viernes, 31 de mayo de 2013

The flame and the arrow.

Although my first intention with this Blog is to show matte effects from not so well known films, I can’t resist, from time to time, dedicating some space to not so obscure films. In this case I want to pay tribute to one of the most enjoyable action adventure film from the old times. One of my favourites at least alongside with Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood (1939), is The Flame and the Arrow (1950), with Burt Lancaster on his best acrobatics for an action film.

Directed by Jacques Tourneur, and produces by Warner Bros.  Matte paintings by Lou Lichtenfield, who became head of FX department at Warner some years later at middle 50´s. 
Two beautiful set extension with nigh sky for the final castle scene.


jueves, 23 de mayo de 2013

Ilya Muromets and Sadko. Miniatures and mattes

Two Russian epic films full of perspective tricks with model miniatures and paintings. Both directed by Alexandr Putshko.

Ilya Muromets (The sword and the dragon, 1956) with Yevgeni Svidetelev as FX art director and Boris Travkin and Aleksei Renkov as FX cinematography. 
 There are many background miniatures, with some matte shots and split screen composites. 
  Those kinds of perspective tricks are usual at Russian films during the 50´s and 60´s. They were accomplished craftsmen in the use of miniatures and matte shots. Two samples of background miniatures.
  Matte paintings used to complete and enhance some scenic art.
 The Dragon as a flying miniature and a full size mechanical creature.
 Two matte paintings of distant city walls.
At all the Russian films I have seen, matte paintings were uncredited. I don’t know a single Russian matte painter, unless the FX art director was responsible for that work.   If there is any Russian FX artists who known anything on who made what on these old epic films, I would be very grateful to learn about it

The second film is Sadko (The magic Voyage of Sinbad, 1953)  Again with Yevgeni Svidetelev, this time as production Designer, and  Sergei Mukhim as responsible for Special effcts.
A painting of a city matted into footage of a real location.
Hanging miniature of the city enhancing the wall set.

A miniature set with a painted fantasy city probably filmed on a water tank.

Two more samples of foreground hanging miniatures perfectly matching the walls of the city.

martes, 14 de mayo de 2013

Ray Harryhausen forgotten mattes

Ray Harryhausen, animation and VFX master passed away last week.  He is without a doubt the most influential FX artist in film history, and his heritage will last forever.

There are tributes on sites and Blogs dedicated to Harryhausen. But there are just a few that bring into focus the matte painting works on Harryhausen films.
Most recently Peter Cook has assembled wonderful tribute to Ray’s matte paintings on his Blog.

I also have on my site a special place for Harryhausen mattes and miniatures.

 After taking a look at Peter´s Blog and to my site, I have seen we’ve forget some small paintings and matte shots, I´, going to show here as a little homage to one of my all time movie heroes.
At the Golden voyage of Sinbad, Harryhausen took advantage of Spanish matte artists Emilio Ruiz del Rio to execute some in camera foreground paintings. Those pictures have been showed already, buy there are two more vies of the coast and Moravia city walls that are less known.

This view of Moravia city looks like a matte painting added later on postproduction, and doesn’t match the style of Emilio Ruiz.
This coastal view could be done as a foreground painting by Emilio Ruiz with a small portion of a miniature ship close to the camera, out of focus. 
I also noticed at Clash of the titans three different views for the temple of the three blind witches. I think two of them were miniatures matted in, but for a far away view if a long shot it looks more like a small painting. 
 There is also a view of Medusa’s island that I also believe is a matte painting rather than a miniature. The paintings should be done by Cliff Culley who was on charge of miniature effects. 

This matte painting of Baghdad was not originally made for the Harryhausen film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad by Columbia Pictures.  On his biography book, Ray didn’t remember from what film it was taken.  It was a Universal film “The veils of Baghdad” (1953)

Probably the matte painting was from Russell Lawson head of Universal matte department at that time.

At The 7th voyage of Sinbad it appears another matte painting that was taken from another film. The Island and the ship are all painted. Probably from another Columbia film. I don’t know the title of the original movie, but I hope to find it someday.

viernes, 10 de mayo de 2013

Slaves of Balylon

Slaves of Babylon (1953) another film produced by Columbia pictures.  A weird biblical- adventure pastiche movie directed by William Castle.  Low budget sets and lots of matte paintings. 
Jack Erickson credited for special effects. Matte paintings are again uncredited and no idea who was the painter on that show, but I think these attractive and colourful paintings are worth a look.

Matte paintings from Columbia Pictures remains  a mystery, with only a handful of artist  known to have painted on its films during the 40´s.  The odds are that during the 50´s and 60´s they may have hire freelance matte painters or artists from other Studios.

Most certainly  the same artist who paint mattes for Serpent of the Nile.


10- May -2013

jueves, 2 de mayo de 2013

Siege of Syracuse and Giant of Metropolis: Joseph Natanson matte shots

Today let’s take a view on two Italian Peplum film. Siege of Syracuse (1960) and The Giant of Metropolis (1961)  “Sword and sandal” films were very popular during the 60´s. Most of them filmed in Italy and Spain.  These two with matte paintings by Joseph Natanson, Poland born surrealistic painter that started his career as matte artist in London with The red Shoes (1947) He moved to Italy during the early 50´s and became the principal matte painter at Cinecitta.  There were only a few Italian artists whom from time to time executed matte paintings, so eventually Joseph Natanson could be recognised as the main matte artist working at the Italian film Industry.

Siege of Syracuse  was filmed at Cinecitta using his huge water tank with full scale replicas of  roman ships.

Syracuse walls with the legendary  burning mirrors that Archimedes is said to have used to defence the city. Huge baking with sky and far away city walls painted.

Joseph Natanson matte paintings to extend the sets. 

For The giant of Metropolis  Joseph Natanson was again in charge of matte paintings.

Italian constructor Sergio Scalia was responsible for the model miniatures.