Thread: Matte paintings are apparently more convincing than digital VFX

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  1. #1 Matte paintings are apparently more convincing than digital VFX 
    Senior Member Karim D. Ghantous's Avatar
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  2. #2  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
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    Well, I mean, I'll go out on a sturdy limb and say 99.9% of matte paintings in the last 20 years have been digitally painted. Hell I still occasionally do that work particularly for background extensions or element correction.

    But back then and for a while before it, yes. Hell of an artform too. Some of those early paintings up close really are all about the illusion of light, form, and shape.

    Because I have more time to type actually, matte paintings were done on glass in the foreground pretty often or photographically composited in other ways before digital means.

    However, a fun one!

    Disney came up with "MultiPlane Camera" for 2D Cartoons in the 50's:

    As the evolution of digital matte painting evolved as well as advancements in 3D the concept of "2.5D" matte painting became really common place and still is when camera movement is involved. Often it's easier to build a few planes of 2D paintings and projecting them on a plane or a basic 3D shape and moving them to evoke a sensation of parallax rather than fully building a 3D world, which could take more time and money.

    Every VFX shot gets broken down in a bidding process, but I wills say for sure on a few films I worked on we used simple multiplane projection and animation a few times where full 3D builds initially were bid to both save time and money. Daredevil has a few great examples in it by matte painter Dylan Cole.

    With a decent VFX Supervisor and artists, you'd be hard pressed to really know when something like this would be "CG" or not really. Tons of stuff, especially on block busters, is just not there. But that's the point. You shouldn't notice or we've done our job poorly.

    If you want to see some pretty pictures.

    Craig Mullins was/is one of the best back when I started in the industry and much of his work is not online:

    One of the earliest guys doing crazy good digital really. Classically trained and his theory and notes helped me on early on.

    I worked with Dylan Cole on a few films and he's since gone on to working on Avatar and all sorts of fun things:

    I have a short list of the best matte painters in the world, they are obviously both on it if you ever need that work for a project. Dylan's speed back in the day was unreal compared to many other artists at the time. His career moved faster in 5 years than I think anybody else's I saw during that time.

    Matte painting these days is often a combination of using photographic elements and/or reference to match the plate, but there's a few guys and gals out there who do stuff out of their mind that will blow your mind. Those are a rare bird.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member David Collard's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    And one of the greatest matte painters is - Albert Whitlock (deceased)

    Also, one of Disney's greats - Peter Ellenshaw (deceased):
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