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ScotchTapeWorm3D
11-04-2008, 10:05 PM
I've mostly only seen matte paintings that say they use photos, as well as a tutorial or 2 using photos? does that mean that matt painters don't actually draw their stuff? That kind of doesn't fit the word Matte "Painting" I want to get into matte painting, but not if photos are being used.

JJASSO
11-04-2008, 10:16 PM
remember the name matte painting is the traditional romantic way to call it, but matte painting in the actual time is a mixture of multiple techniques, like 3D, 2D painting, photo manipulation, model kits.
what is important is the final result no matter what it takes to achieve one image , it all depends on the technique you come up, photos are so important and all professional matte painters use them , so unless you can paint so photorealistic and perfect images without noticing the strokes then don't use it, photos are a quick , custom and can help you avoid the use of 3D or creating a maquette, painting the complete frame will take you way longer to complete an image, so reconsider this
all these techniques combined will help you create better camera projections as well ,
painting is still nedeed of course but for details,cloning or elements that can be easily painted ,I suggest you take a look at the matte painting gnomon dvd's , chris stoski, dusso and dylan cole, they all used photos and 2d painting, and they will show you there why it is cool and fast ,
good luck in your matte painting goals

Matellis
11-04-2008, 10:39 PM
James got it spot on. If your interested in just painting you could always become a backgrounds artist for cartoons etc. Matte Painting is not about the image you create. Its about creating a backdrop to help the story and directors vision in film, games, commercials and TV.

ScotchTapeWorm3D
11-04-2008, 10:50 PM
James got it spot on. If your interested in just painting you could always become a backgrounds artist for cartoons etc. Matte Painting is not about the image you create. Its about creating a backdrop to help the story and directors vision in film, games, commercials and TV.

Oh I see. That's because they don't have to be photoreal. They are allowed to be styleized

beaker
11-05-2008, 05:54 AM
I've mostly only seen matte paintings that say they use photos, as well as a tutorial or 2 using photos? does that mean that matt painters don't actually draw their stuff? That kind of doesn't fit the word Matte "Painting" I want to get into matte painting, but not if photos are being used.It is a name out of legacy from when they used to create matte paintings of backgrounds on giant pieces of glass.

nickmarshallvfx
11-06-2008, 03:05 PM
Yea, while painting is still used a lot to rough out shots and to blend elements, a lot of matte painting is photo manipulation now. Its just faster to get a photo texture on there than paint every tree on that distant hill or whatever it may be.
The artistic know-how is still very important to matte painters because otherwise you will not be able to pick the right photos, and do things like perspective matching, colour correction and creating a good composition, which is why a lot of people here and at mattepainting.org do lots of sketches and concept paintings to keep them sharp.

Nick

Rockhoppermedia
11-06-2008, 05:03 PM
Sometimes when using photos you are left with gaps that need filling in or detail that needs to be put in. If cloning/patching/copying does not work you have to be able to paint it.

In todays commercial world you have to be economical with your time. You have to use the quickest way to get the job done. Which is why photos are used. A lot of us do speed painting in front of a director and you have to be able to paint to do that. The art department spend more time on research and preparation involving a lot of painting. Theu do not have the time to paint everything for a matte. I spend more time going through stock images just to find the right image.

Some of us carry cameras with us and do our own photos from things they see on there travels.

I have seen cut out photos stuck onto a sheet of glass that have been painted over for the old style glass mattes.

I spent twenty minutes looking at the Millenium Falcon matte from empire strikes back. It was on a sheet of glass 8 x 11 inches. Every brush stroke was done quite roughly but the use of colour, brush stroke direction helped sell the image as a real. In no way was it photorealistic. These skills still apply today its knowing when to stop putting the detail in that matters.

Multimedia is still important in matte painting as it was 90 years ago. As a previous poster and fantastic artist said you still have to know how to compose, use light and tone.

If you didnt have that photo well that is when your painting skills come out.

I think matte painters who use different sources are probably more talented than a photorealistic oil/acrylic painter.

Just my thoughts on the matter.


Rich

Prolific poster, Professional Photographer, Poor painter :arteest:

CodeNothing
11-07-2008, 06:46 PM
If a matte painter is not skilled in the art of painting, all the photos in the world wont be able to save him.

Simon Wicker
11-08-2008, 10:07 AM
If a matte painter is not skilled in the art of painting, all the photos in the world wont be able to save him.

if the photo fails fire up the 3d app.

you don't have to be a painter to be a matte painter.

this is a big field and there is room for plenty of different skillsets.

the end result is all that matters (and there are as many ways to get there as there are artists).

cheers, simon w.

TomasWarren
11-08-2008, 10:00 PM
Maybe you don't need to be a painter, but you definitely need a good understanding of painting- colour, light and composition theory etc. Especially if yo're doing concepts as well

Simon Wicker
11-09-2008, 08:08 AM
all of that, though, is general art theory that applies no matter what field you may be practicing.

matte painting is quite specific, it is the creation of a photorealistic environment used in film or television.

at its simplest matte painting should be a totally mechanical process (much more akin to graphic design than painting). you are simply functioning as a camera, photographing what the director could not achieve himself on set, either because of budget, safety or whatever.

however because you are working within a storytelling environment this is where your artistic ability is called upon (because the director will have a specific story telling intention or plot point that your shot is trying to convey). it is here, and only here, that you are allowed to adjust or bend the shots natural characteristics as a way of enhancing the storyline.

cheers, simon w.

Molte
11-09-2008, 11:52 AM
matte painting is quite specific, it is the creation of an environment used in film or television.


Corrected.
Just as a reminder that matte paints dont allways need to (or can) be photorealistic.
It is definitly a big + for a matte painter thats able to paint.

Simon Wicker
11-09-2008, 05:06 PM
Corrected.
Just as a reminder that matte paints dont allways need to (or can) be photorealistic.
It is definitly a big + for a matte painter thats able to paint.

a matte painting is always photorealistic, people that produce backgrounds that are non-photorealistic are not creating matte paintings (and these people would generally come under the label of background artists).

i'm sorry but people are failing to see how absolutely specific the role of a matte painter is and just how narrow the job definition.

if this was not the case then by now we would all be calling ourselves environment artists or digital artists or what not. what we do has a history that started when cinema began and this history is something that every matte painter is proud to be part of.

matte painting is not concept art, background art, digital painting or in any way illustrative.

cheers, simon w.

eyecon
11-09-2008, 05:11 PM
ScotchTapeWorm3D,

Although it might sound easy, being as it is just "photo-manipulation", it never is. 90% of the time, the photos that you take or the images that your using as reference is not good enough and needs tweaking and slight overpaints. Not only that you have to match the perspective, color, mood, shadows and hue, and the film grain with real world image blurriness. (never sharpen an image)...

Not only do you need a talent for painting (to see the image and create a beautiful composition), nowadays you must also know 3D and its basic modelling, lighting. Camera works are also needed. You also need to composite your images in a compositing program, ever just as a simple straight comp.

Now a lot of people here might disagree with me BUT, if you really want to make it in the industry these are your key skills... (not unless you're as kick-ass as DUSSO, STOSKI, JASSO, DYLAN COLE etc etc...)

But above all, your eye for what looks realistic must be exemptional.... or else you'll end up with a Photo Manipulated image only and NOT a mattepaint.

To an extent, where I'm working right now, I learned the vastness and intricacy of mattepainting where they take it to levels I never even dreamed possible... (car chase mattepainting anyone?)

So in the end of the day, we say yeah, its part photomanipulation, part painting, but still 90% raw talent.

Cheers mate, hope this will reignite the fire in you to become a mattepainter again.... :D

beaker
11-09-2008, 07:49 PM
a matte painting is always photorealistic, people that produce backgrounds that are non-photorealistic are not creating matte paintings (and these people would generally come under the label of background artists).Every animation company in the world seems to disagree with you. Please go tell Disney, Dreamworks, Bluesky, Pixar and every other 3d animation company that they should stop advertising for "Matte Painters".

Environmental artists tend to be pure 3d(though usually that title is mainly used in games) and Matte painters are more 2d (though they make use 3d to create the 2d elements).

http://www.cgexplorer.com/2008/09/08/digital-matte-painter-paul-duncan-on-kung-fu-panda/
http://mattepainting.org/vb/showthread.php?t=3905

Simon Wicker
11-09-2008, 08:30 PM
or maybe they realize that if they need people who are interested in both 2d, 2.5d and 3d work then a skilled matte painter fits the bill?

according to your logic anyone who has ever made a background environment is a matte painter so suddenly we can relabel all the old geezers painting up scary woods and creepy castles in all the old disney films.

just because i have produced most of my work in 3d it doesn't suddenly makes me an environments artist.

in the same way i don't call myself a compositor even though i produce the comps for all my shots and i don't consider myself a concept artist even though i make rough versions of my matte paintings.

if i did work on a game or animated feature then i certainly wouldn't be touting my MATTE paintings then i would be showing people my digital environments work.

cheers, simon w.

Molte
11-09-2008, 08:59 PM
This could be an interesting new topic discussion,
but for now, all (3d) animation projects ive been involved inn, a matte, photorealistic or not, have been labled a matte.

Simon Wicker
11-09-2008, 10:12 PM
if people would like i can always trawl through the many posts here in this very forum where people have been told that their work looks too much like a digital painting or illustration to be considered a matte painting.

you can't have this both ways. you cannot say that a matte painting can be non-photorealistic and then EVER criticize someone for doing something that looks illustrative.

if i were to do a fantasy castle and post it here would that be a matte painting?

but if it were to appear in a film like shrek? would simply appearing in the film and being produced by a matte painter make it a matte painting?

no.

and the reason is because it is not photorealistic.

cheers, simon w.

Rockhoppermedia
11-09-2008, 11:00 PM
Art of the invisible,

well said Simon

eyecon
11-10-2008, 02:27 AM
I have to agree with Simon Wicker.

Mattepaints should be realsitic. May it be a scifi or an invisible matte, it still should be realistic.

On the arguement regarding Pixar and all the other Animations studio hiring Mattepainters, that is probably due to the nature of work. Most mattepainters are skiled in doing things realistically, and although stylized as it may be, the animations we love still go for a realistic feel - approach. It is then safe to say that mattepainters can deal with these productions problems easilly than any environment artist who maybe only skillfull in either 2D or 3D, whereas a matrepainter can be both these guys interchangeably and can output more work in less time with the same quality. Hence "Hiring Mattepainters". On a side note, mattepainters have a knack at problem solving and doing "cheats" to easily achieve the requirements

On a technical note, if its not realistic enough, then its not mattepainting, its an amazing CG Background, It's not demeaning, its just the way it is.

This arguement could go on and on, but in the end of the day, its what you do that matters, its either you love it or not.

Cheers!

Matellis
11-10-2008, 02:36 AM
I am calling myself a background artist from now on. This whole "what is matte painting?" can go on forever in these forums (and already has).

I think if you really want to market yourself in the entertainment business its best to learn all you can from painting , 3D, photo manipulation and so on. The more skills you have the better off you are.

beaker
11-10-2008, 02:44 AM
I still don't get where you guys got that matte paintings have to be realistic and invisible. Just because there is a book called "The invisible Art" doesn't make it so. The original meaning of the words was simply a "matte", ie alpha channel in todays terms used to composite the image between the original film and the "painting". According to all your definitions a matte painter is subjective to whether or not someone believes it is realistic or not, which is plain bogus imho. If you go by that definition then 90% of the "matte paintings" aren't actually "matte paintings" because they may be surreal or non realistic in some way. All of you are just slicing hairs. Background painting, matte painting, its all the same f'ing thing.

Matellis
11-10-2008, 03:00 AM
I still don't get where you guys got that matte paintings have to be realistic and invisible. Just because there is a book called "The invisible Art" doesn't make it so. The original meaning of the words was simply a "matte", ie alpha channel in todays terms used to composite the image between the original film and the "painting". According to all your definitions a matte painter is subjective to whether or not someone believes it is realistic or not, which is plain bogus imho. If you go by that definition then 90% of the "matte paintings" aren't actually "matte paintings" because they may be surreal or non realistic in some way. All of you are just slicing hairs. Background painting, matte painting, its all the same f'ing thing.

I agree with you. I know for me personally when I made the choice to start learning matte painting it was never in my mind to only make photorealistic backgrounds but rather I started learning about all types of backgrounds in general. Because one week you might be working on a video game matte painting and they want you to go with the style of the game. And then the next week you might be only adding a roof to a building for a film.

nickmarshallvfx
11-10-2008, 03:38 AM
The line moves and shifts around all the time, its impossible to pin down.

There was no such thing as computer animation when the traditional matte paintings were in their prime, so there was never a question about whether to do it stylised or not. It just had to be real!

We are in a generation now where completely real has become so commonplace, that we watch incredibly stylised movies like '300'. Were the matte's in that still matte paintings? They certainly weren't designed to look 100% realistic. They did however have to seamlessly fit into the aesthetic that the films visuals had established. Is that any different from matte painting for feature animation? Who knows...

What about very realistic background paintings for animation like Beowulf?

Either way, for me personally, i love all aspects of environment work, from concept art thru matte painting, and as such ill be presenting myself as a digital environments artist when i hit the job market. Ill be applying for matte painting positions though.

Seems like even among top professional matte painters, there is still no general consensus...

Nick

eyecon
11-10-2008, 08:30 AM
Its actually very sad that people are arguing this. Mattepainting has somehow evolved to an extent where the lines are blurred out. You can never really tell anyone that his work is a not a mattepaint or a mattepaint.

The definition doesn't say it should be real, it says it should look realistic and believable, where real world rules apply. Thats the very reason why the real mattepaints was done, to create a "realistic environment" that could replace a set. The same thing is happening now.

Now why do people consider backgrounds in these animation mattepainting? Because its easier to say and write than " We want to hire people who know how to paint realistically and can apply that same skill on an animated flim that will use techniques that are also applied on mattepaintings." So... mattepainter.. one word says it all. No more explanation and you have a concrete idea on what to do on that job.

No one is telling anybody to call themselves background artist, that is a pesonal choice... if you like mattepainting and want to do that go ahead... I think nobody will try to argue with you. Definitions are just there to define differences, thats all... call it what you want, Mattepaint, Background, Virtual environment, etc. etc...

So guys lighten up, don't get all worked up with definitions. Those are just word, thats all they are. :D

CodeNothing
11-10-2008, 08:59 AM
Let me throw in my two cents....

Matte painting:
Original definition: a traditionally painted image used to expand an environment, when it was not financially possible to shoot on location, or build the set.

Digital matte painting:
A digital image used to expand an environment, when it was not financially possible to shoot on location or build the set....


Now, this includes CG film and Video Games as far as I'm concerned, as long as the image is "Expanding the environment to save your budget". It takes far longer to model and texture a massive environment than it does to just paint and manipulate it. And in the case of video games, it's not just the financial budget your saving.


....And to quickly comment on my last statement, If you do not know how to paint (that is, have knowledge of color, shape, composition, lighting, etc...) You will be an awful matte painter. If you do know composition, color, shape, lighting, etc... then you know how to paint. To suggest anyone can create a matte using nothing but a 3D application sounds ridiculous to me, but if it exists id certainly like to see some examples.

@ simon wicker: do you know of any successful matte painters who claim to not know how to paint? or have not taken painting classes?

Simon Wicker
11-10-2008, 12:06 PM
@ simon wicker: do you know of any successful matte painters who claim to not know how to paint? or have not taken painting classes?

what do you consider successful?

look i hate painting. it is the most difficult thing in the world for me to do. if you put a gun to my head i try and get away with it but it is a last resort for me. i studied art (general foundation course that included painting and the graphic design) but it isn't something that i enjoy doing.

i'm really worried that young aspiring artists are going to look around, wondering about whether or not they should try out matte painting as a discipline but get put off by the notion that unless they paint like dusso then there isn't a place for them here. i'd like to reassure them that actually this is a broad road an there are many ways to get from A to B.

why did 90% of the digimatte department at ILM start learning vue during pirates? all of these things are tools in an artists arsenal. and they help to create a fully rounded generalist. but you don't have to be equally good at everything. when i was working at ILM on revenge of the sith we all borrowed yannick's dvd's to watch at home and everyone but everyone who saw them came in the next day and said 'how the **** did he do that?' this is the problem you get when the best matte painter in the world produces a training dvd - in many ways i would like to see some of the jobbing matte painters asked to do a dvd so that young people get a chance to see the range of skills that are floating around.

i can relate another story from yusei uesugi. we have all seen the photo of yusei working on the die hard 2 matte painting. the actual painting hangs in the corridor outside the lunch room at ILM and i spent many an hour looking over that. it is truly a work of genius. in fact one might think that for someone who was so skilled at painting they might carry on working that way. but for yusei it was never about the process, only the end result. he painted these huge boards because at the time there was no other way of doing these things. nowadays yusei is truly the king of 3d matte paintings - all his working on coruscant is amazing and the reason why i will be getting the new ballistic matte painting book. every skill or tool that he uses (such as vue on his work for eragon) is based around what will get him the most realistic result possible.

deke writes very passionately that this is all really the same, environments, backgrounds, matte paintings, etc. but i still believe that personally they are not. all the companies that he posted were asking for matte painters, not background artists or 3d environment artists but matte painters, so clearly in the minds of pixar, etc. a matte painter IS different.

cheers, simon w.

everlite
11-10-2008, 01:46 PM
This could be an interesting new topic discussion,
but for now, all (3d) animation projects ive been involved inn, a matte, photorealistic or not, have been labled a matte.

Yes, that may be true, but that doesn't mean it is a matte painting, simply, as you said, that's the label it's given; usually by art directors and HR people who stick everything environment related under the same banner because they don't know any better.

Every animation company in the world seems to disagree with you. Please go tell Disney, Dreamworks, Bluesky, Pixar and every other 3d animation company that they should stop advertising for "Matte Painters".

Don't you think it's the case that the title has become such a broads term used to describe a role that has far more expectations than a matte painter should be required to undertake? Another technique becomes available and they shove it under the matte painters role simply because its environment related.

Its possibly true that a matte painter as in the traditional sense simply doesn't exist today, for one; painting is rarely used except to blend seams, simply because the alternative solutions are much quicker. Where photography doesn't exist 3d will, and it will be the role of the "matte painter" to bring this to a photo realistic level and maybe re-project back onto the geometry. At this point you quickly fall into the category of environment artist, especially in smaller studios where you're expected to add additional environment effects and in some cases comp the shot yourself.

To maintain the legacy of matte painting, especially given that its place is all put gone due to the evolving and every changing industry we have to hold a clear and distinct line between matte painting and traditional fine art/illustration landscapes etc. Matte painting is with intended purpose photorealistic, invisible and seamless with a live action plate. Another point been with the exception of establishing shots most DMPs shouldn't draw attention to themselves or lead the viewer away from the focus of the scene. This is a skill in itself, to make your work look dull and unnoticeable:)

A matte painting ISN'T concepts, near photo realistic concepts, fine art, stylised illustrations, bird flapping in the wind, dragons, glowing mushrooms ... i mean has anyone looked at mattepainting.org recently? i'm looking now and every image on the front page can be categorised as the above! there's even one that looks like a water painting!!! dont get be wrong, great pieces of art in themselves ... but not matte paintings!!

anyway before i start screaming like a random drunk person with fleas i'll say no more :)

Dave out.

everlite
11-10-2008, 01:49 PM
@ simon wicker: do you know of any successful matte painters who claim to not know how to paint? or have not taken painting classes?

I've been working as a professional matte painter for two years and worked on a number of high profile projects ... and yes i have to confess i've never had a painting class in my life and would say that my fine art skills are pretty useless :)

Dave.

Simon Wicker
11-10-2008, 02:34 PM
adding to this, in this day and age there are always going to be pieces where we look at them and can't decide what we are looking at. is it a matte painting? or is it a digital environment. what could be the defining qualities that separate them?

the art establishment went through this years ago when marcel duchamp signed a urinal and created a readymade. is it art? what made it art? that it was produced by an artist? that it was exhibited in a gallery?

obviously this is going to polarize opinion, with one reaction to be to broaden the scope of appreciation (so anything can be art or anything can be a matte painting).

cheers, simon w.

beaker
11-10-2008, 04:59 PM
Yes, that may be true, but that doesn't mean it is a matte painting, simply, as you said, that's the label it's given; usually by art directors and HR people who stick everything environment related under the same banner because they don't know any better. HR people don't create position names, supervisors/producers do.

Don't you think it's the case that the title has become such a broads term used to describe a role that has far more expectations than a matte painter should be required to undertake? Another technique becomes available and they shove it under the matte painters role simply because its environment related.Most people only seem to remember the matte paintings which were realistic but always forget about ones from films where they we're much more surreal and fantastical like Blackhole, Wizard of Oz, Marry Poppin, Tron and countless others.

nickmarshallvfx
11-10-2008, 05:25 PM
I have seen matte paintings from LOTR where large areas were left very sketchy because they were only going to be in shot very briefly or were nowhere near the focal area of the shot.

Also, i notice that when looking at shots from speed racer and comparing them to shots from Pixar's Ratatouille, even though one is a live action feature and the other an animated feature, the shots from ratatouille are much more realistic.

Compare:

http://io9.com/assets/resources/2008/04/qtlHD-2.qtl.jpg


To this shot from ratatouille:

http://storyfanatic.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/ratatouille_paris_small.jpg


Im not about to tell the matte department that worked on speed racer that their work isnt matte painting just because it isn't 100% real.

Also, here is an interesting interview with Matte Painter Ronn Brown. He has worked on several big live action movies, and is now heading Dreamworks matte department, and has some interesting points on the subject:

http://www.cgchannel.com/news/viewfeature.jsp?newsid=5711


Anyway, for me, ill still consider mattes that are stylised or not in live action productions to be matte paintings. I guess the persons portfolio should speak for itself and let the companies be the ones arguing about whether we are or are not matte painters, not arguing it amongst ourselves.

Cheers

Nick

CodeNothing
11-10-2008, 10:33 PM
The speed racer / rat-a-tooy example is perfect.

Yes, speed racer matte is very styalized, but so is the FILM it was in, and its PURPOSE in that film was to EXTEND THE ENVIRONMENT. without making models of it, finding something like it in real life, or rendering (video) of a 3D version of it.

the matte in pixars film served the same purpose. Neither of them, look "photo real". But both of them look like they belong in with the rest of the elements of the film.

which brings me back to the deffinition of.... A matte painting is an image added to the film to enhance, or extend the environment to save money. That IS the deffinition of a matte. period. There are plenty of great environment paintings that could be used as a matte if you were to add it to film. but untill you composite it to film, it is not a matte. it is just an environment painting. Nothing wrong with that, its just a deffinition. And for the sake of defining and catagorizing, thats the best deffinittion of a 'matte' you are ever going to get. You can add anything to film, as you can see the speedracer image is far from looking 'real' but it serves its purpose of showing an environment behind the live action plate. There fore, its is a matte painting.


Honestly I dont care when people use the phrase "matte" for there work. As i said before, all that matters is that its serving the purpose of extending or enhancing an environment by using 2D images instead of 3D, or real life, for the purpose of saving time and money. And if your calling something a 'matte painting' your usualy refering that the piece is meant to be used for that tradition. and thats fine. Im realy not not pickey, or care. But if someone wants a deffinition, thats as good as its going to get.

Simon Wicker
11-11-2008, 09:03 AM
these definitions are way too slack!

looking at the images posted from speed racer and ratatouille are we sure they were matte paintings? taking into account our past experience of how these companies and vfx teams like to work i would imagine that both of those were the creation of an environments team and a digital environment created by a department of people is NOT a matte painting.

a traditional matte painting is the work of a single artist, an artist and an apprentice or an artist working with assets created as part of a team.

for example in Attack of the Clones: in the sequence where obi wan kenobi is chasing the bounty hunter through coruscant the sequence does not use any matte paintings (all of the backgrounds are digital environments created by the 3d department at ILM).

in king kong when kong is atop the empire state building the digital environment does not constitute a matte painting because a large team built the environment around the empire state building. this sequence does use matte painted elements for the distant buildings and skyline.

you can extend this over to games where you have an environments team spending several years building a city or landscape to encompass the game. this may well use many of the techniques used by matte painters but the final result cannot be considered a matte painting.

in Revenge of the Sith when yusei uesugi creates a full 3d environment of coruscant that IS a matte painting because you have a single artist with complete control of the environment creating the image.

you cannot say that every environment (as long as it is in sympathy with the surrounding elements) is a matte painting because clearly it is too easy to pick out backgrounds that fulfill these requirements but are not matte paintings. the backgrounds in any miyazaki film are beautiful and fully in sympathy with their surroundings but they are not matte paintings. if i make a film stickboys adventures in stickland my stick trees and stick houses are most fitting but they are not matte paintings.

it is very strange to me that we are part of a long tradition of artists stretching back to the dawn of filmmaking but instead of trying to uphold that tradition we are simply allowing it to fall away. now everything is a matte painting and everyone is a matte painter.

cheers, simon w.

Matellis
11-11-2008, 04:10 PM
it is very strange to me that we are part of a long tradition of artists stretching back to the dawn of filmmaking but instead of trying to uphold that tradition we are simply allowing it to fall away. now everything is a matte painting and everyone is a matte painter.

cheers, simon w.

I dont think anyone is letting it fall away. I think its more about it evolving with technology.

beaker
11-11-2008, 04:14 PM
matte painting is quite specific, it is the creation of a photorealistic environment used in film or television.

a matte painting is always photorealistic, people that produce backgrounds that are non-photorealistic are not creating matte paintings (and these people would generally come under the label of background artists).

So I have to go back to this quote because you are now changing your definition of "Matte painting" to being done by a single person because your previous argument all of a sudden has holes in it. You still never explained why Wizard of Oz and Marry Poppins are considered matte painting. Both are in the "The Invisible Art" so your previous arguments are a little hard to quantify. The single person thing is bogus too because there are many famous matte paintings on glass done by more then one artist.

You seem to be defending this definition you are rolling out of whole cloth post by post simply to protect the sanctity of your job title.

nickmarshallvfx
11-11-2008, 04:14 PM
a matte painting is always photorealistic

looking at the images posted from speed racer and ratatouille are we sure they were matte paintings?

This is what i meant when i said the line is too blurred to pin down. These statements seem to contradict each other. That is why i think its so difficult to completely assess what is, and what isn't a matte painting, because unlike traditional matte artists, there are many films being made where even the live action looks completely phoney.
That's before we even get into the differences between complete photorealism and hyper-realism...

for example in Attack of the Clones: in the sequence where obi wan kenobi is chasing the bounty hunter through coruscant the sequence does not use any matte paintings (all of the backgrounds are digital environments created by the 3d department at ILM).

We seem to have suddenly changed topic from whether stylised paintings can be matte paintings, to whether full 3d scene's can be matte paintings, but that's ok, they are both interesting and related i guess.

You said how the coruscant sequence was not a matte painting because it was created in full 3d by 3d dept, and then go on to say that Yusei Uesugi's full 3d scene WAS a matte painting because it was all created by one artist. So is your definition of a matte painting purely that it was created by one person rather than a team?
What about matte's that are worked on by 2 or 3 artists, as is the case in a few professional matte's that i have seen?

In my mind, if a scene is created in full 3D, textured, lit and rendered in 3D and then composited straight into the shot, it falls under 3d environment rather than matte painting. I guess some people will agree with that and some disagree, but that's why i think its so hard to pin down.

it is very strange to me that we are part of a long tradition of artists stretching back to the dawn of filmmaking but instead of trying to uphold that tradition we are simply allowing it to fall away. now everything is a matte painting and everyone is a matte painter.).

I have a deep and serious respect for all of the traditional matte painters, and study anything and everything that i can find with regards to traditional matte painting.
However, we are in a digital age now, and the art form from traditional matte painting has almost completely evolved into something else with digital matte painting. You said yourself earlier in this thread how you are a successful matte painter who cant paint traditionally at all...
If i could ask Albert Whitlock and Peter Ellenshaw exactly what they would classify as a matte painting in todays digital age, i would love to do that, but i have a feeling that even they would have a hard time deciding where to draw the line between matte painting, background painting, stylised matte painting, photoreal and hyper-real matte paintings and 3d environments... Its just a very different art form now than it used to be, with lots of people having lots of diverse skills.

Nick

Simon Wicker
11-11-2008, 04:53 PM
i'm not changing my definition, simply expanding on what i think. a matte painting is a photorealistic background. a matte painting is generally produced by a single artist (but i qualified that by saying that you will often have a senior/junior setup, etc).

so far everywhere i've worked have allocated one shot to one artist so i think it fairly accurate to say that if you have a team of 50 artists creating a sequence where you are splitting out each discipline in a traditional 3d pipeline of model, texture, layout, lighting, you have a digital environment and if you have a single artist you are dealing with a matte painting. this would be why yusei creating coruscant comes under the matte painting label and the coruscant chase is a digital environment.

a matte painter has always been a jack of all trades, taking an image from raw input through to final output with control of how an image looks - this was one of the things that first attracted me to the job. i can model, but i don't want to be a modeller, i can texture but don't wish to be a texture artist. being a matte painter is the best of all worlds because you end up touching all areas of visual effects.

i've already said that there are going to be examples that bend the rules because that is just the way art in the twentieth century has progressed. there are always going to be things that make you think 'hmm, how do you label this?'

however just because we are entering this new age i still don't think that we can just say that everything is a matte painting, there is still a traditional common ground for what is a matte painting and what is not.

i still believe that a background in a film like spirited away would not be considered a matte painting. this is not to say that they are not beautiful and amazing because they are - but they are NOT matte paintings.

now if we think that the background used in an animated film like that is not a matte painting then what difference is there between that and the background from ratatouille? what process occurred to make one a matte painting and not the other?

or do we consider that there is no cut off point and even my stick film would be considered a matte painting if i entered it into the ves?

cheers, simon w.

nickmarshallvfx
11-12-2008, 12:01 AM
I guess in a very loose way, yes, i would consider the backgrounds for a Miyazaki film to be matte paintings. Even your stick man movie....

The difference is, by that stage, you have gone so far away from requiring the skills and techniques offered by a matte painter, that it would be pointless advertising it as a matte painting job.

I see the point you are making, and in my head i really wouldnt watch a Miyazaki film for its matte paintings, but its where to draw that line, and i dont think that is anything set in stone, i think it is just a persons personal decision on where that line lies.

The thing is, backgrounds for animation (back in, say, 1950) and matte painting for film (in the same era), were totally different jobs carried out by totally different people. Now with that work being done in the same software and with similar skills required, it becomes very difficult to know where one ends and the next begins.

If traditional matte painting and traditional backgrounds for animation are the 2 extremes, then 3d animated features represent the middle ground that becomes hard to define. Movies like Speed Racer and 300, and some Japanese films now that are moving towards more 3d realism and utilising more of the technology from western animated features, only serve to blur the line even more in both directions...

That is why i dont think there is a right and wrong about where matte painting stops and something else begins, its just down to where an individual believes they have crossed the line from matte painting into something else...

Cheers

Nick

CodeNothing
11-12-2008, 12:18 AM
it doesnt matter how many artists worked on it. a matte painting is a single 2D element that enhances or expands an environment.

a 3D chase sequence is not a matte. Its a 3D environment that took a ton of rendering and compositing as a 'video' sequence to achieve. (although there were probably a lot of loose mattes in the background behind the 3D buildings that were wizing by...)

the STILL image of coruscant, though rendered in 3D, is a still image. it was rendered once, the chase sequences of 3D elements were rendered many thousands of times as a video file.

you see why coruscant was cheaper and faster by comparison? why render it thousands of times while its on screen when you can render it ONCE slap it on a matte plate, composite, and your done?

2D cartoon backgrounds do not count as a matte because they are not saving time, or money. there is no other way to have a background in a 2D animation except to paint a background. Its not trying to pretend to be something its not. Mattes are there to convince you there is an environment back there when there is not. and its used to save time and money.

yea i'm a grouchy old painter. :beer:

Simon Wicker
11-12-2008, 09:18 AM
as you can see there are many opinions.

code nothing thinks that a matte painting is 2d and once you move to 3d then you have a digital environment. deke also mentioned in his first post how matte paintings are generally 2d. they have their own view of what matte painter does.

i don't think there would be many matte painters who would agree with their categorization though. with modern filming styles 2d matte paintings are moving far into the background and the majority of work nowadays is 2.5d or 3d.

it is all about alchemy really. at what point does one thing transmute into another?

for codenothing as soon as something moves then it transmutes. it changes from being a matte painting into an environment.

for yourself you think their is no transmutation. the is always gold we just aren't looking at it in the right way.

i use these criteria:

film>>>>>>>>>>>>non-film

is it used in a film? is it used in a non-film related area? films have matte paintings. book jackets don't. you can't show me an illustration and say it is a matte painting. what are the problems with this? where do games fit in here? is an environment in a game using matte painting techniques still a matte painting?

photorealistic>>>>>>>>>>>>non-photorealistic

is it photorealistic? is is non-photorealistic? stick boys adventures in stickland are a no-no. despite the best will in the world they are not and never can be a matte painting simply because they have moved to far along the line away from photorealism. problems with this? deke would mention (and has, several times) the wizard of oz and mary poppins because for him they are moving away from pure photorealism towards stylization. the same thing goes for speed racer and ratatouille. but how far towards stylization have they actually gone with the matte paintings? how many of the rules of photorealism have they broken and how many have they adapted and adjusted?

one artist>>>>>>>>>>>>many artists

a matte painting exists on the far left of this line. in general a single artist shepherds the shot through to completion. there may be a senior/junior thing going on, or layout/finishing, etc. but once you move towards large scale groups working on a image you are not working with a matte painting this is always a digital environment. this links in to:

unique pipeline>>>>>>>>traditional cg pipeline

matte painters will often use unique pipelines for their work. if you give a shot to 10 different matte painters they will have 10 different approaches from getting from A to Z. they will each use different methods for getting the final result from 2d paint, photography, 3d, 2.5d, model making etc. digital environments are often created in a fixed cg pipeline by groups of people. you will have modellers, texture artists, lighting artists, etc. this is why yusei making a shot of coruscant is in my eyes a matte painting (single artist using a unique pipeline) even though it is indistinguishable from the results produced by the cg department at ILM.

so for mary poppins it it moving to the right in the photoreal/non-photoreal stakes but still picks up enough points in the single artist/many artists area to move back into the realm of matte painting. for ratatouille you can argue that it matches mary poppins in the photoreal stakes (or even surpasses it) but i find that actually it would move too far to the right in the single artist/many artists area.

it seems that even the ves are getting annoyed by this whole what is a matte painting thing because of how many times they changed the rules over the years (so now we have the 'created environment' in there).

i think that about wraps this up for me so i'm going back to annoying the people in the c4d forum. thanks for the interesting discussions everyone.

cheers, simon w.

nickmarshallvfx
11-12-2008, 11:42 AM
Yep, i agree.
There will always be differences in where people draw the line. For me, i think that that particular ratatouille shot was created by one person as a matte (no definitive proof here, im just guessing) purely because it is a one off shot, wide angle, and some areas definitely look sketchy as opposed to it all being a 3d environment where you would expect the same level of detail / sharpness all over. And like you say, it probably does surpass mary Poppins in realism, so personally, that one fits into the matte painting category for me.

However, its only since ratatouille that ive been looking at animations differently, because up until then, id only really considered live action as having matte paintings. Ratatouille forced me to really take a step back and reassess where the line lies, and ive noticed a lot more that do the same since then.

I really dont think its a bad thing that everybody has a different place to draw the line, as long as peoples opinions are respected, and the real point is, nobody can say anyone is just plain 'wrong' because nobody can know for sure... No matte painting instruction manual has come out yet that tells us where it becomes something else ;)

It may come as a surprise that being so open about what matte painting is in films, i have quite a purist view when it comes into illustration...
Once i see moving elements in a still matte painting, it has crossed the line into illustration for me. Still fire, still birds, still people etc... Things you would never put in if it was going to be comped into a film.

Other people are very free about that and dont mind at all... I find it quite jarring. But the same point goes there, its all about an individual opinion.

If VES cant even categorise it firmly, what hope have the rest of us got! lol

Anyways, thats it for me too, must get back to work. Cheers all!

Nick

CodeNothing
11-12-2008, 06:07 PM
film>>>>>>>>>>>>non-film

is it used in a film? is it used in a non-film related area? films have matte paintings. book jackets don't. you can't show me an illustration and say it is a matte painting. what are the problems with this? where do games fit in here? is an environment in a game using matte painting techniques still a matte painting?


exactly. Films have mattes, book jackets do not. An illustration, or even photo realistic environment painting is not a matte untill it is being used for the purpose of expanding or enhancing an environment. A matte is there to "fool" you into thinking there is something there when there is not. The same goes for a video game. You look off into the distance, and if the matte was done well (like gears of war 2) you think to yourself: "How the hell are they rendering this MASSIVE environment in real time??" and the answer is, they are not. There are a bunch of 2D matte paintings that look like rendered geometry in the background. It is a cheap inexpensive way to enhance, and expand, the environment.

photorealistic>>>>>>>>>>>>non-photorealistic

you are still confusing the term 'matte painting' as being a deffinition of a THING, and not a USE for a thing.

The style of the matte must fit the style of the project. If your doing live action, real world movies, you need mattes that are photo realitic so that the matte convinces you the environment is real. Thats its purpose. If your doing a CG film (pixar) you need to do a matte that looks like a massive rendered CG pixar environment. Thats its purpose. If your making a matte for a video game, the matte needs to match the real-time style graphics of the rest of the game, without actually modeling it, or wasting valuble memory space rendering it. That's its purpose.

If you put a real human being walking around a pixar matte painting, it would instantly look awefull. Just as Having a pixar character walking in front of a photo real environment would instantly look out of place. But both are stille mattes, when used properly in there own project, because a photo real matte in a movie makes you think the environment is bigger or grander than it realy is, and the pixar matte makes you think they rendered and modeled the entire city of Paris when they did not. Both fool the viewer, for the sake of time, and money.

one artist>>>>>>>>>>>>many artists

generaly your right about the single artist theory, but thats more because of the 'nature' of a matte painting being something cheap and fast. Thats the entire POINT of a matte, is to not need a huge team of people to make the city of paris. to just have one guy PAINT the wide shot instead of a building of people modeling and rendering it. Mattes generaly take no more than a week for a single artist, so it doesnt make much sense for more than one artist to work on it. But, if 10 people had there hands on it before it make it into the film, it doesnt make it any less of a matte, because its still serving its purpose.

unique pipeline>>>>>>>>traditional cg pipeline

I agree there are many many different pipelines that will get you to a finished product. and matte painters are notorious for there unique problem solving abilities. One artist may sit down with a palette of acrylics and a lot of time on his hands, another sits down with Photoshop. Both are working for the same goal, and theres no 'wrong' way to make a matte.

That doesnt stop the deffinition of a matte being a 2D element, that fools you into thinking the environment is bigger, or grander, than it realy is, to save time and money.

and to be specific, as soon as something 'moves' it does not transmute out of the 'matte painting' catagory, only as soon as it becomes 3 dimensional. Plently of matte composites require, for example, the mountains in the distance to all be on different layers so that the camera can pan and it will FOOL you into thinking theres real mountains back there in 3D space. But theres not are there? no. they are 2D LAYERS that LOOK like mountains. This falls apart as soon as the camera rotates around it, or flies over it. Because its a matte, it can only fool you under certain conditions. If you want the camera to fly around and view things at multiple angles, you need to make a 3D model, or in the case of LOTR you need to make a 'Bigature' because there's no other way to do it! These are not MATTES! they are 3D or 'traditional' environment elements, that are filmed.

Obviously film makers try to avoid making models and massive CG environments because its EXPENSIVE. So when ever they can they try to make any 'wide' shot a still shot or at most a slight pan. That way a simple 2D image (a matte) can fool the viewer into thinking the environment is something its not. That they built the city, when they didnt, or they shot on location at an active volcano, when they didn't.

It would have been entirely possible to make the entire LOTR trilogy without making a single Bigature. But you would have had to change all the flying environment shots to still shots or pans, and the flying shots is what made that film stand out so much. This doesnt mean "CG is getting so good soon there will be no use for mattes" Because CG and model environments are freaking expensive, and film makers still want to use 2D matte elements as much as possible because its CHEAPER. This also does not mean "well CG films are now using new technolagy and are bluring the lines of what a matte is..." NO! Because a matte is still a 2D element used to fool you into thinking an environment is bigger or grander than it really is! No matter how you came to make that 2D element, its still being used for the same purpose!

I really don't understand the confusion behind this.

Ajenyon
11-19-2008, 01:02 PM
The boundaries must be changing, or this issue would have been done-and-dusted a long time ago. :argh:

I personally don't really see there is much confusion - any job advertised as a 'matte painter' position is one I'm capable of doing, so even if it's not a strictly accurate description, it conveys the correct information. Job done.

I think some of the laboring with the strict definition comes when a (usually) beginner posts a crappy photo-montage, with blurry paint strokes and a bunch of people badly composited on top, and calls it a 'matte painting'. Technically speaking, it probably IS a matte painting. It's just a really, really bad one. :surprised

On the topic of painting by hand - I think it's essential, I do it all the time, and if you can't paint by hand I think it's a bit like doing a job with one hand tied behind your back. Doesn't mean the job won't get done, or that it won't be any good, it's just that you've not got access to a very powerful tool, like never using a 3d package, or not having photoshop.

It IS all about saving time, and sometimes the quickest method is actually the paint something from scratch. Finding, manipulating and cutting out photos would take longer than busting out a size 4 chalk brush, so that's what you do.

I love some of the old mattes - up close they look like a bunch of rough, sketchy paint strokes. On film, they look photo-realistic. I think a lot of modern matte paintings are actually suffering from being scrutinised too closely - they are so finished, rendered and polished that they stop looking real, in a weird kind of way.

I'm not going to post any images in this thread, for fear of it looking too much like gratuitous self-promotion. But some of my mattes have been as much as 90% hand painted, just because that was (interestingly) quicker - check my site if you are interested.

AJ

sdinozzi
11-19-2008, 08:17 PM
Nice interview link you supplied Nick... never read it before. I think it contains great information on this subject matter.

Also I wanted to throw in that mattepainting has evolved. Yes it was considered background painting/set extensions but now I see alot of work involving FG/MG painting as well. For instance some guys at Eden FX are working on a feature my company is working on to and one shot shows a mattepainting involving painted grunge and weathered effects to a vehicle and road in the MG area but this is considered in our pipeline and theirs as a "matte painting."

SpetsK
12-01-2008, 08:54 AM
"Matte-painting" is a short term, explained above many times.
When there was only a black and white camera it was "matte-painting".
When the film got digital, "digital matte painting" was named. But oops!...suddenly we got new motion fields: video games, tv and other multimedia, so the "digital matte-painting" was extended to those categories as well. But woops-oops, at the same time, a lot of new techniques were explored and new software were produced, so the category extended even more! Because of the so wide area and so many techniques used "matte-painters" should be generally re-named "digital environment artists". But "matte-painting" is still more easy to spell. Maybe in the future we are all called DEA's :D

Hope my story made any point and my prophecy will come true :)

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