Star Wars: Behind The Scenes: Book III: Visual Effects

The series continues...and this is probably the coolest one so far.

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2. Matte Paintings

A key effect since the earliest days of movie-making, matte paintings allow live-action sequences to take place in scenes that "expand" beyond the set.

For The Empire Strikes Back, Ralph McQuarrie conceived and designed the shot that utilized his matte painting of Cloud City at twilight. His painting was done by applying paint directly to a large sheet of glass, enabling the filmed action to fill in the blacked-out areas.

Today, this method has been replaced by digital mattes, computer-generated environments which look absolutely real.

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