50 Greatest Matte Paintings of All Time
A May 27th, 2012 post to ShadowLocked honors the greatest painted matte composites of all time (as selected by author Peter Cook). The technique, of painting on glass to create an environment that would be too expensive for filmmakers to create in the real world, dates back to the silent era (1907 Norman Dawn's paintings of California Missions for the movie Missions of California) and includes noteworthy examples like the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz, Xanadu in Citizen Kane, and numerous vistas and locations in the Star Wars franchise. As technology has advanced, more mattes are being created digitally, but there's still something to be said for the magic of brushstrokes on glass combined with live action filmmaking to form a seamless illusion.
Here is a short video (compiled by Jonas Ulrich) with clips of noteworthy mattes from classic films:
And here's a clip from the BBC (using Star Wars examples) about how mattes are created and used:
Happy May the Fourth.