lol, yup, i’ve definitely experienced all aspects of what you described and agree completely.
From my experience working on larger projects, they typically want to see a strong 3d artist/TD that has “matte painting” skills, to drive the look and aesthetics from concept to comp delivery, and if they can slap comp, then great!
I’ve found over the last 5 or so years that a lot of people thought that because I was addressing myself as a matte painter, that I only did 2d photo bashing. I’ve literally had clients, employers etc, surprised to hear that I have 3d skills. So it came to a point where I began to address myself as a 3d matte painter, this seemed to make more sense to a lot of clients.
I think it really depends on the project; large scale projects will usually require Maya, zbrush, PS, Nuke workflow. But I still take a lot of commercial/TV work that want straight up matte paintings. In the end, they want the most bang for the least buck
It comes down to wanting an artist that can provide the most amount of skills, at the quickest possible turn around, at the highest quality, limitation free, for the least amount of cost. Where does that lead us?
I think the future will definitely go in a procedural direction, where the tech will be mostly invisible and we’ll end up being digital photographers, dressing the environment around a camera, that said, will there even be a fixed camera in the future? likely not. We’re already seeing procedural workflows now with Substance designer/painter and various other content creation platforms, the games industry is very procedural with respects to environments, at some point these will merge with film/TV. I guess there will always be a need to create bespoke/unique assets. And there will always be a need to develop the concept of the environments, drive an understanding of what makes a person get excited over a composition of light.