British VFX Matte painting Timeline.

The information above has been compile from different sources, magazines and books, and with the help of VFX professionals like Martin Body, John Grant, Bob Cuff ,Doug Ferris, Dennis Lowe, Kent Houston,  and others  to whom I’m sincerely thankful, like matte expert Peter Cook.

1912. At the book  “The Saga of Special Effects” by Ron Fry and Pamela Fourzon, they  mention Britain’s Edgar Rogers, who worked with England’s trick film pioneer G.A. Smith, as an early developer of glass shots and other special effects.  They reference the film Santa Claus (1912) as a showcase for his effects.           .

1916. Walter Hall, the English art director of D. W. Griffith’s “Intolerance”, develops his own method of creating the glass shot. He paints the additions to the scene on composition board, cuts them out with a beveled edge,and mounts them in front of the camera. He patented this variation of the glass shot technique, known as “The Hall Process” in 1921.

1922. Walter Percy (“Pop”) Day introduces the “The Hall Process or galss shot”  to the French film industry on  “Les Opprimés.”     .

1927.  For Alfred Hitchcock film “The ring” Walter Percy Day is called from France, to execute a trick shot using the “schuftan process”, to integrate the ring set, into a painting of the Albert Hall.

1927. Percy Day develops his version of the latent image technique and applies it in “Le joueur d’échecs” The Chess player.

Chess 27

1932. Returning to England, Percy Day to demonstrate the value of glass shots, executed some paintings for free at some British Studios. Studios producers encourage their own Studios painter to made matte paintings. Although Percy Day and his assistant Peter Ellenshaw are the only two credited matte painters at that time, there were some others unknown. Percy Day and his assistant and stepson Peter Ellenshaw paint mattes for producer Alexander Korda at: The Private Life of Henry VIII.

1935. Director Alfred Hitchcock has illustrator Fortunino  Matania create a matte painting for the trap sequence at the Royal Albert Hall “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

1936. Walter Percy Day headed the Department of Matte Painting at Denham Studios for Alexander Korda films. Percy Day and Peter Ellenshaw paint mattes for “Things to Come”.


1936. For Alfred Hitchcock film “Sabotage”, the Strand Street of London was recreated into a Studio, with the help of a glass painting.


1937. For “Young and innocent” made at Gainsborough Studios, they used miniatures and matte painting. Art director Albert Jullion was probably the matte painter. Albert Whitlock worked on scenic and miniatures artist.

1940. Percy Day and assistant Peter Ellenshaw paint an oriental fantasy world for “The Thief of Bagdad” The film wins the Academy Award for Visual Effects.

El ladron de Bagdad.1

1945. Percy Day paints glass shots for “Henry V”.

HenryV PercyDayHenry V 04

1946. After many years as a scenic artist and background painting, Albert Jullion get his first credit as a matte painter for “The magic Bow”


1946. Another scenic artist, Les Bowie began as a matte painter at Pinewood Studios, he paints mattes for David Lean´s  “Great Expectations”.

1946. A young Cliff Culley entered Pinewood Studios as apprentice matte painter.

1946. Walter Percy  Day was appointed Director of Special Effects of London Films at Shepperton Studios. After returning from five years in the RAF, Peter Ellenshaw paints for  “A Matter of Life and Death”. Percy Day heads the visual effects for the film


1947. Percy Day and Ellenshaw paint Himalayan views and the monastery for “Black Narcissus”.


1948.  Les Bowie, Joseph Natanson, and Ivor Beddoes paint mattes for  “The Red Shoes”.

1948. Les Bowie paint mattes for “Oliver Twist” at Pinewood Studios.

Oliver Twist matte2

1948. Peter Ellenshaw was called to Tom Howard at British MGM Studios to make matte paintings for “Idol of Paris”.

1948. After Ellenshaw left, Percy Day started to work with other assistants like Judy Jordan who help him painting the mattes for  “Bonnie Prince Charlie”.


Another Day´s assistant was Joan Suttie who painted with the master on films like “Uncle Silas” or “Fame is the Spur” (1947)

1948.  Geoffrey Dickinson was a matte artist at Ealing Studios from 1947 to 1953: working on films like “Scott of the Antarctic “(48) (see image) “Whisky Galore”(49), “The cruel sea”(53) or “The man on the white suit”(51)

Scott of the Antarctic 00


1949. Albert Whitlock paints his first original negative matte painting for “The Bad Lord Byron”.

1950  Peter Ellenshaw works on his first Disney  film in England, painting mattes for “Treasure Island.”

1950. Albert Whitlock is credited with Bill Warrington as Special effects for his matte paintings at “Trio” made for at Pinewood.

1951  Les Bowie left Pinewood matte department to create his own company in association with Vic Margutti,  Bowie-Margutti films.

.1952.  Tom Howard head of Special effects department of British  MGM ask Peter Ellenshaw to paint mattes for “Quo Vadis? ”

HD quo vadis matte2

1952. Roy Field  still in his teens, entered at Bowie Films, and learned with Margutti as FX Cameramen

1952. Percy Day retired from Shepperton Studios Wally Veevers became head of Matte Department. Shepperton Studios crew:George Samuels principal painter, Albert Jullion ,  Bob Cuff , David Hume, Joseph Natanson, Judy Jordan, Ivor Beddoes: Freelance, Alan Maley.

1952  Peter Ellenshaw  work for Disney, with  Albert Whitlock as assistant, for “Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue” and “The  Sword and the Rose”(image) They  had some matte apprentices like Cliff Culley and probably also Peter Melrose who helped Whitlock  doing foreground glasses for some films by the Arthur Rank Organization.

1952. At British MGM Tom Howard supervised VFX work for films like”The rounded table Knights” or “Ivanhoe”(image) Matte paintings were uncredited.

Ivanhoe matte 08

1953 . Joseph Natanson worked frequently at Rome for films like “Puccini” or “Madame Butterfly” Finally he moved to Italy.

Puccini- matte01

1954  Peter Ellenshaw went to America to work at Disney matte department for “20. 000 Leagues Under the Sea”Albert Whitlock moved also to the USA to work with him.

1954. Ivor Beddoes painted mattes for “Atila” filmed in Italy.


1954. Judy Jordan left Shepperton matte department to work at MGM British Studio under Tom Howard.

1956. Joseph Natanson already settled at Rome, painted mattes for Louis Lichtenfield at ” Helen of Troy” filmed at Cinecitta.

1956. Vic Margutti and Roy Field left Bowie films to go to Pinewood.

1956. For the film “Satellite in the Sky,” Wally Veevers had scenic artist Julius Kay working as a matte artist with Bob Cuff and George Samuels.

1957. Matte artist Bob Bell who had previously worked at Pinewood Studios left to AP films as art director.

1957. Derek Meddings worked with Les Bowie as matte assist at Anglo-Scottish Pictures Ltd. They painted mattes for Hammer films like “Dracula” (image) and  “The Curse of Frankenstein” Another matte apprentice with Bowie who started at those years was Ray Caple.

1957 . David Hume left Shepperton matte department to became a scenic artist at Teddington Studios.

1958. Tom Howard at British MGM wins an academy for the FX  at “Tom Thumb” with matte paintings probably by Judy Jordan.

1959. Bill Warrington left Pinewood to work freelance. Cliff Culley remains as head of matte painting and optical effects for films like “Northwest frontier”

1960 . Derek Meddings left Bowie and went to Gerry Anderson TV series as Director of Special Effects.

1961 Shepperton Studios matte department was responsible for the mattes from some Ray Harryhausen films like “Jason and  the Argonauts”.

Jason matte01

Wally Veevers was in charge of the photographic dept. Ted Samuels in charge of practicals on the floor. Peter Harman was his cameraman with Bryan Loftus, Geoff Stevenson, and  John Grant who comes from Kodak. John Mackie with Bob Cuff was about to leave to join Les Bowie. The main matte artist was Doug Ferris with Gerald Larn, Brian Evans and Peter Melrose assisting. Films from this period at Shepperton included “Vampire Killers”, “Best House in Town”, “Casino Royal”,  and many more. Not all had matte paintings as they also did transitions, Split Screens, and titles.

Shepperton matte department was housed in M stage which had a large matte painting studio employing several matte painters, a model shop, a small shooting stage, and optical rooms. The walls displayed many matte paintings and models from earlier films, sadly most lost today.

1962. Cliff Culley head of matte department at Pinewood, with Roy, Field supervising optical effects. Begun his James Bond series, painting mattes for  “Dr. No” and “From Russia with love”

007 Doctor No- 62 Culley

At the middle sixties, Charles Stoneham joins Pinewood matte department, trained by Cliff Culley.

1963. Bob Cuff began working with Les Bowie. Ray Caple was already working as Les Bowie’s matte artist and had been trained by him from an early age. They share matte work for films like “The Masque of the red death”

1963. “Cleopatra” earned the Academy Award for Special effects with Emile Kosa as matte painter supervisor and Joseph Natanson matte assistant, in Cinecitta, Italy.

1964. After his well-regarded work in “Doctor Strangelove”, Alan Maley joins Disney Studio in America.

1964. Ivor Beddoes working as a freelance, painted mattes for Bill Warrington at “The long ships”.

long ships matte0

1964. Peter Melrose and Bob Cuff paint mattes for Hammer film “Dracula has risen from the Grave”

1967 John Mackey, Les Bowie and Bob Cuff formed  Abacus Productions to make T.V. commercials.  (Les  Bowie didn´t want to be involved with commercials and acted as a sleeping partner, renting his premises and equipment to the  offshoot company).

- Wally Veevers leaves Shepperton to work on “2001″ along with Brian Loftus

- Doug Ferris, Gerald Larn, Peter Harman and John Grant remain at Shepperton working on films like  “Dance of the Vampires” (image)

1968- Abacus were invited by Carl Foreman and his designer Geoffrey Drake to carry out painted mattes and other works for  “McKenna’s Gold”. The painting was shared between Ray Caple, Bob Cuff, Lynette Lee,  and Joy Seddon, who joined Abacus as a matte artist, having previously been working with Stanley Kubrick on 2001. They also did various model shots and some pickups,  employing a fair number of technicians, including Brian Loftus, Brian Johnson, and others. Bob´s son Paul Cuff worked as Matte Process cameraman and married Joy Seddon, now Joy Cuff.

1968. At Pinewood studios, Cliff Culley and Roy Field were responsible for  the matte paintings on “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”

Chitty-Pinewood matte department

1968 . Douglas Adamson was employed as a matte painter at MGM British Studios. He painted mattes for “Where eagles dare”

1969.   “Anne of the Thousand Days”.Shepperton matte department with Doug Ferris, Gerald Larn and Bryan Evans painting and John Grant and Peter Harman as matte photography. Gerald Larn painted the night view of the Tower of London matte.

Gerald-Larn copia

anne copia

1969 . Ray Harryhausen film “Valley of Gwangi” went to Shepperton matte department, with Doug Ferris and Gerald Larn painting and John Grant and Peter Harman as matte photography. Larn painted some rock formations for the Lost Valley.

1969 . Ray Caple was responsible for mattes at  “The Battle of Britain”.   Martin Body assisted Caple as a matte camera.

Battle Of Britain (1969) Caple matte

1971. Roy Field went freelance  as Vic Margutti had retired

1971. Gerald Larn at Shepperton matte department paint mattes for Roman Polanski “Macbeth”

1973- After 11 years at Shepperton matte department, Gerald Larn left his film work when the Studios closed.

1974 – Wally Veevers sets up at Bray Studios.  Doug Ferris & Peter Harman join him.

1975. Cliff Culley left  Pinewood, and create his own company Westbury Design and Optical. He provides mattes for”The pink panther strikes again”. He was assisted by Steve Archer who later became a stopmotion animator for films like “Neverending story” (84) or “Krull” (83)

1975. For the film ” The man who would be king”  Wally Weevers and Shepperton matte department executed many matte paintings. Most of them by Doug Ferris with John Grant as a matte camera. Scenic artist Peter Wood was commissioned to paint this cave matte shot for the film. Albert Whitlock was responsible for the matte shot of the Holy city.

.1976. Shepperton reopens and Wally Veevers hires new premises just across from M stage. Doug Ferris and Peter Harman join him. They work at “The Prince and the pauper”


1978. Matte painter and composite supervisor Les Bowie, and matte painters Doug Ferris, Ray Caple, assisted by Liz Lettman, create the matte paintings for “Superman” On the matte camera unit were Peter Harmand, Peter Hammond, and Keith Holland. Dennis Bartlett was traveling matte supervisor.   Bowie is awarded with a posthumous Oscar the following year. He shared the award with Roy Field, Derek Medings, Colin Chilvers, Dennys Coop, and Zoran Perisic.


1978.  Cliff Culley hired Leigh Took as matte painter assistant for “Warlord of Atlantis” and other films.

After Superman Wally Veevers Company “Vee Films” was busy on films like Superman II, Moonraker, Raise the Titanic, Saturn3, The Keep. With matte artist Doug Ferris and at the camera unit:  Peter Harman, John Grant, Keith Holland, Stewart Galloway, and  Roy Carnell.

1979. Ivor Beddoes joined  Doug Ferris and cameramen Peter Hammond and Peter Harman to create the mattes of “Superman II”, made for Roy Field´s “Optical Film Effects” Company.

1979. Ray  Caple paint mattes for Ridley Scot´s “Alien”.

1979. For the film “Raise the Titanic”  scenic artist Bob Spencer executed some cut out paintings for Wally Veevers.

1981. Alan Maley retired from movies after supervising the matte department at I.L.M from “Dragonslayer” (1980) and “Raiders of the lost ark” (1981)

1981. John Grant joins Wally Veevers, Doug Ferris and Peter Harman, for “The Keep” with Keith Hollland, Roy Carnell and Stuart Galloway as camera assistants.

1982. Doug Ferris  Peter Harman, John Grant, and Martin Body join Roy Field and Peter Watson at Optical Films effects in Pinewood, to work on projects in  the early to mid-eighties: ‘Superman III’,  ‘Santa  Claus’, ‘Labyrinth’ or “The Last Days of Patton”.

Doug Ferris with one of his paintings for “Santa Claus”

Doug with Santa Claus intro

1983. Derek Meddings Supervising visual effects for “Supergirl” painted a glass shot.

1983.  The matte paintings from  “Neverending Story”  filmed at Bavaria Studios, Munich,  were done by  ILM (USA, California)   Keith Holland worked as optical cameraman & motion control cameraman on under Brian Johnson & Dennis Lowe. veteran Dennis Bartlet was a consultant at the motion control unit.


1984. Cliff Culley provides mattes and optical effects for TV miniseries  “The Last Days of Pompeii” with his company “Westbury design and opticals” with Leigh Took as a matte artist. (image)


1984. Albert Whitlock retired as head of Matte department at Universal after painting mattes for “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan”.He remains working as a matte consultant for “Illusion arts”

1984. For  David Lean´s “A Passage to India” Doug Chian paint mattes for Peerless Camera Company with Kent Houston supervising optical effects. The upper left part of the rock formations was painted.

1985. “Return to OZ”  filmed at Elstree Studios with veteran Charles Stoneham as a matte artist. Additional matte paintings were done at the USA. by Disney EFX. The matte camera was Peter Hammond with Stanley Sayer as matte photography consultant. Keith Holland worked with Zoran Perisic as matte cameraman, combining claymation done by Will Vinton & live action.

1985. Charles Stoneham became disillusioned with the increasing pressures of the industry and retired after his work at “Return to Oz” and “A Christmas Carrol” (image)


1985. Ray Caple was responsible for the matte paintings at “Spies like us”

1986. Joseph Natanson retired after his last painting work at “The name of the rose”. Since the early 60´s he lived and worked at Rome painting mattes for more than 80 films.

1988. After some years working under Harrison Ellenshaw, British painter JP Trevor  painted mattes for Derek Meedings at “Stealing Heaven”

1988. Bob and Joy Cuff with Doug Ferris and Leigh Took paint mattes for “Baron Munchausen”. John Grant and Martin Body worked as matte camera at Peerless camera.

Baron Munch-before&after1

1988 . Cliff Culley paint mattes for “Hellraiser II” with his son Neil Culley as matte photography.

1989. After painting mattes for “Eric the Viking” with Doug Ferris, Bob and Joy Cuff retired from matte painting.

1989. For the film “Batman”  Ray Caple, Leigh Took and JP Trevor paints mattes for Derek Meedings.

1990. Peter Ellenshaw made his last contribution to film  industry assisting his son Harrison painting the mattes for “Dick Tracy”

1990. Steve Beggs, after some years working on miniatures, paints mattes for “Hardware” at Cliff Culley’s company “Westbury design and opticals”

1990.  John Grant joined Magic Camera Company with Doug Ferris to work on various projects.

1990. After his work on “Treasure Island ”  Ray Caple died from an illness.

Treasure Island-Ray caple2

1991. Albert Whitlock painted his last glass shot for “The neverending story II”.

1993. Doug Ferris paint mattes for Derek Meddings Magic camera Company for films like “Princess Caraboo”.

princess caraboo Princess Caraboo-Doug Ferris painting1

1995. After decades working as a scenic artist,  Brian Bishop also contributed painting mattes and foreground glasses. He worked very often with Derek Meddings, for “Goldeneye” he executed a glass painting. Meddings on the picture with Brian´s painting.

1995 . Cliff Culley´s company “Westbury design” provided mattes and opticals for the film “Restoration”.

1997. Doug Ferris again for Magic camera Company painted the city of Calcuta for “City of Joy”.


1997. Cliff Culley painted mattes for “Orphans” His son Neil Culley was a matte camera. Cliff Culley retired and his son Neil went into digital FX.

1997 . Doug Ferris painting, and John Grant camera,  for “Seven Years in Tibet”.Doug Ferris retired, John Grant continued to work and retrained on computers until the company relocated to central London and retired in 2002.


2001.  Steve Mitchell, a scenic artist who was trained under Brian Bishop, executes a traditional painting on hardboard, latter photograph, and composite digitally for films and TV series like “Band of brothers”.Only the hide and soldiers are real the rest is oil painting on hardboard by Mitchell.


2004. Steve Mitchell executed a glass painting for the film “The life and death of Peter Sellers”.


2017. Leigh Took  was  called to make an old school glass painting on location  for the film “Their Finest”

 their finest