First Men in the Moon

Ray Harryhausen matte/split screen book & script



An original matte/split screen book & script used on the production of the 1964 feature film adaptation of the H.G Wells novel First Men in the Moon first published in 1901. The film came from the pen of prolific writer Nigel Kneale and starred Lionel Jeffries, Edward Judd and Martha Hyer.

Providing special effects was the legendary Ray Harryhausen in the form of stop-motion model animation - Dynamation. It is the only Harryhausen film shot in the anamorphic widescreen process CinemaScope. Harryhausen is widely regarded to be one of the greatest stop motion artists in history and undoubtedly one of the most influential individuals ever to work in special effects, his influence in the industry is unrivelled and spans generation upon generation of film makers, both past and present. This book of mattes and split screen reductions offers a fascinating insight into the techniques used by one of cinemas most respected effects artists.

Dynamation is a technique which allows live action to be 'split' and enables a model to be inserted into scene and appear to interact with the actors. This process involved splitting the footage by means of projecting a live action image onto a screen behind a model with a glass sheet placed between these and the camera. On that sheet of glass a matte line was made by looking through the camera and painting on the glass in order to black out the foreground action, when all in place the camera would capture one frame at a time as the live action is wound on at the same rate whilst the model can be moved for each exposure as required. When the sequence has been filmed the projector and camera are rewound, the model cleared away and a new sheet of glass put in place, a reverse of the first one, with the background now blacked out and the foreground clear, the film is re shot again now exposing the foreground image which was previously blacked out to show a model now seemingly integrated with the live action footage. This breakthrough in special effects meant it was less time consuming and far less expensive than traditional techniques using model sets.

This A4 matte folder is labelled to the front "FIRST MEN IN THE MOON" "Travelling Matte and Split Screen" "Property of Ray Harryhausen" and consists of around 50 matte and split screen special effects shots, mostly high quality production photographs with some hand drawn and painted boards each one annoted in the hand of Ray Harryhausen detailing the matte lines for the split and the integration of the live action. This binder served as his bible on production and is the initial design and continuity work for all the Dynamation shots, each individually marked with corresponding scene numbers and production notes. Accompanying this folder is the original 142 page script used by Ray on production, it contains reduced high quality photographic prints of his original hand drawn storyboards for all the special effects shots and also contains a number of unpublished behind the scenes on set photographs.

Both these extraordinary documents provide a fascinating insight into the techniques employed by one of the most influential, creative and respected people ever to work in the industry and whose pioneering work will forever have a place in cinematic history.

Movie / TV Show First Men in the Moon