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Glass Matte Producers in front of the glass matte painting used in "Dancer of the Nile"

Special effects become a moviemaker's staple as films move from documentaries to dramatic stories, and the basic arsenal of trick techniques is established.

Edwin Porter's popular "The Great Train Robbery" features matte shots to composite two separate images, placing a shot of a train into the window of a station.

Edwin Porter directs "The Teddy Bears," one of the earliest stop-motion animation films. A short sequence of frolicking teddy bears, just over a minute in length, takes 56 hours to animate.

Glass Matte Preparing glass mattes

Norman O. Dawn pioneers the glass shot for motion pictures, a gag that remains in the filmmaker's arsenal today. For "Missions of California," Dawn's innovation enabled directors to save money by only building a portion of a set and filling in the rest with a painting. Dawn later invents the stationary matte, the foundation of a technique allowing two shots to be combined in one.

Richard Murphy creates a mechanical eagle for "The Eagle's Nest," the forerunner of today's animatronic creatures such as ET and Jaws. The stuffed eagle kidnaps a baby and battles the hero, played by silent director D.W. Griffith.

Continue: 1910s

Photos: Bison Archives

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