Sunday, 12 May 2019

The High and the Mighty 1954

This Cinemascope, John Wayne produced movie set the template for all the disaster films to come in the following decades. It seems pretty corny now but has a small number of miniature aircraft shots which are reasonably well done.

 There is a Douglas DC-4 and a converted to rescue duties B-17 model featured in the miniature shots. Along with the aircraft there is a single shot of a miniature ship which is difficult to see in all the fog.

There is a model ship buried in the gloom in this shot.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

The Land Unknown 1957

A very nice large scale model of a Sikorsky HO3S helicopter ( the naval variant of the H-5) features in this widescreen creature feature from the 50's.

The model looks to be bigger than 1/6th scale and could be 1/4 scale.

I have always been aware of this film from the iconic still photos that have been in all the monster movie publications over the years but have never seen the film until now when a Blu ray release has just been issued.

Just about every method of representing dinosaurs except stop motion animation is tackled in this movie. There is a man in a suit tyrannosaurus, a mechanical puppet elasmasaurus with moving flippers as well as some live iguanas fighting and roaming through the miniature jungle.

The tyrannosaurus suit is slightly kooky looking. It has a pretty good eye blink mechanism but the leg sections around the thighs fold a bit badly for it to be too convincing.

Doctored up still photo using the same actors and tyrannosaurus elements from the previous still with a different background.

The traveling matte process has been employed extensively in this movie to put live actors into the miniature sets and to put a smaller scale helicopter model over some stock footage backgrounds. For the most part the traveling matte work is of a high quality and is cleverly used. Occasionally some flickering matte edges can be seen and slight transparency in the mattes where the background can be seen ghosting through the helicopter foreground. There are some split screen composites where one side of the frame is a miniature with the other side the live action set with the actors. A foreground rock is used to hide the split point. Other examples have the actors against a small section of set such as a tree which is then matted into the miniature set. All the perspective matching is very well done with matching lighting only becoming a problem in a few shots.

I am pretty impressed with the visual effects in this monster movie and the other-worldly miniature sets, painted backgrounds, black and white cinematography and the widescreen format contribute to it's strange and endearing quality.

A series of stock footage backgrounds with what looks like a smaller scale model matted on top. The backgrounds ever so slightly are visible through the model.

For most of the shots the canopy of the model is fogged up and you dont see the interior much.

There are a couple of shots where the canopy is perfectly clear.

Shot made up of three separate sections. Background with tyrannosaurus is a miniature set. The tree on the left with the actors is a full size set piece matted in. The right side of the frame is another full size set added on top I guess to make a balanced composition.

Tyrannosaurus skin gets slashed by the rotating blades of the helicopter which he's not too happy about.

Miniature set with actor matted in on top.

Here the actor is matted into the miniature set. One of the few examples where the lighting doesn't quite match.

Tyrannosaurus would have needed a rotoscoped matte to drop the actor in behind.

Split screen of live action pool (bottom right) with miniature set and painted backdrop.

Split screen with live action left side of frame and miniature right side of frame with the foreground rock masking the join. The matching perspective is spot on only the different texture of the ripples in the water give it away.

Live actor matted on top of the helicopter model. Lines up perfectly except that his left foot crosses in front the roof cowling where it should be behind.

Here the matted in actor is tracked to follow the miniature action as he is lifted up in this very brief shot.

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