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December 13


Winter 2019

Final Frame: MARY POPPINS’ Oscar-Winning Effects – 55 Years Ago

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney

The visual effects for Robert Stevenson’s 1964 Mary Poppins came together via a unique collaboration of on-set physical effects, matte painting, process photography, in-camera effects, traveling mattes and optical printing. This enabled the lead character to fly, and also interact at various times with 2D-animated characters. Several scenes in the film made use of the sodium vapor process, in which actors were filmed in front of a white screen lit with sodium vaporlights. The technique was invented by Petro Vlahos who, with Ub Iwerks and Wadsworth E. Pohl, was awarded an Oscar statuette in 1965 for the conception and perfection of techniques for Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography.

Mary Poppins would go on to be recognized with the 1964 Academy Award for Special Visual Effects, awarded to Peter Ellenshaw, Eustace Lycett and Hamilton Luske.

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