Bob Cuff

Biography: Provided by Bob Cuff

Shepperton Studios:
1952 After four years at the Camberwell School of Art I, (along with David Hume), was hired as trainee Matte painter by Vincent Korda. (The Matte Department was then called the Special Effects Department). Wally Veevers was Head of Department and his name appeared on most credits (usual practice at the time). George Samuels was principal painter and constructor. Albert Julion was also a brilliant painter, much loved by Vincent Korda. David Hume left Shepperton after a couple of years to become a scenic painter at ABC Studios, Teddington.

Also working as painters were:
Joseph Natanson: went to Rome
Judy Jordan: left about 1954
Ivor Beddoes: Freelance
Alan Maley: went to Hollywood
Others whose names I have forgotten.

The team worked very closely together; paintings were frequently passed from one artist to the other and there were a variety of other effects that we all worked on.

1963 I left Shepperton in 1963 to work for Les Bowie on Charlie Schneer’s ‘First Men in the Moon’ (animated modelwork by Harryhausen). Ray Caple was already working as Les Bowie’s Matte Artist and had been trained by him from an early age. He was a gifted painter and modeller and did his own camera work. Many mattes from Bowie’s were painted and put together by Ray. Unfortunately, Ray died from illness in about 1986(?). I shared all the matte work at Bowie’s with Ray. Les Bowie, a brilliant painter, had virtually stopped painting by the time I went to work for him.

John Mackey left Shepperton after about a year (1964) to join us and help with camera and optical work; John and I worked together for many years.

John Mackey and myself were hired by Stanley Kubrick to make matte shots of the excavated pit on the moon and to make various travelling shots of moonscapes (paintings were not allowed by Kubrick – all the shots were compressed models).

John Mackey, Les Bowie and myself formed a company (Abacus Productions) to make T.V. commercials. (Les Bowie did not want to be involved with commercials and acted as sleeping partner, renting his premises and equipment to the offshoot company).

Whilst at Abacus:

1968 We were invited by Carl Foreman and his designer Geoffrey Drake to carry out painted mattes and other work for McKenna’s Gold. John Mackey went with the main unit to supervise the shooting of the first exposures in America. He also organised the hiring of two 65mm cameras to combine the mattes. Initially two matte shooting positions were set up in the premises of Technicolor U.K. and later transformed to Merton Park Studios in South West London. All negative used was carefully checked to try to avoid ‘jiggle’. The painting was shared between Ray Caple, Lynette Lee, myself and Joy Seddon, who joined us as a matte artist, having previously been working with Stanley Kubric on 2001. We also did various model shots and some pickups, employing a fair number of technicians, including Brian Loftus, John Johnson and others, whose names I can’t remember. My son Paul Cuff worked as Matte Process cameraman and married Joy Seddon, now Joy Cuff.

Subsequently I spent most of my time working on commercials and some T.V. series.

Freelance work after retiring from Abacus:

1987 – Painted some mattes on Princess Bride with cameraman John Grant.
1988 – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen with Joy Cuff and John Grant.
1989 – Erik the Viking – with Joy Cuff, John Grant and Doug Ferris

Bob Cuff  retired after working at Erik the Viking(1989).



At Shepperton Studios under Wally Veevers.
1953 -  Hobson’s Choice (matte painting)
1954 -  Devil Girl from Mars (matte painting)
1955 -  Richard III (matte painting)
1956 -  Three Men in a Boat (matte painting)
1956  – A Killer in Korea (matte painting)
1957  – The Smallest Show on Earth (matte painting)
1957  – The Admiral Crichton (matte painting)
1957  – A King in New York (matte painting)
1958 – Silent Enemy (matte painting)
1958 – I was Monty’s Double (matte painting)
1958 – Carlton Brown of the F.O. (matte painting)
1958 – Room at the Top (matte painting)
1959 – I’m Alright Jack (matte painting)
1959 – Expresso Bongo (matte painting)
1960 – Too Hot to Handle (Animated Superimposition)
1961 – The Guns of Navarone (matte painting)

1961 – Mysterious Island (matte painting)
1962 – The War Lover (matte painting)
1962 – The Longest Day (matte painting)
1962 – The Day of the Triffids (matte painting)
1962 – Summer Holiday(matte painting)
1963 – Jason and the Argonauts (matte painting)
1963 – The Victors (matte painting)
1963 – Heavens Above (matte painting)
1963 – Dr Strangelove (matte painting)

Films  at Les Bowie’s Company:
1964  – First Men in the Moon (matte painting)
1964  – Masque of Red Death (matte painting)
1965  – She (matte painting)
1965  – City under the Sea (matte painting)
1966  – One Million Years B.C. (matte painting)
1967  – Dracula has Risen from the Grave (matte painting)

1968- 2001 Space odissey (miniature effects)
1969 – McKenna’s Gold (matte painting)
1972 -  Young Winston (matte painting)
1979 -  Monty Python’s Life of Brian (matte painting)
1987 – Princess Bride (matte painting)
1988 – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (matte painting)
1989 – Erik the Viking (matte painting)

The full galley is not available yet, but you can visit the old site: