miércoles, 1 de agosto de 2018

Four Italian Foreground miniatures.

I have not written anything new for a while, and this time is not about matte painting, but on a very similar perspective trick.
These small epic films also are known as "peplums" used very often perspective trick with foreground miniatures and matte glass paintings. Most of the Italian art directors of that time were very well aware on the use of model tricks.
I enjoy watching these films, mostly for the artistic works, set building, miniatures, matte painting, monsters and fantasy creatures. I have found four  Italian  "Sword and sandal "films  that used the same real location enhanced with foreground hanging miniatures

The real location is  Palazzo della Civiltagrave del Lavoro, Rome. 

The first two films were directed by Pietro Francisci, who had a full knowledge of these perspective tricks.
1. La regina di saba /The Qeen of Seba  (1952)
A huge model miniature of and impressive temple cleverly filmed as a foreground miniature. That big model must be supported from the upper part and left side with an horizontal support. The man on the chariot at right doesn´t move so he can hide the vertical support of the miniature.  The shadow of the model can be seen on the foreground floor.

2. Ercole Sfida sansone / Hercules, Samson & Ulysses (1963)
Another beautiful foreground miniature perfectly matched with the perspective of the first floor of the arches facade. 

3. Messalina  venere imperatrice (1960,Vitorio Cotafavi)
This time is a frontal hanging miniature facade of a temple that covers completely the real building.  The miniature was again hanged from the upper part.

 4. Giants of tesalia / I giganti della  tessaglia (1960 Ricardo Freda)
Another hanging miniature of a temple facade, with an open door from which we can see one of the arches of the original building.  

5. I dieci gladiatori (1963, Gianfranco Parolini) On this occasion they used the location as it really is.

lunes, 19 de junio de 2017

Small daring paintings: Emilio Ruiz del Rio.

He just needed one stick to hold the sheet of cut out aluminum, and he was ready to paint. Then, something to cover the support stick like a rock,  a bush, a pole or just another aluminum portion and make it invisible painting the background landscape.

Emilio Ruiz was very often asked to add some elements to a real location. It could be a castle, a church, a house o whatever.  On his early years, he used the traditional glass shot technique. Which is very suitable for filming inside a studio, but going to the location with a huge sheet of glass is not an easy task, not cheap either, for the low budget films he used to work at. He started to used a very simple method to avoid this problem;  painting on a sheet of cut out metal, thin aluminum.  Depending on the painted element size, he used one or two fastening points. Usually one vertical and another horizontal ( figure2) But sometimes the painted element was so small he  could  be attached with one single  fixing (figure 1) During the sixties and seventies  he became an expert on this kind of small tricks, and he got so much confidence that sometimes he does not even bother to hide the support with a foreground element (rock, bush, etc) and he just paste another aluminum strip and paint  it  with the background colors.  With so many years of experience, Emilio Ruiz knew how far could he get with those tricks.

So,  if you are watching a European coproduction on the sixties or seventies, and suspect something on the background could be a painting if there is a pole, a rock or anything similar on the foreground,  it is very probable you are watching an Emilio Ruiz  "in-camera" miniature painting. 

Talking about daring tricks, this is one if the boldest " in camera" paintings of Emilio Ruiz. For the film  Special mission Lady Chaplin (1966, Alberto De Martino) He painted a building over a hill with an invisible vertical support in the middle of the frame.

Why I ´m so sure? , well I have seen the film, and during a second the trick is exposed when a yellow car  moves on the road that crosses the frame horizontally and goes behind the painting just for a second.
The film is on Youtube, so you can see the trick at the beginning of the film during the title credits at 0: 36


Scherezade (1963, Pierre Gaspard-Huit)

A bullet for Rommel ( 1969, Leon Klimovsky)
They got only four real tanks and the director wanted a column of them. At the central part of the frame,  there is a miniature cut out painting  that hides a small structure with a miniature landscape with a road and small models of tanks moving down the path. 

Kill them and come back alone (1969, Enzo Castellari)
Both views of that ruined church are foreground painted miniatures.

Eagles over London (1969, Enzo Castellari)

A reason to live a reason to die  (1972, Tonino Valerii)

Zorro ( 1975, Duccio Tessari)

The  inglorious Bastards (1978, Enzo Castellari)

There are many more, that ´s just a glimpse of Emilio Ruiz´s art. 

jueves, 12 de mayo de 2016

The North Star (1943)

That Lewis Mileston Drama War film  have many  wonderful  miniatures and matte paintings shots, as many of the Sam Goldwyn films, with Clarence Slifer and Ray Binger credited for the Photographic  effects.  In praise of the impressive visual and artistic imagery on that film we shouldn't forget the name of production designer  William Cameron Menzies who is credited as associate producer.

Matte camera operator Clarence   Slifer was head of photographic effect unit at many films produced by  David Oselznick during the 30´s and 40´s, but also share his duties with Sam Goldwyn films.   Ray Binger was  another  special effects  cinematographer who worked also very often for Sam Goldwyn productions.

Although there is not matte painter credited at "The North Star" Clarence Sliffer  used to work  frequently with the same  group of artists as Jack Cosgrove , Albert Simpson, Jack Shaw, and Fitch Fulton.   I can only guess that  the  excellent matte work on that films was made by some of those artist. 

Some wonderful miniature shots made for the war scenes.

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

Jumping the Chasm

There are many iconic subjects that depict the art of matte paintings.  Probably a castle or fortress on the top of a hill could be the most popular. Apart from other all time matte subjects, the jumping of a huge spectacular chasm has been without a doubt one of the frequent topic under request for matte painters.
We’ve seen people jumping gorges since the silent era. That’s a small overview of some of those great exciting moments of magic on the screen.

 1929    Tide of empire  MGM.
Warren Newcombe was working at MGM matte department since 1925, I guess he must be involved on that shot. Maybe also Ferdinand Pinney Earle who was painting mattes for MGM during the 20´S.

1935. She   RKO Pictures
Vernon L. Walker as Photographic effects supervisor, and Linwood B. Dunn as optical effects, the matte paintings probably were done by Mario Larrinaga and Byron Crabbe

1936 Santa Fe bound
Produced by Reliable Pictures Corporation, there is not  VFX credit of any kind. And I don’t have any idea who could have painted that.

 1944. Ali Babá and the Forty thieves. Universal Pictures
John Fulton was credited as photographic effects. Russell Lawson was head of Universal matte department at that time, and probably with John De Cuir as matte painter assistant.

1948.  Man from Texas   VFX Jack Rabin.
Jack Rabin got credit as matte effects. That film is  before he tamed up with  Irving Block to supply VFX for low budget films. Rabin worked  in several FX department from  Selznick,  Warner bros and T.C. Fox dong miniatures, opticals and matte paintings.  After joined with  Block, most of the matte painting work was done by his partner.

1953.     Rob Roy: The highland Rogue. Disney production.
Matte paintings by Peter Ellenshaw made at  Elstree Studios in London with Albert Whitlock as matte assistant.

1954 . Passion. RKO. Pictures
No FX credit but probably Albert Maxwell Simpson, who was working for RKO during those years.

1957. Zorro rides into terror  (TV series Zorro)    Disney
Peter Ellenshaw was in charge of the matte paintings.

1957. Zorro secret passage  (TV series Zorro)  Disney
Again  mattes by Peter Ellenshaw.

1962.     Taras Bulba. United artist . 
Although it was Russell Lawson credited on that film, and he was responsible for most of the matte paintings on that show, Albert Whitclock was commissioned by Howard Anderson Company to execute the paintings for the gorge horse jumping.

 1964    Cheyenne Autumn  Warner. Bros
No FX credit on that film, but  probably  the matte work was by Lou Lichtenfield head of matte paintings at Warner Studios.

1972. Evil Roy Slade Universal Pictures
Albert Whitlock credited as head of matte department at Universal Studios.

1986    Solarbabies  VFX by Boos film Studios.
Veteran matte artist  Mat Yuricich was supervisor of  matte paintings with Michelle Moen as matte assistant.

 1994.       On deadly ground  
Roco Gioffre, former Yuricich assistant, was responsible for those matte paintings.

There are much more matte paintings on that jumping issue.  That was just a representative small selection.

viernes, 19 de junio de 2015

Don Q Son of Zorro (1925)

Director: Donald Crisp
Cinematography:  Henry Sharp
Master of properties: Harold MacChesney
Lighting effects: William S. Johnson
Technical effects: Ned Mann

Matte painting: Conrad Tritschler (uncredited)

Ned Mann was  an all around FX supervisor but mostly his work was involved with miniatures. I assume some of the above images are hanging miniatures because Ned Mann used to work with expert miniature
maker Ross Jacklin.

When Ned Mann went to  England hired by Alexander Korda  to supervise FX for his films, he took  Jacklin with him to make  foreground miniatures for The Things to come

British Opical effects master Tom Howard talks about Nedd Mann miniature effect at he book   "Movie Magic. The story of special effects in the cinema."
 By John Brosnan.

“Mann's team of Americans included a famous miniature hanger called Ross Jacklin, whose one skill was to build foreground miniatures which you could pan and tilt a camera over yet still keep them married into a full-size set”

Conrad Tritschler is one of those old time matte painters from the silent era whose work remains almost unknown.  He was a British scenic and backdrop painter for Stage Theatre. He moved to USA at 1923 to work for Richard Walton Tully productions on films like Trilby (1923) and Flowing Gold (1924) where  he painted sets and backdrops.

Sometime during the late twenties and early thirties he went to work for Howard Anderson Company to execute glass and matte paintings on films like White Zombie (1932) or The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) He died in London at 1939. 

Those two images I think could be hanging miniatures.

Conrad Tritschler matte painting.

Before and after from one of the Tritschler matte paintings.