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Old 09-03-2013, 12:19 AM   #1
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Meet the Artist :: Milan Schere



Hey there,

Please welcome our latest Meet the Artist candidate, senior matte painter and conceptual artist Milan Schere.

Graduating with a master's degree in digital effects from Bournemouth University, Milan Schere has worked on a variety of projects ranging from architectural visualization to music videos. The first real step up in his professional career was the opportunity to work on the trailer of Sony's 'MotorStorm: Pacific Rift'.


After working on a few BBC and National Geographic documentaries for broadcast television, he became heavily involved with the 'Dredd' pitch at Prime Focus in London. In 2010 Schere decided to join the talented visual effects team at Mr. X Inc. in Toronto, when being offered the chance to work on 'Tron: Legacy'. As a technically oriented 3D matte painter, Schere utilizes a mixture of techniques and software in his process, always trying to improve his workflow and the efficiency of the matte painting pipeline.




His more recent filmography includes such movies as 'Robocop', 'Pompeii', 'Mama', 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn' and 'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones'. In addition to his feature film work, he is also known to fans of the television series 'Vikings' for the numerous digital backdrops he created. 'Vikings' is the History Channel's first scripted docudrama and is currently nominated for an Emmy award in the category 'Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role'.

Milan Schere will be available to answer your questions and chat about his career in this unique setting over the course of a month. Post your questions and allow some time for answers. Please welcome Milan Schere.
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Last edited by PaulHellard : 09-07-2013 at 06:13 AM.
 
Old 09-03-2013, 09:45 AM   #2
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Jacek Pilarski
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Hello Milan,

Would you tell us about your 3D matte painting pipeline? 3D software knowledge is becoming a standard and I often hear questions from artists what to chose - Maya or Max. Recently Modo is quite popular for modeling (and Zbrush).
I asked David Luong "What type of matte paintings every matte painter should have in it's portfolio? Should it be sci-fi stuff, mountains/landscapes, sky shots, cityscapes etc.? I found that this is the common problem for many artists"
What is your thoughts about it?

Do you use Vue?

Cheers!
Jacek
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:03 PM   #3
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Hello Milan, and thanks for taking time out to answer a few questions,

I will stay away from software and pipelines,

would like to know if you could travel back in time, which Matte Painter and Era would like to go to, would you go glass or digital, and if so which matte painting got you hooked into the business?

thank you very much,

Richie
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:09 PM   #4
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Milan Schere
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3D Matte Painting

Dear Jacek,
Unfortunately, there’s no formula for breaking into the industry. As with most things in life, I believe persistence is the most important attribute. The more you practice a skill, the better you will eventually get at it. I recommend developing a professional demeanour by working on projects together with other people, rather than to lock yourself up at home by yourself. Even an unpaid opportunity will help you gather a certain level of experience. Matte Painting is a very specialized art form and in the end the tools you use do not really matter. It is much more important to develop certain artistic skills like “seeing light” rather than knowing which buttons to press. I recommend not rushing through your education, but rather, building a strong foundation by doing a BA in Fine Arts and an MA in Visual Effects in order to obtain a full understanding of all requirements.
Over the years my tool set has changed a little as you adapt to what is available to you and what new techniques you pick up. Right now, I use Photoshop, Maya, Mari and Nuke but tools really don’t matter because ultimately a Matte Painter must train his eyes for realism and a sense of lighting. Most of my shots are based on filmed footage or 3D renders. I get almost no locked-off shots assigned to my task list these days. It is important to familiarize yourself with the plate or pre-viz and all the surrounding shots within the sequence before you start. Until recently, I used to solve all large scale environment shots with multiple projection set-ups and layered shaders but since Mari came along and Nuke has been getting more powerful with each new version, I’ve been implementing these softwares far more significantly into my Matte Painting workflow. The techniques themselves are very simple. I still do the majority of my work in Photoshop. It is important to judge, depending on the necessities of the shot, what approach would be most efficient within the given timeframe. On that note, it is also very important to understand that Nuke projections are often more than sufficient and you do not have to run everything through a full 3D package, such as Maya. I like Maya and it is my primary 3D application. It was absolutely essential to me especially when I was using Shake, before witching to Nuke, but I find myself more and more in situations where using Maya for one of my Matte Painting shots is simply overkill.
Ballistic Publishing's book "d'artiste: Matte Painting 3" (2013) will include 6 of my written tutorials, as well as additional video walk-throughs in which I will be sharing my Matte Painting process from creating a shot all the way through to the final imagery. In these tutorials I'll demonstrate many techniques which I utilize to design successful Matte Paintings. This includes getting an idea out of your head onto paper or screen, working out composition, integrating photographic elements, colour matching and much more. You’ll learn how to create depth perception and mood through atmospheric lighting effects in your Matte Paintings, as well as technical explanations of how to hand of your work down the pipeline. I tried to include a full range of Matte Painting scenarios to help people interested in the art form with their digital environment creation process.
As for your demo reel, honestly you don't need one. What a potential supervisor needs to see is how you can fit into the Matte Painting department. If you demonstrate the proper skills, two before/after comparisons attached as JPEG files to your email will be sufficient to obtain an interview. The subject matter in my opinion should not be science fiction nor fantasy related but real life set extension based work because that is the majority of what professional Matte Paintings consist of.



I personally don't think you obtaining your first Matte Painting job will depend on the softwares you use. I've heard really good things about Modo and it might be the most popular 3D application in 5 years from now, but I have personally not tried it yet and utilize Maya at the moment. I've dabbed into ZBrush and Mudbox but it is really not necessary to familiarize yourself with these from a Matte Painting point of view. On "The Three Musketeers" I've created some of the clouds with Vue Metaballs but it takes a lot of fiddling to get a good result with acceptable render times out of that package and I don't always have the luxury to experiment in such a time consuming way. There's an article by The Foundry about how Mari can fit into a Matte Painting pipeline that you might be interested in checking out: http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/article...il-retribution/
However, it really depends on your circumstances. As a junior at a larger studio they would take the time to train you, while working freelance mostly means they'll get you any license you prefer when you're on a specific project. Generally, you should display an artistic proficiency first and then worry about the technicalities.
One amazing benefit you can take advantage of today is the DMP forum here on CG Talk as many of the members are professionals, and some newer participants just landed very promising jobs at respectable visual effects companies. Networking can be an important part of getting your foot in the door.

Hope this helps.

Kind Regards,
Milan



Quote:
Originally Posted by zethrix
Hello Milan,

Would you tell us about your 3D matte painting pipeline? 3D software knowledge is becoming a standard and I often hear questions from artists what to chose - Maya or Max. Recently Modo is quite popular for modeling (and Zbrush).
I asked David Luong "What type of matte paintings every matte painter should have in it's portfolio? Should it be sci-fi stuff, mountains/landscapes, sky shots, cityscapes etc.? I found that this is the common problem for many artists"
What is your thoughts about it?

Do you use Vue?

Cheers!
Jacek
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:12 PM   #5
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Jacek Pilarski
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Hello Milan,

Thank you for your answer. Can't wait for this new D'artiste

Best,
Jacek
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:46 PM   #6
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Milan Schere
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Time machine

Dear Richard,
Growing up with a passion for drawing and painting, visual arts has always been the main path I followed. One of my first film inspirations occurred after having watched the Indiana Jones movies at a young age. I became increasingly fascinated with the worlds in movies. Once I found out that almost all my favourite movie shots were not only hand painted but most of them created by the same person, I became a huge Michael Pangrazio fan. I even learned airbrushing because of a story I heard about how he got into the industry. I still have “Glim the Glorious” and the “Art of Star Wars” books on my bookshelf today. He is amazing and his "Raiders of the Lost Ark" warehouse set-extension is probably the most famous Matte Painting in history. That is what inspired me to become a Matte Painter.

Outside of the office, I try to stay away from computers and would enjoy being a traditional Matte Painter, I believe. I’m a real traditional Matte Painting enthusiast. I own publications on the subject matter, such as “Ellenshaw Under Glass” and “The Invisible Art”, and often get lost flipping through them.
http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/...ainting-section
The only existing traditional Matte Painting forum is currently being archived, in case you're interested in that type of Matte Painting work.
As part of the upcoming book publication, I co-authored together with Damien Mace and David Luong, we were given the opportunity to conduct a Skype conversation with Mike Pangrazio, who also wrote the stupendous foreword for the book. It was an honour, since all three of us agreed to Mike being the greatest Matte Painting influence in our lives. The interview will also be included in the book for everyone to enjoy, and will hopefully inspire many more Matte painters out there.
One thing I miss about living in London is the National Gallery. I used to spend hours staring at romantic paintings on the weekends, trying to understand the magnificent way those artists painted with light. So, if I really had to pick an era to go back to it would be the time of Joseph Mallord William Turner. Matte Painting today is what Romanticism was in 1836 or Renaissance art in 1498. It is the most significant art form of our age and without access to a time machine I'm quite happy being a Matte Painter these days.

I hope this answers your question and I'm confident you will like the book and all of its content based on your visible interest for the art form.

Kind Regards,
Milan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockhoppermedia
Hello Milan, and thanks for taking time out to answer a few questions, I will stay away from software and pipelines, would like to know if you could travel back in time, which Matte Painter and Era would like to go to, would you go glass or digital, and if so which matte painting got you hooked into the business?

thank you very much,
Richie
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I'm making a movie!!
 
Old 09-04-2013, 07:38 PM   #7
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Thank you Milan for taking the time out to answer my questions, nice to know some else who loses themselves in traditional oil paintings,

Richie
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:39 PM   #8
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old ways

Here is a short video on the old ways of doing matte painting.
Pretty fascinating!

https://vimeo.com/10563431
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Last edited by cesarmontero : 09-06-2013 at 06:07 PM. Reason: (edited out, information was inaccurate)
 
Old 09-05-2013, 10:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zethrix
Hello Milan,

Would you tell us about your 3D matte painting pipeline? 3D software knowledge is becoming a standard and I often hear questions from artists what to chose - Maya or Max. Recently Modo is quite popular for modeling (and Zbrush).
I asked David Luong "What type of matte paintings every matte painter should have in it's portfolio? Should it be sci-fi stuff, mountains/landscapes, sky shots, cityscapes etc.? I found that this is the common problem for many artists"
What is your thoughts about it?

Do you use Vue?

Cheers!
Jacek


What a matte painter uses today, will be different tomorrow. Focus on creating beautiful images under a tight budget. That will always work in my opinion. Do themes that you love, cause you might find yourself doing that topic for the rest of your life, if you're hired for it.
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:42 AM   #10
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Hi Milan,

Can you talk a little bit about working with the option of different lighting effects in your mattes please? When you generate a piece with the suggested elements, dust, and colors sorted out, is it your general rule to make available many different iterations of the same scene showing different light directions and other tweaks, or is this overkill, do you feel?

Can too much choice for the art director be a hindrance?
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Old 09-06-2013, 01:21 PM   #11
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Cesar Alejandro Montero Orozco

Dear Cesar Alejandro Montero Orozco,
Thank you for all your personal input and your question regarding Michael Pangrazio.
Being one of the most significant Matte Paintings in film making history, we were naturally eager to discuss this shot with Michael during our conversation, which will be available as part of "D'artiste Matte Painting 3" soon. He was actually so kind as to go into such detail like how long it took him to paint this magnificent image and much more.
I'm certain you will find it entertaining and educational once it is finally available for purchase. Make sure you sign up for the pre-sale notification at: http://www.ballisticpublishing.com/...tte_painting_3/

Thank you again.
Kind Regards,
Milan

Quote:
Originally Posted by cesarmontero
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Last edited by milanschere : 09-06-2013 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Technical correction
 
Old 09-06-2013, 06:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milanschere
Dear Cesar Alejandro Montero Orozco,
Thank you for all your personal input and your question regarding Michael Pangrazio.
Being one of the most significant Matte Paintings in film making history, we were naturally eager to discuss this shot with Michael during our conversation, which will be available as part of "D'artiste Matte Painting 3" soon. He was actually so kind as to go into such detail like how long it took him to paint this magnificent image and much more.
I'm certain you will find it entertaining and educational once it is finally available for purchase. Make sure you sign up for the pre-sale notification at: http://www.ballisticpublishing.com/...tte_painting_3/

Thank you again.
Kind Regards,
Milan


Thanks for the headsup!
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:23 AM   #13
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Hi Milan,
I was wondering what the greatest matte painting challenge you have faced is? (specifically not camera projection-related).... but what was the most difficult piece of reality you have ever needed to fabricate?

Thanks for taking a look at my question,

Ken
 
Old 09-09-2013, 05:42 PM   #14
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Re: different lighting effects in your mattes

Dear Paul,
That's a really great question, and the answer can vary between different VFX studios, as some larger houses employ concept artists just for this. However, the conceptualization that we do is very different from pre-production concept work.
Depending on the production, the duties of a DMP go beyond painting digital backdrops and we have the chance to get more involved with the art direction. As such we sometimes find ourselves creating production design Styleframes. A Styleframe is like a Bierstadt or Constable painting. It captures a moment. They are production art pieces visualizing the essence of a shot or an entire sequence. It's primary purpose is visual communication between artists and clients/supervisors or the different areas of production.
Although Styleframes have to be of a photo-real Matte Painting quality, they often go beyond the purpose of a Matte Painting and include a still of a moving element such as a character, or ship etc.
Typically, we do work within a set lighting scenario though, and receive rather detailed instructions, because each shot has to match continuity with the surrounding ones in the movie. Sometimes on a one-of stand-alone, or when you're working on the first look of an entire sequence, you can suggest an alternate take within the same limitations but it is not advisable to create more versions than that since it would be a time consuming luxury to be shopping for ideas in such an expansive way. Efficiency is at the core of visual effects and one way to keep a progressive workflow is by assigning leads who keep a visual overview of certain aspects. You can then narrow down your options and ideas with the help of your sequence lead before presenting it to the supervisor, and so on.
However, it happens ever so often that a scene gets changed and the time of day in some shots has to be altered. While traditional Matte Painters had to start over or painstakingly relight their painting in such a case, the benefit of the digital age allows us to keep our work flexible and make changes fairly easily. The most likely scenario to having multiple versions of a shot is when a day-to-night conversion is required, or if a setting is featured multiple times with different lighting setups.

I hope this shines some light onto the creative process and responsibilities of a Matte Painter within a studio environment on feature films.

Kind Regards,
Milan


Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulHellard
Hi Milan,

Can you talk a little bit about working with the option of different lighting effects in your mattes please? When you generate a piece with the suggested elements, dust, and colors sorted out, is it your general rule to make available many different iterations of the same scene showing different light directions and other tweaks, or is this overkill, do you feel?

Can too much choice for the art director be a hindrance?
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:01 PM   #15
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Ken McCuen

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your question.

Any successful visual effect must be invisible. Especially Matte Paintings must appear real to be believable. Throughout my career I have found 3D paint-overs to be the most challenging Matte Painting work. A full CG shot without live action elements often lacks the necessary connection to the world our eyes are used to. It is the Matte Painters job to re-establish that link for the audience. Everything from cracks in a piece of concrete, stains on the ground or random objects like mail boxes, all the way to little pools of light placed by nature itself. Plate photography work gives you the necessary cues to all these but CG has none of it, as it is perfect, lacking the imperfection our brains are used to. Being a 3D Matte Painter is something like a combination of a Digital Matte Painting Artist and an Environment TD. I love the painting part but I like to handle my shots all the way to pre-comp where possible.
 Earlier in my career I used to even take some of my shots all the way to final, including all the compositing work, sometimes.



This New York Times Square shot from Paul W. S. Anderson's "Resident Evil: Retribution" movie is a personal milestone in my digital environment creation process because it successfully makes use of the Foundry's texturing tool Mari. I’ve been using Mari since my work on Paul W. S. Anderson's “The Three Musketeers” and took the time on “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” to figure out some of it’s technicalities, establishing a basic workflow. By the time I was setting up this shot on “Resident Evil: Retribution” my objective was to efficiently implement Mari into my Matte Painting workflow. I have been using this approach successfully on set extensions with implemented live action footage, but this was the first time for me on a full CG shot.

All the hard work really paid off in the end, as I was able to recycle parts of it in my next shot.



Looking at your professional portfolio, I believe it is somewhat similar to the Matte Painting work you have created on the movie "After Earth" with all those 3D paint-overs.
http://www.kenmccuen.com/matte_pain..._portfolio2.htm

Was it the same type of challenge for you with the 3D base or what has your personal experience been with full CG shots? I can imagine it being a tricky situation, especially with the main focus of the painting being an otherworldly spaceship for which no direct reference exists.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Kind Regards,
Milan

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenmccuen
Hi Milan,
I was wondering what the greatest matte painting challenge you have faced is? (specifically not camera projection-related).... but what was the most difficult piece of reality you have ever needed to fabricate?

Thanks for taking a look at my question,

Ken
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