Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) used matte paintings to create the Rebel hangar in Return of The Jedi. Models also played apart. But it’s the artwork that stands out. Nowadays, photorealistic CGI is the default technology for special effects, but in the 70s and 80s, background sets in movies were hand-painted.
Jesus Diaz has more:
Matte paintings are fake sets that-most of the times-used to be made with plexiglass and oil paint. The artists used oversized panels to create the necessary detail that the camera needed to fool the audiences when the film was projected over the large surface of the theater screen. The paintings were combined with live action filmed to match the perspective of the painting. If done well, the public would totally buy into the shot.
These matte paintings were created by Chris Evans, Mike Pangrazio, Frank Ordaz, Harrison Ellenshaw, and Ralph McQuarrie.
In 1985, BBC’s Horizon looks at ILM and visual effects, like optical printing, matte painting and rotoscoping. This is part 2 dealing with matte paintings.
Via Sploid, Kottke