21 June 2012

For the Love of Matte

Being the huge fan that I am of "old school" special effects (i.e. non-computer), I was really thrilled to see the excellent blog posting showing 50 of the greatest all-time matte paintings.

Matte paintings were used prior to computers to create a larger area of a shot than existed in real life.  For example, if you wanted to show a man walking on Mars, you could either build an entire section of the planet and film it, or you could build a small section, film that, and later add in a painting that would show the rest of the planet. Matte paintings were used to make castles bigger, new towns look older (by masking out modern things like TV antennae), to show people on space ships, and many more examples -- often prosaic and mundane, but important to the telling of the story.

Some of the paintings featured in the blog are amazing -- for example, the 1959 "Ben Hur" or the 1981 "Raiders of the Lost Ark" final scene (in that vast warehouse), or the ballroom in the 1938 "Sixty Glorious Years" (shown). [Hint: everything above the people is a painting.  Can you tell?]

Take a look for yourself. You can see the list here.  Make sure you "click to enlarge" on the paintings so you can see just how great they really are.

(A shout out to my spouse Matt for the heads up on this article.)

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