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Old 09-10-2013, 10:47 PM   #1
PaulHellard
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Meet the Artist :: Damien Mace



Damien Macé is a Digital Matte Painter whose work for the Film and TV Industry has spanned over a decade. He is widely known for his significant contributions to many blockbuster movies and major hit series such as Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and HBO's Game of Thrones. Having won a VES award and received an Emmy nomination for his establishing shots and key environment work for the hit series Game of Thrones, he is undeniably an accomplished and experienced member of the Matte Painting world. Damien is also one of the authors of Ballistic Publishing's new d'artiste title, Matte Painting 3 and is now here to answer your questions.

Please welcome professional matte painter Damien Mace.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:15 AM   #2
ngiassullo
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Nick Giassullo
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Great work Damien!

I was wondering, when it comes to creating an environment what kind of 3D software do you prefer using and why?

Also, what's your take on Vue Xstream, there's a lot of mix responses from other matte painters in using Vue in a pipeline, mostly due to render times. Do you feel that Vue could possibly take over environment work or even possibly photoshop in the future?

thanx for your time!
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:32 AM   #3
zethrix
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Jacek Pilarski
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Hello Damien,

Would you tell us about the experience of working on Avatar?
Have you worked with Dylan Cole?
What do you like more- working on TV series or blockbuster movies?
Would you describe your pipeline?

Thank you
Jacek
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:17 AM   #4
damienmace
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damien mace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngiassullo
Great work Damien!

I was wondering, when it comes to creating an environment what kind of 3D software do you prefer using and why?

Also, what's your take on Vue Xstream, there's a lot of mix responses from other matte painters in using Vue in a pipeline, mostly due to render times. Do you feel that Vue could possibly take over environment work or even possibly photoshop in the future?

thanx for your time!


Hi ngiassulo, thank you very much.

I have worked with Vue in the passed, but my experience is very limited to one or two shows. We used Vue to render a 'base' to work on top of it, it was never meant to be final.
I think Vue, can be a very helpful software, but I havent seen any render that could be use for final yet. I remember we used it on some mountain shots of Avatar, but quickly we moved from it and used pictures in high rez instead.

But in general, the pipeline I use is based on which company I work with and what kind of show I work on, but we can say that Maya is the most common software we use in film.

and to come back on Vue Xstream, it looks great, but I dont think it can replace a dmp artist at the moment. We ll see in few years.
 
Old 09-11-2013, 11:50 AM   #5
damienmace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zethrix
Hello Damien,

Would you tell us about the experience of working on Avatar?
Have you worked with Dylan Cole?
What do you like more- working on TV series or blockbuster movies?
Would you describe your pipeline?

Thank you
Jacek


Hi zethrix,

well that s a few question here :-)

Avatar was a great experience, I really like James Cameron's movie, especially Aliens, so when I heard about a new Scifi movie from Cameron coming our way, I started asking everyday my Head of Department to be part of the team. Eventually I got assigned on the show, and I got to look at the material. It was outstanding. We also got invited by the studio to watch their WIP in a private cinema. I was shocked how beautiful the environments were. It was my first stereo project back then.

As far as work goes I mainly worked on very distant background around the human base. toward the end we used dmp projection to add the last minutes extra details on building/ground.



Dylan Cole. I never met him, but I dont know of him :-) we never worked directly together.
I bought his children s book for my kids. I think he is a very talented artist and I hope we ll get to work together at some point in the future.



TV vs Film. For me, Film is why I joined the vfx industry. How cool can it be to have worked on Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc... The reality is that you dont get to work on that many cool film.

I used to prefer working on film, but since I got the opportunity to work on Game of Thrones, I am more open. GoT is such an amazing story, it is a dream project for any matte painter, you get to do all those really amazing wide scenery. If you haven t read the book, I highly recommend you do, it is even more outstanding than the TV serie.

Pipeline. As I said in the previous email, it depend of the facility or the project. I use a mixe of Photoshop, Maya and Nuke to get the work done. But you need to keep in mind that it is a team work. You might not be doing everything, sometimes it is an other department that provide the assets, sometimes you even got a textured render to work on top of it. In Matte Painting 3, David and Milan are covering various situations we can meet.
 
Old 09-11-2013, 12:40 PM   #6
DarkRay
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Waqas Ahmed
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Hello Damien,

Well, Would you please tell us your background, that from where you got the inspirations to get in this position. Your early age of CG etc

Thank you
 
Old 09-11-2013, 02:10 PM   #7
damienmace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRay
Hello Damien,

Well, Would you please tell us your background, that from where you got the inspirations to get in this position. Your early age of CG etc

Thank you


Hello DarkRay,

Funnily enough my initial diplome is in Food Industry. I do not know how it is calle din English, as I did my studies in France. But I was meant to have a career in developing food factories layout and process. I know not very matte painting.That wasnt for me.

I wasnt a very good student, I spent more time drawing, playing role playing games and board games than learning my maths.... but I always had high grades in Art, so I gave it a try. My dad told me: 'get you 'A level' then you can join the Art School', which I did.

So at the age of 19 years old I enter a traditional Art School, Ecole Superieure d Art Graphique Pivaut in Nantes. When I say traditional, I mean that we learned anatomy, perspective, drawing classic letters, colors, osteology, sculpture, composition. It wasnt about expressing ourself it was about getting the basic of Art and construction.

I met the most amazing artists over there, my teachers and my best friend. Those guys were confirm artist and passionate about their work. I still have very good contact with them.

At that time I wanted to be a Character Designer for disney. I even started to work for SIP animation in Paris on Inspector Gadget and the Gadgetinies. But Disney France closed.... so I had to change my plans and after finishing my classical Art training I joined the EMCI in Angouleme, where I learned the basic of 3D on 3Dstudiomax for few months.

Toward the end of the same year I got hired at BUF company in Paris. They previously worked on Matrix and other big american movies. At the time it was the only big French company who worked on big features. I stayed there few years and moved to London, where I still live now with my partner and our two amazing children :-)
 
Old 09-11-2013, 02:30 PM   #8
Narntson
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Noah Arntson
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Hi Damien,

Do you often think about the type of lenses used from live action shots to be integrated in your work? In other words, do you consider the depth of field in your work to be seemless or not for dramatic impact?

Thanks,

Noah
 
Old 09-11-2013, 02:34 PM   #9
damienmace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Narntson
Hi Damien,

Do you often think about the type of lenses used from live action shots to be integrated in your work? In other words, do you consider the depth of field in your work to be seemless or not for dramatic impact?

Thanks,

Noah


Hi Noah,

We usually work undistorted. The shot is redistorted at the compostiting level. and yes, lenses are always a very important consideration.

Last edited by damienmace : 09-11-2013 at 02:40 PM.
 
Old 09-12-2013, 01:07 AM   #10
PaulHellard
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Hi Damien,

I know you aren't able to show us very much, due to the licensing limits from HBO, but perhaps you can write here about working on some of the signature mattes on 'Game of Thrones'. I've been watching and am in awe of a great many mattes seen in the series.
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Old 09-12-2013, 09:24 AM   #11
DarkRay
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Waqas Ahmed
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Finally one last question from me: What walks you through the process of creating a matte painting?

Thank you so much. This is so amazing to learn that there is nothing to go without passion. The whole process is become an feature film on you. haha I mean its very interesting for us. because mostly people are so frustrated about their career or passion in the life.
Again, I'm very grateful to you

Takecare

God bless your family
 
Old 09-12-2013, 10:16 AM   #12
damienmace
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damien mace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulHellard
Hi Damien,

I know you aren't able to show us very much, due to the licensing limits from HBO, but perhaps you can write here about working on some of the signature mattes on 'Game of Thrones'. I've been watching and am in awe of a great many mattes seen in the series.


Hi Paul,

thank you very much. Yes, you are right, it was not possible to show you work done on Game of Thrones due to IP restrictions. However, I have few examples on my personal webpage/blog ( damienmace.blogspot.co.uk )where I show some of the work I have done on GoT but also on other movies.

The most iconic matte painting I got to work on is without a doubt the Wall. The brief was 'a 700 feet high wall of Ice. at its base, castle black'. I mean it cannot be much better than this for a matte painter.

I also worked on the establishing views of the Red Keep in Kings Landing in season 1, the Eyrie and Astapor.

All of those were the main establishers I got to work on, but there is more 'smaller' dmp that I really like such as the one when Tyrion is pissing from the top of the Wall, or the day time view from the top of the Wall when you see the bottom of the North side for the first time.

I was a big fan of the Book before starting working on the serie. George R R Martin is an amazing writer, I strongly recommend you read his books. This is where I got my inspiration from. I always referred to it for details, it really help the process of creating those environments.
 
Old 09-12-2013, 10:27 AM   #13
damienmace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRay
Finally one last question from me: What walks you through the process of creating a matte painting?

Thank you so much. This is so amazing to learn that there is nothing to go without passion. The whole process is become an feature film on you. haha I mean its very interesting for us. because mostly people are so frustrated about their career or passion in the life.
Again, I'm very grateful to you

Takecare

God bless your family



Hi DarkRay,

I am not sure I understand the question, but I ll give it a try.

-Usually, it start with a brief and a concept from the studios. Sometimes, it is just a brief, and you have to provide the concept work and research.

-Once you have an approval on a sketch, you start the matte painting work.
if the dmp is a projected dmp, which means that you are projecting you images on a 3D geometry to simulate parallax usually, you will need an approved tracked camera, a approved geometry or anything that will work for the projection.

-then you do the dmp work. I like to start with the sky, as it will give you a lot of informations about the mood, ligth direction, and intensity of light. then I work my way toward the camera, trying to keep things in group layer for foreground, midground, background, etc...)

-project and pre comp or comp.

Was it your question?
 
Old 09-12-2013, 07:24 PM   #14
DarkRay
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Hey Damien,

Yeah you got me straight. Its really great that a Matte Painter actually do all the things like models, texture, lighting and renders. What you think about The Foundry’s MARI?? what software do you use most, to done your work real great??

I've often wondered why Adobe has never come out with a really good stand alone 3D paint package. What you think??
 
Old 09-14-2013, 04:54 PM   #15
damienmace
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damien mace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRay
Hey Damien,

Yeah you got me straight. Its really great that a Matte Painter actually do all the things like models, texture, lighting and renders. What you think about The Foundry’s MARI?? what software do you use most, to done your work real great??

I've often wondered why Adobe has never come out with a really good stand alone 3D paint package. What you think??



MARI is a great software, I used it on Snow White for the Queen's Castle and the near buy village.
It can be a very powerful tool, way faster than photoshop for texturing and saving multiple images.

I used it for texturing, not for dmp.

ADOBE.... well I dont know. I hope that they will make an update to bring the software to a more friendly use for CGI pipeline.
 
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