Special Effects in Flying Down to Rio

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Flying down to Rio that was released in the year 1933 is one of the landmark movies in the history of Hollywood considering the pioneering effect it had on the movies that followed it in terms of special effects and the use of other modern technology. It is one of the most acclaimed films of all time and won many awards and nominations for its brilliant use of special effects at a time when it was not so much in vogue and made the best of it in various sequences and has carved a niche for itself.

The director of the film Flying down to Rio was Thornton Freeland and the producers of the film were Merian C. Cooper and Lou Brock. Even in those early days of Hollywood movie making, the budget of this movie was a lot and apart from the use of special effects, the actors would not get too much during those days (unlike today), so you can easily imagine how costly the special effects in those days might have been.

The cinematography of the movie was by J. Roy Hunt and Jack Kitchin did all the editing of this movie. The most famous shot of the movie is at the end of the film where there is a dance on the wings of the airplane and this was one shot or sequence that entered the name of this movie to the folklore of Hollywood movies and made Linwood Dunn, who did the special effects for the movie a legend.

In those early days of movie making when there was no technology at all; Dunn made use of the travelling matte technology along with the use of blue screening in order to create the desired effect in the famous dance sequence of Flying down to Rio. The studio that this technology was developed in mostly was the RKO Studios and the infrastructure of the studio helped Dunn immensely who created ‘wipes’ where he had to create transitions such as the windscreen wiper.

Although it may sound very easy and almost like child’s play with the amount of technology that we have now, in those early days, there was not much technology to lean back on and everything had to be done physically and this is where lies the success of Dunn, the editor as well as the cinematographer of Flying down to Rio which have made them legends.