Friday 29 March 2024

Alaska Seas 1954

Among a sprinkling of picturesque matte paintings there is some very well executed model boat sequences in this film with the visual effects supervised by John P. Fulton.

Most of the miniature action centres around ice falling from a glacier onto a couple of salmon boats. The break up of the ice is fairly well done. One stand out shot is where the rudder and prop is broken off a boat sliding off a rising chunk of ice. 

A good proportion of the miniature work is used as rear projected process scenes for live action in the foreground. A few of these process screen miniature shots have moving mechanical figures on the boats which really brings them to life. 

The matte paintings are combined with both live action elements and in some case miniatures.

The whole movie can be found on youtube.

UPDATE: Thanks to NZ Pete's comments (which you can read below) I now know virtually all the visual effects miniature  and matte shots were taken from 1938's Spawn of the North with the miniatures supervised by Gordon Jennings. The effects were awarded a special Academy Award for this work.
You can find the NZ Pete's excellent and thoroughly researched Matte Shot Blog here.

Matte painting of a Native village

Matte painting background with a live action foreground.

Almost all matte painting except for the water surface and small boats which looks like a miniature.

Figures on the background miniature boat are mechanically animated.

Another live action foreground combined with a matte painted background.


  1. ALASKA SEAS was an almost by the book remake of the much earlier Paramount sea epic SPAWN OF THE NORTH (1938), and practically every matte and miniature effects shot here was lifted directly from the older SPAWN (not unusual for Paramount!), which incidentally was the very first film to win a special Oscar for achievement in Special Visual and Sound Effects before it became a regular Academy category a year later.

    Peter (aka NZ Pete)

  2. Practically every FX shot in ALASKA SEAS was lifted wholesale from Paramount's much earlier SPAWN OF THE NORTH which was the first film to win a special Oscar for Special Visual & Sound Effects in 1938. Notably, along with Gordon Jennings, some 8 effects guys were acknowledged by the Academy for SPAWN.
    The FX Academy Award became a regular thing the following year.

    Peter (aka NZ Pete)

    1. Thanks for setting me straight. I had a suspicion that maybe I had seen these shots before. I have been looking for a decent copy of Spawn of the North for many years without any success. Still looking.


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