viernes, 21 de junio de 2013

Philippine Cinema. Ibong Adarna (1941)

This week I will go even further away than the last post. Not in time but in space.  In the same way that matte paintings were in regular usage during the 40´s and 50´s at USA and British Cinema, it  also  happened in countries like Russia, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina , Philippines, and many others.  

I will try to visit all those distant and unexplored territories of cinema. Today it’s time to show some matte samples form one of the great unknown,   the Philippine Cinema.
The frame captures came from Youtube. Sadly the quality of the image is quite low.

If there is a name on Philipino Films that bring us over matte shots, that’s Richard Abelardo. Born in 1902, he learned scenic painting from his father, a backdrop painter for theatre. He went to California at early 20´s and started to work at Universal as scenic painting. He moved to MGM and Warner brothers. Working on films like Footlight parade (1933) or Modern times (1936)
At 1936 he went back to Philippines and introduced the glass shot and matte painting techniques to Philippines Film Industry. At the late 40`s he started to direct films, but during his director career he continued to do special effects.
I´m not sure if, during his Californian years, he executed glass or matte paintings, but he certainly learned these techniques at that time. 

One of his early matte painting films was Ibong Adarna (1941) a fantasy adventure film about a magical bird, based on an epic narrative poem written in the 18th century. 

The film reveals several matte painting among other special effects. Richard Abelardo was credited as art director and process shots. 

His brother Bayani Abelardo was Photographic effects cameraman. Richard counted with the help of two assistants, Luzon Gamboa, and a young Ben Resella.

It is also required to make a special mention to Ben Resella. Another Philipino artist that make a huge contribution not only at his country cinema, but also in USA. Resella, nephew of Richard Abelardo,  was an extraordinary painter that worked for many years as art director and matte painter at Philippines until 1966 when he moved to California were he was immediately  recruited at the company J.C. Backing, specialised on scenic backdrops for film and TV.

Resella worked as scenic paint supervisor for more than 20 years painting backdrops for films like Hello Dolly (1967) Earthquake (1972) Towering inferno (1974) Star Treck (1979), Space balls (1987) and many others.
Ben Resella painting a huge backing for Earthquake.

lunes, 10 de junio de 2013

The Sheik (1921)

For today’s matte painting display I will go back to silent era. It was at that time when this technique was born. Pioneer Norman Dawn was the first one to paint of a sheet of glass for a motion picture titled Missions of California (1907) Some years later he developed the matte shot technique that he patented on 1918.
During the 20´s there were a bunch of artists doing glass and matte paintings in Hollywood studios.  Jesse Lasky was one of the pioneer movie mogul and co-founder of Paramount Pictures with Adolph Zukor. 
                          Jesse L. Lasky production for Paramount Pictures THE SHEIK (1921)

For the Rudolph Valentino’s Arabian adventure film   The sheik (1921) they needed to recreate some Middle east locations and that was achieved with the help of matte paintings.
Some of the glass and matte artists of that time were scenic and title painters. It was a common routine to get small paintings decorating some of the titles at crucial moments of the film.  

Hans Ledeboer was scenic artist at Lasky Studios, and he became also matte painter sometime during those years. Most probably he was one of the responsible for these paintings.

 With no restrictions for real sets or locations, it occurred sometimes that the title paintings were more attractive that the constrained glass art.  

 Some years later, Ledeboer took under his tutelage a young artist,  Jam Domela who was matte painter at Paramount films during  almost four decades working on hundred of films. I’m not sure when Domela started painting mattes, but I doubt he worked on The Sheik.  

Hans Ledeboer working on a scenic painting.