The Invisible Art
There's a reason why the best book on matte painting in the movies and television industry was titled The Invisible Art; the best matte painting is the one that the audience never notices. The latest, heavily illustrated post at the Matte Shot blog, a blog that's chockablock full of beautiful matte paintings from Hollywood's history is titled "Was That A Matte Shot?", including a subtle matte shot from Casablanca that I never would have noticed. But then, Hollywood has a long history -- dating back to virtually the beginning of the movie industry -- of using matte paintings to stretch the backlot into infinity, to add multiple stories to buildings that never existed beyond the ground floor, and to paint ceilings where a rafter full of klieg lights and a microphone loomed over the soundstage.
It's a blog post -- and blog -- full of great stuff; just keep scrolling.
And for a quick primer on matte paintings in general (including some of the less subtle examples of the craft), check out this 1994 Discovery Channel Movie Magic segment:
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Related: Oh and speaking of Hollywood special effects extravaganzas, for reasons utterly unknown (OK, other than wanting to milk an extra couple of bucks out of the franchise), a comic book publisher is publishing an eight-issue miniseries based on George Lucas's rough draft of "The Star Wars," before his screenwriter friends Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, who had previously salvaged the script of American Graffiti, rewrote this movie as well.
Even after multiple rewrites, nobody would confuse the dialogue in Star Wars with David Lean. But for those masochists who choose to read them, these comic books should breathe new life into the infamous quip that Harrison Ford barked to Lucas after being forced to read page after page of technobabble on the set of the original Star Wars: "You can type this sh*t, George, but you sure can't say it."