Document details

Painted Matte Shots
[for Treasure Island (1950)]
E. Hague, Peter Ellenshaw

DURING the last ten years there has been a progressive appreciation of the possibilities of Painted Matte Shots. Producers and Art Directors are now beginning to exploit these possibilities instead of using matte shots solely for providing ceilings or for topping up sets which are too large for the stages in which they are built.

If the technique employed in making matte shots is more fully understood by those people who plan a picture, then it is quite possible that they may see further ways in which the process can be utilised, and the intelligent use of matte shots can be a considerable factor in the lowering of production costs. My experience in painted matte shots is limited to those films that have been photographed in colour by Technicolor. The following list shows how many painted matte shots have been used on colour feature pictures made in England during the past ten years:

Henry V 8
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp 8
This Happy Breed 3
Men of Two Worlds 6
Matter of Life and Death 9
Black Narcissus 14
The Red Shoes 14
An Ideal Husband 11
Scott the Antarctic 5
Bonnie Prince Charlie 38
Gone to Earth 10
Treasure Island 20
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman 8
The Black Rose 27
Captain Horatio Hornblower, R.N. 19
The Tales of Hoffmann 5
Robin Hood 35

The following is my definition of the term: A painted matte shot is produced when a part of the frame of the original photograph is matted out or obscured, and then, at a later date, a second exposure to a painting is made, which tills in that area that has not yet received an exposure.

Method of Making


Double Exposing of Dupe Negative


Practical Example

As an example of making dupe matte shots, Fig. 1 shows a model matte shot set-up ; this is how a scene for "Treasure Island" was produced. The Art Director was Tom Morahan and the Matte Artist Peter Ellenshaw.

Fig. '2 shows a print of the original photography and Fig. 3 a print of the completed matte shot as it was used in the film.

This shot was designed as a matte shot, and the set-up was chosen so that the ship and the water were in the desired part of the frame as indicated in Mr. Morahan's drawing.

After a print from the original photography had been approved for action, 10 ins. by 8 ins. enlargement was made on to bromide paper in order to allow the Art Director and the Matte Artist to decide the position of the matte line, and whether it would be a soft-edge matte or a hard-edge matte. If the join is to run along a certain architectural feature in the finished picture, then it is usual to use a hard-edge matte ; but if the join has to pass across a uniform surface, such as the sky or a smooth, flat wall, then a soft-edge matte is used to minimise the difficulty of matching tone and colour.





Source type Magazine
Volume 19.6
Language en
Document type Feature
Media type text
Page count 7
Pages pp. 166-172


Id 3444
Availability Free
Inserted 2017-10-03