Arthur Widmer, 92, Special Effects Pioneer, Dies

Arthur Widmer, who developed some of the most widely used special effects technology in films and received an Academy Award last year for lifetime achievement, died here on May 28. He was 92. The cause was cancer, his publicist, Jane Ayer, told The Los Angeles Times.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Mr. Widmer the award in 2005 for his work in developing Ultra Violet and “blue screen” special effects processes. Working for Warner Brothers in the 1950’s, Mr. Widmer developed the Ultra Violet Traveling Matte process, an early version of what would become known as blue screen, in which two different images shot at different times and places could be combined into one.

“If you want to have a couple sitting at a cafe in Paris, you could send the couple to Paris and hire a crew and get all the lights and stop the traffic and shoot it, but that would be very expensive,” Mr. Widmer told The Los Angeles Business Journal last year. “Instead, you get a little mock-up on the stage of the table and chairs and set the couple there and shoot them against the blue screen in the background.”

He left Warner Brothers in 1964 to design and build the optical department for Universal Studios, where he continued the development of blue screen and other visual effects until he retired in 1979.

The Associated Press




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