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Absolutely Amazing Image


TomJH
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Anything amazing about this shot from The Postman Always Rings Twice?

 

i]Rings+Twice.jpg

 

No?

 

How about this - the magic of matte painting.

 

The only things real in this shot are the actors, the road and the grass beside it. Everything else is a painting. The trees, the telephone poles, the house, that lake in the distance - all painted, most likely by MGM studio painter Howard Fisher.

 

Now, in this seemingly most ordinary of shots, aren't you impressed? I know I was.

 

This photo comes from a website which has countless similar shots of matte paintings, if you're interested:

 

http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.ca/2013_09_01_archive.html

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Here is a list of The Greatest Matte Paintings of All Time..

http://www.shadowlocked.com/201205272603/lists/the-fifty-greatest-matte-paintings-of-all-time/page-2-of-2.html

.

Number one on the list.. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942) AMAZING!

 

The worst matte painting goes to "When Worlds Collide" (1958)

 

5905723321_774b097dab.jpg

 

Like to add, the opening scene in "Heidi" (1937) and "Dune" (1984), the shot of the Emperor's Golden Flagship after it landed sticks!

 

Edited by: hamradio on Feb 25, 2014 9:41 PM

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Thanks, ham.

 

I find this matte shot from Black Narcissus to be particularly jaw dropping:

 

 

Black_Narcissus_LARGE.jpg

 

Probably more has been written about the special effects shots in Black Narcissus than any other film. Practically the entire shoot took place on the back-lot of Pinewood Studios, with a significant amount of matte painting utilised to fill in the Himalayan setting. Master matte artist Walter Percy ?Pop? Day was the grandfather of the UK special effects world, with most of the future generations of British matte artists and special effects men having some form of lineage linking back to Day - none more so than Peter Ellenshaw, who painted with Day on this and many other productions. Other artists thought to have painted under Day on this show were prot?g?s Ivor Beddoes, Les Bowie and Judy Jordan ? all of whom would move on to careers in the British effects industry.

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Very cool stuff guys. One film that has always impressed me is the 1939 *The Hunchback of Notre Dame* . Everything about that film from the acting and all of the visual imagery makes it one of my favorite films of all time. I am slightly disappointed that I didn't see it referenced in these links.

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I saw a fantastic exhibit on the Art of Animation many years ago that featured backround paintings from classic cartoons. These original paintings were smaller than an 8.5x11 sheet of paper.

I do not understand how something this small can translate to a huge image on the screen in a movie theater. At least in cartoons, they are impressionistic, not too realistic.

 

The paintings used in live action films are astounding.

Generally, I don't even "see" them and just accept them along with the story. I often have to paint landscapes and murals in my work and find it incredibly difficult.

How these painters could create backrounds that are so perfect, they fool the eye even when projected as huge images on a screen is beyond my comprehension.

 

Does anyone know the size of the original paintings? Does anyone know if any special techniques were used to make them look more "real"? Does painting on glass offer a certain luminosity uniting the flat image with the exposed film?

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David O. Selznick's DUEL IN THE SUN

 

DS4.jpg

 

DS5.jpg

 

Dramatic clouds painted by Jack Cosgrove

 

DS7.jpg

 

Cell animated lightning

 

DS12.jpg

 

Entire upper right of picture, Indian Face Rock, painted by Cosgrove

 

The film's final shot:

 

DS12a.jpg

 

The early stage of a vast and elaborate pullback engineered by Clarence Slifer on his aerial image optical printer. The shot starts in very close on an aerial image of Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones faces then pulls out to reveal a totally fabricated mountain ledge, hills, valley and sunset - all manufactured in multi-plane in the Selznick special effects department.

 

DS12b.jpg

 

The middle section of the grand pullback where midground and background appropriately shift in perspective during the camera move.

 

DS12c.jpg

 

The end stage of the pullback with a subtle push IN to reveal the valley.

 

DS13.jpg

 

above - a paste up of the key frames from the superbly shot sequence that would have tied up Slifers' printer for quite some time I'm guessing.

 

 

All of these Duel in the Sun shots come from the remarkable Matte Shot website, for those who wish to see more:

 

http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.ca/2010/06/duel-in-sun-jack-cosgrove-clarence.html

 

This, folks, is the magic of the movies!

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When done well, matte painting can be amazing. There are movies that utilize matte paintings that were too obvious, but when it's not, as in the case of "Postman", you can't help but be awe struck. You also can't help admiring the massive talent many of those artists had.

 

Sepiatone

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Actually, I love matte paintings even when you just know that it has to be one.

 

For example, this matte shot of a castle ruin from Doug Fairbanks' Don Q, Son of Zorro, done in 1925:

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTS_LZtrd7dCvLFZPLoXZJ

 

Or, one of the most breath taking, Nottingham Castle from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938):

 

robinhood.jpg

 

However, NOBODY would ever guess that that initial posting I made with that image from Postman Always Rings Twice is 90% matte painted.

 

The artistry of a shot like that is completely unappreciated by film viewers who assume that MGM just found a location for the shot. However, once we realize that a shot like that is largely a painting, I think the admiration for most of us will probably be boundless.

 

Those artists, painters and technicians involved, toiling away in anonymity, are some of the true heroes in the magic of make believe in the movies - make believe that even can exist in a film that, on the surface, appears to be about every day reality. (Like that shot from Postman).

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Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

 

hunchback4.jpg

 

The massive pullback effects shot from the final scene in HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME with camera starting off from an extreme close up of Laughton's face and smoothly pulling back to reveal the entire painted cathedral. A viruoso composite scene put together by Linwood Dunn and Vernon Walker. According to process cinematographer Harold Wellman "like KING KONG, we made extensive use of background projection, stop motion, miniatures and process. One shot [the final pullback] for instance, pulls back from a 2x2 inch background image of Laughton, sitting by a gargoyle, to a long shot including the entire facade of the matte painting of the Cathedral of Notre Dame"

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How these painters could create backrounds that are so perfect, they fool the eye even when projected as huge images on a screen is beyond my comprehension.

 

So, I'll ask again...

>Does anyone know the size of the original paintings?

>Does anyone know if any special techniques were used to make them look more "real"?

>Does painting on glass offer a certain luminosity uniting the flat image with the exposed film?

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I can't answer your questions, TikiSoo, except to say that some of the backdrops are HUGE while other paintings are far smaller.

 

Here's a link to Matte Shot for two writeups, full of pictures, that will probably answer some of your questions, called Art of the Painted Backdrop and Matte Paintings in Progress:

 

http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.ca/2011_06_01_archive.html

 

20thCentFox-1937backing.jpg

 

 

RainsCame-artist.jpg

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