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Raiders of the Lost Ark – Matte Painting

On 06, May 2014 | One Comment | In Production, Raiders of the Lost Ark | By vashi

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Michael Pangrazio created some of the most famous matte paintings in Cinema history. His work in Star Wars (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Temple of Doom (1984) and 65 other films is some of the most memorable ever. By the 1990’s almost all matte paintings were produced using computer software and the analog method slowly and sadly faded away.

The warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark took 3 months to paint onto a sheet of glass. The glass was positioned right in front of the camera and it extended the set deep into the background. This example is often called the most effective and beautiful matte painting ever.


the matte painting with a hole in the middle for the live action

The live action was shot through the hole in the matte painting


Pangrazio worked for Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm where he studied under legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie. In 1988, Pangrazio went on to form his own company Matte World Digital and transitioned from film to digital artistry. They went on to win 6 Oscars for Visual Effects before shutting down in 2012.

Learn more about Pangrazio in this short interview.


Pangrazio painting for Return of the Jedi


The Cobra Shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cutting in Camera from Raiders of the Lost Ark


Until next time…


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  1. Thanks for this.

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