got his start, animating countless lasers, blasts and very subtle roto enhancement on composite shots for so much of the show it just staggers the mind.  Among his other credits, I loved his extensive work in the neat little post-apocalyptic thriller DREAMSCAPE (1984) and his completely low-tech, hands-on title sequence for John Carpenter's THE THING (1982) to name but two titles.  Also pictured here (bottom row) is animator and all round VFX expert Harry Walton, at work on a couple of sequences.  Harry is one of those broadly talented trick men who can paint glass shots, shoot miniatures, execute rotoscope mattes and cel animation and handle optical compositing!  Harry started off way back in the early seventies on the Rick Baker monster flick OCTAMAN (1971) and later worked for years as one of Cascade's effects staffers, alongside people like Jim Danforth and Dennis Muren, and had a very successful career with numerous effects houses such as ILM on massive shows such as WILLOW, HOOK and TERMINATOR 2 to name just a few.  Harry is also an avid follower of this very blog and has been most helpful to NZPete with questions and images in the past.
Chief stop motion animator Phil Tippett - a key creative contributor to the success of ROBOCOP, is shown here at work on one of the brilliantly orchestrated SMA cuts.  Phil's animation still looks a million dollars all these years later.  I first became aware of Phil from his brief 'chess game' sequence in the first STAR WARS back in '77, and again shortly afterward with a memorable bit in the Corman film PIRANHA which stuck with me (great little flick actually!).  Tippett would quickly rack up a healthy list of top shelf titles, and even if the titles were lacking somewhat, Phil's stop motion was always reason enough to see the film.  Some fine Tippett stop motion work was to be found in DRAGONSLAYER (1981) which was groundbreaking in it's development and application of 'Go-Motion' - an entirely new slant on the time honoured stop frame methods of old which delivered an astonishing new level of movement to puppets.  Phil had much to do later on with the final look of JURASSIC PARK, which although a CG enterprise by the time it reached the screen, began as much as a stop motion project.

Tippett at work on some of the confrontational ED 209 animated sequences.

I discussed the career of matte artist Rocco Gioffre in my last blog.  Here we see Rocco with one of his seven mattes created for ROBOCOP.  Rocco had, for a few years, shared a studio with fellow matte painter Mark Sullivan, with the pair often working side by side on a number of films, ROBOCOP included.  Mark rendered a pair of dynamic mattes for the film, though only one - the epic downview that concludes the film - made the final cut.  

Gioffre puts some finishing touches onto his evening view of the Omni Consumer Products building.

The finished composite proves to be an invisible effects shot.

A rare photo of one of Rocco's original paintings prior to the adding of an actual live action elevator element.
The completed shot of the 70 story elevator shaft.  A remarkable matte shot, beautifully designed and painted, with flawless compositing.  All of the mattes in the film were made on original negative excepting the two elevator shots as they required a substantial reduction of the live action plate on the optical printer so as to rescale the action to fit. Robbie Blalack's optical house, Praxis Film Works made the dupes.

An alternate angle of the 70 floor shaft and elevator required another Gioffre painting.  The live action material was filmed at the Plaza of the Americas' in Dallas, Texas, with substantial set extension added as a matte shot, once again to brilliant effect.

The finished shot as seen in this wonderful BluRay frame.  Just stunning!

The O.C.P headquarters skyscraper was, in reality, nothing of the sort.  A mere six storey building served perfectly as the main focal point due to it's odd futuristic design.  Rocco would paint in a great many more floors as well as other non-existant high rise structures.  I spoke with Rocco many years ago about this and he mentioned having regrets at having sold off all of his ROBOCOP mattes years ago.

Another splendid BluRay frame demonstrates the crisp original negative, first generation result.

A clearer look at the matte work in progress.
New Detroit, or Delta City courtesy of Rocco and his paintbrush.

Before and after of Delta City in the year 2020 (!!)  In an interview about the film for Cinefex magazine, Gioffre described his work:  "The usual technique that I employ is original camera negative compositing.  This involves going on location with a camera crew, very sturdily locking off your camera, and then masking off the portion of the frame which will later be replaced with the painted artwork.  On ROBOCOP the paintings themselves were about 30 x 40 inches in size, which is about the norm for a locked off shot. They were done on masonite [hardboard], my preference over glass.  Glass is a bit heavier than masonite, and if you drop a glass matte, there's not only the danger of injury, but more of a chance you'll lose your whole painting.  If you drop masonite you might scratch your painting, but that's it.  Usually I do my paintings in oil.  Every once in a while I'll do some work in acrylics, like an underpainting, but primarily I prefer brush painting and oils - no airbrushing or anything like that."

Another dizzying downview, possibly a printed down dupe of the earlier daylight shot.

Rocco's associate Mark Sullivan was responsible for this incredible full matte painting for the film's dramatic climax.  Mark painted two mattes - the other was of the skyscraper at sunset - though this was the only one to make the final edit.  *Thanks to Mark for letting me have this wonderful photo and the one below.

Close up detail from Mark's phenomenal matte art.  Added realism was made possible by creating moving traffic on some of the painted streets below.  In a Cinefex interview Gioffre stated:  "When we photographed the painting, I added some animated traffic to help sell the shot.  It was all pretty low tech really.  I provided little painted facsimiles of cars - about an eighth-of-an-inch long, which were taped right onto the painting itself.  Then I'd get in there between frames and push them along at about a sixth-of-an-inch per frame per shot."

'You sure got a real purdy mouth' ...oh, sorry, wrong Ronny Cox movie(!)  Anyway, our villain tumbles out the window to his death in a multi-element trick shot involving matte art, motion painted traffic and an immaculately dressed puppet.

"Oh, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhit"

In addition to painting most of the mattes for the film, Rocco Gioffre also created and animated the Ronny Cox puppet for the death scene.  Much work went into the construction of the puppet, with a specialist hired to make the suit which had tiny aluminium wires inserted within the coat and pants legs to permit not just the articulated puppet to be stop frame animated but also areas of his clothing so as to flutter as the wind rushes by.  For the puppet itself Rocco stated to Cinefex magazine:  "I began by sculpting a two foot tall figure, molded after Ronny Cox.  The puppet itself was equipped with only thick aluminium wire.  The original plan was to have a full ball and socket armature but with the time constraints we had I ended up using just wire.  We shot it on a motion control rig at David Stipes Productions using a Mitchell camera against a 12 x 20 foot frontlit blue screen.  The shot was set up as a continuous pullback, starting with the puppet right up against the lens - a 15mm wide angle - and then going back a full 30 feet.  Robert Bailey was then responsible for the blue screen compositing with our second element, Mark Sullivan's matte painting."


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

The immediate sequel, ROBOCOP 2 (1991) wasn't as good as the original though it was entertaining and packed in a truckload of great visual effects, from a very large team, mostly the same folks as the first film.  This photo shows animator Harry Walton in the midst of a stop motion action scene.

A number of animators worked on the film such as Phil Tippett, Randy Dutra, Pete Kleinow, Tom St.Amand and others.  Interestingly, it was matte painter and all round effects guy Mark Sullivan who animated this and about a dozen more shots of the Cain robot - "The bad guy with the snow plow head", as Mark described him to me.
Once again, Rocco Gioffre was brought back on board to render a few matte shots such as this dynamite one of the O.C.P headquarters as seen in a fresh vantage point this time around.  Until I got a hold of a photo from Rocco a few years ago of the actual painted matte (which was for sale), I had no idea the scene was a trick shot!!  Imagine!!  

A more splendidly realised piece of painted realism you are never likely to see!  Love it!

I'm so thrilled whenever I get the chance to see before and after clips.  It just makes life worth living.

The glorious, and completely invisible finished photographic effect.  Who'd have known?

Another painted matte that slips by unnoticed.  I don't know who did this as I note the Craig Barron firm Matte World and artist Michael Pangrazio did some work on the film, so perhaps it's theirs?

Part of a news break on tv, hence the deliberate scan lines, this nuclear reactor is looking decidedly 'dodgy' (non-compliant to you Americans).  A Rocco Gioffre matte shot.

An earlier test frame from the same sequence set in the Brazilian rainforest.  Gioffre shot a live action portion of the frame in the Los Angeles Arboretum, with palm fronds and some trees, which were then combined on original negative with a painting of the nuclear reactor.  Additional elements such as smoke painted on a separate foreground glass which was moved slowly during photography and split screened by matte cameraman Paul Curley to move behind the foreground trees, in addition to a bi-packed fire element.

Mark Sullivan also painted on ROBOCOP 2, with this scene from an exciting fx sequence where two robots face off and scrap to the death atop skyscrapers. Mark described the set up to me:  "My painting here of the office buildings was done on glass.  A clear area of the glass allowed the camera to see a miniature of the rooftop edge and facade of the building, which is closer and on the right side of the frame.  The animation puppets were positioned on the miniature building roof edge.  I had used this approach before on other films to combine miniature, painted and stop motion elements all in camera."   The glass shot set up was done at Phil Tippett's studio.

The finished shot, done entirely in camera with Mark's fabulous matte painted city and the miniature components as one.  Mark's painting was based upon a series of still photographs taken in San Francisco by Rick Fichter.  

Often described as another matte painting, this - and several other night views in the same sequence - were in fact large photo blow ups and mock ups that were done by technicians at Phil Tippett's Studio.  They were rigged with back light slot gags as an additional effect.

The photo mock up that was passed over to an auction house as a matte painting, though Mark Sullivan informed me that it wasn't one.

Photo collage backing.
I'm a sucker for extreme perspective matte shots, though this isn't one in the true sense of the word, rather a cut and paste of carefully selected photographic elements, arranged to give the sense of a building 150 floors in height.

More of the same.  Photographic prints of buildings were reproduced and carefully pasted over the original to greatly extend the elevation and extreme perspective.  The paste up was mounted on gatorboard and additional gags were introduced such as twinkling lights and moving traffic far below. 

I think the shots look great and work a treat in the action packed punch up. An additional filmed element consisting of crowds of onlookers was projected onto the photo paste up. 

A massive tilt down takes place, which required much careful planning and execution by Rocco Gioffre and Mark Sullivan. A building that was relatively small in stature was greatly expanded upon courtesy of matte artist Rocco Gioffre, with the need to execute an extensive tilt down camera move all the way down the artwork and onto some live action at street level.  

The upper most portion of the large six foot tall matte painting as the tilt down begins.  A VistaVision plate of the live action at street level was projected  on a two foot screen at the bottom edge of the painting (not shown here).

The tilt was shot as a stop motion camera move by Mark Sullivan.  Gioffre elaborated to Cinefex magazine in 1990:  "It would have been nice to have a motion control setup for that, but we didn't have one available at the time so Mark did it by manually computing increments, using a gunsight on the pan and tilt head of the camera.  Mark had an arc drawn out off camera on the right hand side of the painting, and then he lined up the gunsight crosshairs to that and viewed through the sight while he was doing the tilt down.  He'd fire a frame and then advance to the next position.  It was about a two or three second exposure, so Mark could actually do a gradual blur by just moving the handles on the pan and tilt head while he was viewing.  We shot it with a standard 35mm Mitchell camera."

The tilt down continues...

...and continues, with a subtle camera gag introduced as a beam of blue searchlight which was in fact a piece of steel rod manipulated very closely to the matte camera lens while being illuminated by a small lightbulb.  The closeness of the rod made it deliberately 'out of focus' so that it looked like an actual searchlight beam moving across the building.

The complex shot comes to an end as the camera reaches the VistaVision live action rear projected plate.  Rocco borrowed Mark's special process projector to pull off the shot.


I'm a massive fan of tales and especially true accounts of escape and evasion during the Second World War in Europe.  All fascinating stuff.  This film, THE SEVENTH CROSS (1944), directed by a young Fred Zinnemann, is an excellent, taut story - set in 1936 - of a persecuted man on the run from the newly emerging Nazi party for being a supposed 'enemy of the state'. 
No effects credit but being MGM Warren Newcombe would definitely have been running the matte side of things.

There are just a few matte shots but I want to illustrate them here, particularly as I have a very nice photo below of this wonderful painting.

Glorious matte art, largely executed with fine tipped pastel crayon, as was the tried and true Newcombe department method,  by an artist unknown, though some of the names working for Newcombe at the time included Howard Fisher, Rufus Harrington, Henri Hillinck and others.

Matte art provides upper part of German village and sky.

Spencer finds sanctuary from the ever present Gestapo, who have a 'cross' all prepared for his impending execution - one of the seven German 'enemies of the state' who escaped a domestic concentration camp, with hi m being the only escapee still evading capture.  A very good film, with solid support from the always excellent character actor, Hume Cronyn.

Tracy finds safety and solitude in the church as a massive thunderstorm rages outside.  A superbly drawn and worked matte painting.

A chase ensues across the rooftops of the German town as the Gestapo close in.  Upper part an MGM set and painted backing, while all else immediately below the roofline being a Newcombe department matte painting.

A gigantic leap of faith pays off ... or does it?  See the movie.


MAGNIFICENT DOLL (1946) is a mildly interesting period costumer with much political manipulation and devious deeds along the way leading to Thomas Jefferson getting into the, still under construction, White House.

No effects credit, but at that period David Stanley Horsley would have been in charge of the Universal photographic effects department, with Russell Lawson as matte painter.

Matte art extends from the upper half of the foreground pillars and encompasses the walls, ceiling and probably the top bit of the hanging chandeliers.  The matte line is just visible. 

More matte art, presumably by Russ Lawson, of a far simpler time.  The cloud work is a bit too exaggerated here.

This shot is rather good, and I had to review it several times to be sure.  Much of this scene has been painted in with the matte extending just above the door on the left, across and down along the floor where the carpet ends.  All of the wall and background foyer area with it's staircase and the archway have been painted.  Just the sort of trick shot I like.

This shot is a very well executed set extension with upper walls and ceiling with it's suspended chandeleir all painted in quite skillfully.  I suspect the matte blend runs along the line of the sunlight rays across the back wall.

All above the hedge row painted in.

Now, this one's a doozy.  The White House under construction, with a great amount of the frame here being matte art, with just a small 'wedge' of live action down front.

A tour of the as yet unfinished White House, with someone's dirty laundry hanging out to dry!  Hardly becoming for what will be the Presidential abode.  Much of this shot being painted of course.

Another matte extended grand ballroom from MAGNIFICENT DOLL.

The last trick shot in the film may be a miniature?  Then again, matte art would be more cost effective I'd say.


The hugely successful Ayn Rand novel was transformed into a big budget, effects filled epic by Warner Bros in 1949.  A sprawling saga of ambition, greed, corporate hi-jinks, lust and a hell of a lot of very tall buildings.

The movie was a massive photographic effects showcase for Warner Bros, who luckily, had a large and extremely well staffed and equipped special effects department that was known as 'Stage 5'.  THE FOUNTAINHEAD was made right at the tail end of Stage 5's glory years, where anything, and everything a director envisioned, could be created and put up there on the screen.  The very large effects crew was headed by William C. McGann, who was head of Warner's camera department, and supervised trick shots from the mid 1940's to the early 1950's.  Edwin DuPar, a highly experienced visual effects cinematographer whose career went back to the Mack Sennett one-reeler days.  After three years with Sennett and an interlude at Fox, DuPar was recruited by Fred Jackman in 1920 to join Warners as an effects cameraman, and would work his entire career at that studio on countless films, with the James Cagney musical bio-pic YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) being his absolute highpoint in my opinion.  Additional key crew on THE FOUNTAINHEAD included veteran trick shot man Hans F. Koenekamp - a man that former Warners effects chief and future feature director, Byron Haskin would call "the greatest effects man of them all".  Among Hans' hundreds of film credits he was most proud of the horror picture THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946) where disembodied hands play a piano and strangle star. Peter Lorre.  It's great work folks!  As for John Holden, I know very little, other than he was for a time effects supervisor on some films at Warners, though he appeared to specialise is special effects art direction - and THE FOUNTAINHEAD was a film top heavy in that respect.  Numerous matte artists worked on the film, and I'll detail them subsequently.

A squad of matte artists painted on this film, with this matte - prepared for the film's trailer - being the work of Chesley Bonestell.  Bonestell had studied architecture and in the early thirties was assistant to the chief engineer of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge doing engineering drawings.  As far as I can discover, Chesley first became a matte artist in 1939 at RKO Studios where he painted shots for THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and a year later for Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE (1940) and his later THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1941).  Chesley would move from studio to studio and work on all manner of film projects.  At Fox he painted on HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) and much later at Paramount he would provide the astronomical artwork for several George Pal pictures such as WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953).  Most of his film work was done for Warner Bros, with some memorable and highly complex matte wizardry to be seen in both RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1945) and the film THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (1944) which featured a staggering tour-de-force panoramic matte composite which saw the film nominated for the effects.  Later on, Bonestell became famous for his research and publications focusing on the universe and planetary paintings, with a retrospective of this work exhibited just recently.

Some of the visual effects crew:  top left is Chesley Bonestell; top middle is Hans Koenekamp; top right is Mario Larrinaga;  bottom left; Edwin DuPar;  bottom middle Paul Detlefsen;  bottom right unidentified Warners matte artist.

An interesting pic of costar Raymond Massey in his lavish office set on the Warners sound stage while the scenery guys fit the vast painted backing.

Top left is star Gary Cooper with what might be one of the matte paintings in the background.  Bottom left is one of SFX Art Director John Holden's drawings for a proposed matte shot.  At right Gary Cooper observes as members of the art department demonstrate the finer points to architecture.

A series of architectural drawings as shown in the film, purportedly designed by the Cooper character - all of which will later be matched with elaborate matte painted shots and miniatures.
High drama, high emotions and often in high places!  Much lusting and treachery afoot amidst corporate greed and self destructive  meltdowns - but hey, I liked the movie.

The Chesley Bonestell matte art as it appears in the feature film.

Another Bonestell matte shot where the top half of the frame has been painted in seamlessly.

The film is literally packed with excellent matte shots, with several top form artists on board to turn out all of the work.  Chief matte artist at Warners was Paul Detlefsen - the son of Danish immigrants studied at the Chicago Art Institute and the Academy of Fine Arts.  Paul had initially wanted to get into cartoon animation work though became a scenic backing painter, and by default, fell into glass shot painting for director Cecil B.DeMille and Douglas Fairbanks.  Paul worked on silent pictures such as DANCER OF THE NILE (1923) - a film now thought lost - among many others.  Paul came to RKO in 1929 and helped create the famous RKO logo.  He got a call from Warner Bros in the early thirties to work on a Michael Curtiz picture CABIN IN THE COTTON (1932), with the director himself outwardly showing he had absolutely no faith in Paul's ability!  When Paul turned in a matte shot of vast cotton fields surrounding Bette Davis' small cabin, he had engineered an in-camera gag where he created subtle movement in the trees to the utter astonishment of the outspoken Curtiz, who then insisted Jack Warner put Detlefsen under a contract at once!  That was the start of a long and successful career with that studio right up until Paul's retirement in 1950.  Incidentally, that cotton field matte was so popular it ended up in countless other movies for years, even non-Warner pictures!  Go figure!

In an interview many years ago, Paul Detlefsen stated that the unsung hero for the sucess of so many matte shots at Warner Bros was long time matte cinematographer John Crouse.  Both Paul and John would be Oscar nominated in 1944 for their work in THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN.

More mattes than you can shake a fist at.

A dramatic pull back from one of Cooper's glass and steel creations - all an elaborate trick shot naturally.

Another well known matte painter who worked on THE FOUNTAINHEAD was Mario Larrinaga.  Mario, born in Mexico, was taught to paint by his brother Juan.  He  started off as a technical artist and illustrator in 1916 at Universal Studios where he also painted miniatures and scenic backings.  Mario drifted into glass shots during the silent era and really found his place when hired by visionary trick pioneer Willis O'Brien at RKO for the film CREATION (1930) and was a key member of O'Bie's creative team for the classic, never to be beaten, KING KONG (1933) in which he provided a great deal of conceptual art as well as extraordinary multi-plane glass paintings that still to this day represent the medium at it's best.  Larrinaga would work between RKO and Warner Bros for the remainder of his film career and, alongside Chesley Bonestell, contributed mattes to CITIZEN KANE and big Warner Bros pictures such as MILDRED PIERCE and SAN ANTONIO (both 1945) and Hitchcock's UNDER CAPRICORN (1949).

Yet another matte painter was engaged to complete the multitude of mattes.  Louis Litchtenfield began as an illustrator for the legendary Production Designer William Cameron Menzies at the Selznick International Pictures studio. Under Menzies he helped design prospective matte shots for photographic effects supervisor Jack Cosgrove on the epic GONE WITH THE WIND (1939).  Following his WWII service, Lou sought work at various Hollywood studios where he painted mattes and glass shots at Columbia and RKO where he would use the time to study the different methods each matte department employed.  One such film was the Willis O'Brien stop motion classic MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) where he teamed with three other matte exponents in producing superb jungle glass shots, which would ultimately see the film take home the Best Special Effects Oscar that year.  Lou moved toWarners for THE FOUNTAINHEAD and then over to MGM for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951) and other films.  Lou transferred back to Warners for the rest of his career, more or less, and painted on big films such as HELEN OF TROY (1955) for which he was also supervisor of special photographic effects.  Later films included FLASH GORDON in 1980.

According to Matthew Yuricich - who was friends with Lou Litchtenfield - they had an issue with one of these paintings whereby an emergency fix was urgently called for.  Apparently the finished painting was starting to 'run', with overly diluted pigment slowly dribbling down the otherwise finished artwork.  As composite photography loomed the next morning, Lou and Mario had to come in and clean up and repaint the smudged sections in time for the camera.  I don't know if this matte is the one, other than it being described as similar to this.

More matte artistry as Gary Cooper's building boom goes sky-high.
'Why the hell didn't I design and fit an elevator?'

Not sure but I suspect the upper part with the floodlights may be painted in later?  

It's High Noon on the construction site.  Process shot.

Subtle matte work with much added in later.

Possibly a large miniature set, complete with model truck.  The trees and distant scenery could possibly be glass painted elements?

Now this matte shot I've always loved, as I'm a sucker for extreme perspective drawing.

Still more flawless matte painted urban add-on's.

I think this view is a large miniature, built for reasons of explosive destruction in a later sequence.

Cooper surveys his creation.  Probably a miniature shot.


Now, this is a cool shot - a large miniature set complete with approaching vehicle, with the camera panning along the action.  FX cinematographer Edwin DuPar would have been chiefly responsible.

The miniature scene in action, with a cut to live action car against a process rear projected miniature set.
Patrica Neal amid the miniature construction site via effective back projection.

All hell breaks loose as the entire building and surrounding construction zone goes up like the 4th of July.

More fictitious architecture matted into city footage and used as a process plate.

It seems that the sky's the limit judging by this near Tower of Babel proportioned skyscraper.  Great shot, though whether it was a large model or superb matte art, I can't tell.  A small elevator can be seen travelling up the building so perhaps it's entirely miniature.

Leading lady Patricia Neal journey's up the worker's elevator to the roof in one dramatic continuous effects shot, where Gary Cooper is shown far in the distance, with the POV gradually moving into extreme close up - from miniature to live action.  

There's Gary way up at the edge of the roof of the (miniature) skyscraper.

Warner's Stage 5 effects team were absolute masters when it came to complex shots like this, as was proven in so many films of the thirties and especially the forties - which were their heyday for grand and inventive camera trickery.  There are just so many shows I've seen from this studio where miniatures, matte art, process plates, live action and even more, are brilliantly combined into incredible, uninterrupted fx sequences.  Some include THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN, THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT, YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN, SVENGALI, RHAPSODY IN BLUE and the grand daddy of all, the eye popping YANKEE DOODLE DANDY to name but a handful.  No other studio was as adept at pulling off these jigsaw puzzle visuals as Warner Bros.

A barely detectable soft 'matte' or blend of some sort can be seen surrounding Gary.

I've never been able to figure out how this was done - and in one continuous move.  Probably some sort of process projected element of Cooper, blended invisibly into a glass painted sky behind the miniature lying on it's side is my best guess??

That's about all for this edition.