French VFX: Mattes and miniatures

  Glass painting and miniature effects were in used at French cinema since the early days. We shouldn’t forget that George Melies was without a doubt one of the master pioneers on the use tricks and effects of all genres.   Most of his paintings were scenic backdrops and I really don’t know for sure if Melies used foreground miniature paintings. Anyway, there is a name on French films when talking about glass and matte painting, and that’s Walter Percy Day. The British artist started painting glass shots for Ideal Films in Borehamwood at 1919, but British film industry was on a difficult situation and French industry was in an ascendant way, so Percy Day moved to Paris at 1922 and became an instant success as a glass painter.

 After the Russian revolution at 1917, many non-communist Russians leave the country in search of a more peaceful place to live.  French film industry benefited from many Russian artists that entered into the movie business, as art directors like Serge Piménoff   Eugene Lourie, Andrew Andrejev, Pierre Schildneckt, or Leon Barsacq, also  Nicolas Wilcke and Paul Minine whom specialized on foreground miniatures.

When Percy Day leave France to return to England,   some art directors like Pierre Schildneckt and French Jean Perrier, begun to execute their own glass paintings for their films.  Schildneckt moved to Spain when WWII hit France and Nicolas Wilcke became the main specialist on foreground miniatures and paintings. French artist Chares Assola, became also a practitioner of foreground paintings, and miniatures tricks.

Les croix de bois (1932)

 Les misérables (1934)

Les belles de nuit (1952)

Les 3 Mousquetaires (1953)