sábado, 16 de noviembre de 2013

Climbing with Bob Cuff



Rock cliffs, gorges and chasm are usual topics on matte painting. When a matte artist spend around 40 years of his life paintings for films, is not surprising that he have to paint the same subject repeatedly.
British matte painter Bob Cuff started at1952 in Shepperton Studios under Wally Veevers, he latter worked for Les Bowie and then formed the company Abacus productions with matte camera John Mackey.
He retired at 1989 after painting mattes for Eric the Viking.
During his long career, he had to execute some spectacular paintings of cliffs for several well-known films. 
The first time was for The Guns of Navarone (1962) Gregory Peck climbing at Shepperton Studios surrounded by matte paintings. Bob Cuff was the main matte artists at Shepperton with Ted Samuels

Some years lather, the same art director from Navarone, Geoffrey Drake, called Bob Cuff to take responsibility of the mattes for the film MacKenna’s Gold (1969)
This time Bob Cuff shared the painting work with Ray Caple and Joy Sheddon who after marring his son Paul, became Joy Cuff. Again Gregory Peck had to undergo a dangerous vertical climbing.



The last one was for The princess bride (1987) This time was Cary Elwes who made a hand climbing on the cliffs of insanity. Painted by Bob Cuff and Doug Ferris, with John Grant as matte camera. 



miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

Italian Sword and sandal matte shots.




During the late 50´s and the 60´s, Italian film industry produced many movies of this genre. Action, adventure and fantasy films, starring by legendary heroes like Hercules, Samson, Maciste, Perseus, Ursus, etc.  Some of those films were based historical events others on mythological tales and some other were just a mixture of genres and characters. Most of these films required large sets of ancient and mythological cities and scenarios.  Matte and glass shots were used very often.
The only credited Italian artists that executed some of those shots were cinematographer and director Mario Bava.  At middle 50´s he recruited  illustrator Amedeo Gigli to help him painting the miniatures.  Gigli painted the castles, temples and other elements  on cut out card board. Then Mario Bava  pasted it  on the glass and paint over to correctly match on the real setting.

Glass shots from Ercole e la regina di Lidia / Hercules unchained (1959)

On the last image with the ship, the trick is exposed when the water hits the rocks and emerges from behind the ship.

On many other occasions it were Joseph Natanson or Emilio Ruiz responsible of those tricks.
 Poland born artist Joseph Natanson started his career in England, painting mattes for The red shoes, and later at Shepperton studios. At middle 5’´s he moved to Italy were he developed an extensive career as matte painter.
 Maciste nella terra dei ciclopi /  Atlas against the cyclops. (1961)

 Spanish artist Emilio Ruiz worked at some Italian-Spanish films during the late 50´s and was required very often by Italian producers to do glass shots on their films.
Una spada per l´impero/  Sword of the Empire (1964)


There was not other artist specialized on those tricks on Italian film industry but surely there was some other Italian artist who executed matte shots from time to time.  Most probably by some art director or scenic painter.
Here there are some samples of uncredited matte shots that I have not been
able to identify the author.

Vulcano figlio di gione /  Vulcan son of Jupiter (1962)


Marte Dio della guerra / The Son of Hercules vs. Venus (1962)
The set of the wall city entrance, and the matte painting shot. 



Le gladiatrici  / Thor an the amazon women (1962)


Ercole l'invincibile /  Hercules the Invincible (1964)
The same  painting with two different lightening.

The same painting of village after attack.
 A foreground miniature trick.


La valle dell'eco tonante /Hercules of the desert  (1964)


domingo, 13 de octubre de 2013

Albert Maxwell Simpson. RKO mattes




Albert Maxwell Simpson

He was born at 1893 in California and started his career in 1915, painting backdrops for vaudeville theatres, before entering in motion picture business. He painted mattes for DW Griffith Birth of a Nation (1916), De Mille The Ten Commandments (1926) and In Old Arizona (1928). In 1937 Simpson joined Jack Cosgrove’s facility at Selznick company to work on The Prisoner of Zenda and  Gone With the Wind (1939) and also painted Manderley mansion for Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940).
After Mario Larrinaga left RKO to join Warner matte department, Simpson was often called on and painted mattes for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1942), Cat people (1942), The Enchanted Cottage (1945), ‘Bedlam’, Sister Kenny (both 1946) and  The Conqueror (1956)
When RKO closed in 1957 Linwood Dunn moved the effects people and equipment to his company Film Effects of Hollywood, so Simpson painted mattes for The Great Race (1965) and Hawaii (1966). He passed away in 1980.

The RKO matte department at 30´s was composed of Chesley Bonestell, Mario Larrinaga and Byron Crabbe.  Bonestell moved to Warner Bros and Crabbe to Selznick. Larrinaga stayed at RKO until 1942. Then Simpson was in charge of matte paintings, although most of his work was uncredited.

 Cat People (1942)

“Getting damned hard to please these “B producers” memoed veteran RKO technician artist Al Simpson after Lewton requested a change in a matte painting for Cat people

Murder my sweet (1944)
The Spanish Main (1945)
At Sword’s point (1952)
Blackbeard the pirate (1952)
Passion (1954)
The conqueror (1956)

From the Earth to the Moon (1958)

The white tower (1959)








martes, 17 de septiembre de 2013

Emilio Ruiz del Rio. Fortunata y Jacinta TVseries 1979.




Today’s article is dedicated to Spanish artist Emilio Ruiz del Rio. He started to work on films at 1942 as scenic painter and soon became assistant of art director and glass painter Enrique Salvá. Emilio specialized on in camera glass painting and cut out paintings, a variant of the glass shot technique on which he cut out the painted element on a thin aluminium sheet, avoiding the glass reflections and the fragility and difficulty of moving with huge glasses.  During the sixties and seventies started to add some three dimensional  elements to his paintings and at the eighties he mastered the foreground miniatures technique on films like Conan (1982) or Dune(1984) He  made wide use of both technique, some times mixed until his death at 2007.

Emilio Ruiz( al left) during the filming of one on his cut out paintings. 
For Spanish TV series Fortunata y Jacinta (1979), he was recruited to make some in camera tricks to enhance the sets. 
 On that occasion he used the technique of aluminium cut out paintings.




 This TV series recreates the 19th century Madrid with a lot of authenticity. That means the miniature paintings should be invisible, and they were.




The Emilio’s paintings matched perfectly the sets making it impossible to detect the trick.