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Old 09 September 2013   #16
Hi Milan,

Nice to see you here and hope you're fine!

I would like to ask you about how far we can go with cheating in matte-painting?
We all know that one of the main goal for each dmp is photoreal, but sometimes while working on some of them we can see that if we add something that probably would not be in real world situation it can make the picture looks better. I mean for example some highlights from the sun on objects or might some interesting shadows and so forth. Of course as long if it still fits with general mood of shot\matte-painting, but if it brings some more visual interest.

For instance before going to Canada I had this kind of project. There were a few shots with sunsets and the sun was quite low there but I felt if I add some highlights on mountains and castle it can help lead eyes of the viewer and just make a whole picture looks better. So finally it still was sunset with correct color palette and values but some parts with lighting were slightly cheated in order to get more benefits of that.

So and my question is how far we can go with this sort of cheating?

Thanks in advance!

p.s. sorry for some mistakes, a bit in a rush here now...
__________________
Igor Staritsin
Senior Matte-Painter | Concept Designer
www.igorstaritsin.com
 
Old 09 September 2013   #17
Getting the job done

Welcome to Canada, Igor.

I've noticed that you like to push the borders of reality within your Matte Painting work exactly the way you described here.

Especially now, being part of a major VFX studio's DMP department, you should use these visual tools with extreme caution because AAA feature film is less forgiving.
It is acceptable to play with pools of light to help lead the viewers eyes but be cautious not to break your lighting. Our main reference is photography, not traditional painting.
The human brain notices immediately when something is wrong and even the humblest, most dedicated movie audience will be able to tell that it's off.
To pinpoint down what is wrong takes more delicate observational skills. However, if the lighting doesn't make sense it ruins your shot by making your matte too illustrative.

If I ran into a similar type of issue where a large sun hit on some rocks was implausible
and I couldn't find a way to implement a break through an opposing structure to motivate the lighting eg., I'd opt to get rid of it all together, and find a different way to tell the story within the image. Any form of practical art is information transport and most of the time less is more.

The great thing about working in movies is that most of the time we get practical plates to base our work on. I personally prefer working within certain boundaries, such as a given lighting scenario I'd have to respect, and then as an artist try to explore those limitations. It's rather shot dependent but I believe your question is at the core of being a Matte Painter. Judging what a shot requires and how little is enough is partly what makes a good Matte Painter.
Generally, avoid making any of your work too stylized and always strive to keep it as realistic as possible.

You are on the right track and having so many talented DMPs around you will certainly impact your learning curve!

All the best to you.
Milan


Originally Posted by shamanik: Hi Milan,

Nice to see you here and hope you're fine!

I would like to ask you about how far we can go with cheating in matte-painting?
We all know that one of the main goal for each dmp is photoreal, but sometimes while working on some of them we can see that if we add something that probably would not be in real world situation it can make the picture looks better. I mean for example some highlights from the sun on objects or might some interesting shadows and so forth. Of course as long if it still fits with general mood of shot\matte-painting, but if it brings some more visual interest.

For instance before going to Canada I had this kind of project. There were a few shots with sunsets and the sun was quite low there but I felt if I add some highlights on mountains and castle it can help lead eyes of the viewer and just make a whole picture looks better. So finally it still was sunset with correct color palette and values but some parts with lighting were slightly cheated in order to get more benefits of that.

So and my question is how far we can go with this sort of cheating?

Thanks in advance!

p.s. sorry for some mistakes, a bit in a rush here now...
__________________
I'm making a movie!!
 
Old 09 September 2013   #18
Hi Milan.

I would like to ask for a film matte what is the usual turnaround time? Also if you finish the overall matte painting before a deadline do you continue to refine it or you proceed on some other task?

If you have time I have a slight off-topic question. You've moved from London to Toronto. Was the process of moving easy/hard, what was your experience?

Thanks
Ivan
__________________
www.ikrushkov.com
 
Old 09 September 2013   #19
Thanks you Milan for great answer (as always) and good wishes! Appreciate that!
Yeah actually getting into pipeline in a major company it's not the same as in a smaller ones. But it's a nice and great experience!

Thanks again for your answer, you definitely right, and will keep in the mind some of your ideas.

Take care!

All the best!
__________________
Igor Staritsin
Senior Matte-Painter | Concept Designer
www.igorstaritsin.com
 
Old 09 September 2013   #20
http://challenge.cgsociety.org/kreola

Those are two very good questions, Ivan.

The bid time for a Matte Painting depends on the complexity of the shot.
Usually, the Matte Painter advises production how long a particular task should take. Working in a professional realm you have to be able to estimate a quote of how long something will take you.

http://challenge.cgsociety.org/kreola

I have written a brief for the
CG Talk Matte Painting challenge and provided a rough background draft to understand the mood of the shot. I would expect to see a first concept after 12-14h.
You would then receive notes and the turnaround for each set of feedback would be around 8h, which is one day of work. The number of rounds will depend on your supervisor's vision, as well as your proficiency.
On this CG Talk project, I would advise not diving into the final Matte Painting stage without at least 3 revisions. When working for a client I recommend trying to keep a visual balance
so that if you're asked to show a work in progress everything is at the same level. Try not to waste too much time polishing individual areas until everything is in place and well balanced.
The photo-realistic Matte Painting will take, depending on your technical and artistic skills, between 2 to 4 days (16-32h). The more frequently you present WIP during this process, the less time you will waste exploring wrong avenues.

Finally, depending on the schedule and how much time there's left in your original bid, there will be
another few rounds of notes with a 4-8h interval, of course depending on the nature of the notes, until your Matte Painting looks amazing or production runs out of time.

Ultimately, the client has to be happy with your product, and if they love it after the first client review session, you'll either get
another 3-6h to clean it up and add some final tweaks or you simply move on to the next shot. In the case of the
CG Talk Matte Painting challenge, Michael, Jaime, David, Damien and I are your creative leads, supervisors and clients.
To create a successful styleframe that will live up to the expectations it will take a DMP anywhere between 32-80h of serious work.

When I'm mentoring a Matte Painting apprentice or Junior Matte Painter, these are the expectations I'd have but I'll usually alter these guidelines based on individual levels of experience or knowledge/abilities.

It is also important to mention that within a studio environment it is important not to get attached to shots personally. You might have been working on a DMP for 2 weeks and by the time the client review notes come in you could be assigned to another big shot that requires all your attention. In that case another DMP Artist would pick up your work and address the notes. This can be quite nice, as the painting will receive a fresh pair of eyes and the next person working on it will bring a piece of their own vision to the image. This also means your working files have to be extremely clean and easily understandable by others.
In other cases due to various reasons the time frame might be so tight that one shot has to be divided into sub-tasks and areas, where multiple painters are working on one matte simultaneously in order to get the job done on time.

I hope this answers your first question in enough detail.



As for moving back to Canada, it depends on your preferences. Some VFX artists
move around the world, trying to be involved with the projects they personally prefer to be working on. Others are more loyal to
specific studios due to unique working conditions.
My wife and I realized London was not the best place for raising children and wanted to re-locate to somewhere we would feel comfortable enough to start a family.
We've done a fair amount of moving as well and so far Toronto has been our favourite place we ever lived in.
Mr. X helped us settle in and it has been a great experience being here since the first day we arrived.

Traveling can become a large part of your life if you're in the movie industry, so I recommend anyone to embrace the possibilities that come with working in
film, until you get too sick of living out of a suitcase and need to halt for a while.

Let me know if you have any further questions.
Milan

Originally Posted by Pipera: Hi Milan.

I would like to ask for a film matte what is the usual turnaround time? Also if you finish the overall matte painting before a deadline do you continue to refine it or you proceed on some other task?

If you have time I have a slight off-topic question. You've moved from London to Toronto. Was the process of moving easy/hard, what was your experience?

Thanks
Ivan
__________________
I'm making a movie!!
 
Old 09 September 2013   #21
Hi Milan,
Thanks very much for the detailed reply and checking out my portfolio.

You're right. The space ship crash shot was definitely my hardest challenge to date.
For challenges of trees, landscapes, or modern building there is always additional reference hunting that can be done if I can't find the right look.
The crashed space ship was a lot of guess work .... the initial 3D pass I was given was very low-poly and pre-vis level... although it did give me my initial lighting and proportions (which was helpful)
I painted over most of it completely and by then the composition had changed significantly. The 3D for the shot was re-done after I completed the 2D matte painting.... so it didn't really become an environment shot until the end.
I used reference from the set itself for the foreground rocks, waterfall reference for most of the chasm.... the deepest area was painted and pieced together by using earlier shots from the movie.
I had to figure out what many of the props and set would look like from an aerial point of view rather than eye level.
It was primarily a 2D painting however. It is also a little hard to believe that my hardest matte painting to date was a lock-off and not any of my projected shots.

I'm extremely impressed with your fully cg shots!
I've worked on some smaller cg shots, but nothing as epic as the New York paintings you posted.

You should be really proud

Thanks again for answering my question with images.


Originally Posted by milanschere:
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
 
Old 09 September 2013   #22
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