View Full Version : What Resolution to use

Digital Backlot
10-24-2004, 07:23 PM
I want pixel numbers for what film qaulity mattes are painted at.

any help would be good. thanks


Digital Backlot
10-24-2004, 09:19 PM
12 views and no replies? I didn't think it was that hard a question.

buller? Buller?....

10-25-2004, 12:10 AM
Hi Joel,

At the How Stuff Works site at:


This is what Marshall Brain wrote in his article "How Centropolis FX Creates Visual Effects"

"For example, in "The Patriot," 150 of the shots in the film required visual effects. The rolls of film for these shots are sent to CFX to be scanned. CFX uses a Kodak Cineon scanner capable of up to 4,096 dots of resolution (4,096 X 3,112 dots per frame). "The Patriot" was scanned at 2K resolution (2,048 x 1,556 dots per frame), and the 150 shots and all of the intermediate files consumed about 1.6 terabytes of disk space."


I believe feature films were originally being scanned at 3000 lines in the beginning, but the 2048 line resolution is now the norm.

I know some of the members have more info on this.

Upon reflection, there may be some confusion about what you are asking. (Or maybe it is just me being confused?) :^0

For example, I believe a film quality straight lock off might be 2048 x 1556, but if you have to push in with a virtual camera move then the painting would have to be at a much larger resolution (or image size in Photo Shop) If you started with the same image size as the movie frame, then pushed in, you would get a break up or deterioration of the image.

Does this help any?


10-25-2004, 12:39 AM
From what I've seen, 2k seems to be the bottom limit for feature work.
Although every place I've worked has it's own particular number, and
different numbers for different shows at that!
For instance, at ILM, Vistavision plates were scanned at 1728x1050, 4 perf
anamorphic (squeezed) and Super35 was scanned at 2020x1228. At The
Orphanage on "The Day After Tomorrow", we worked in Cineon format
(a FIRST for me, using Photshop CS in 16 bit) and the plates were all
Quite often, I like to work at higher res, usually twice the normal res.
Then I size the matte painting back down for compositing.

10-25-2004, 12:39 AM
Hi Joel,

Upon further research, In Ron Brinkmann's book "The Art and Science of Digital Compositing" (ISBN 0121339602) full aperature film is 4096 pixels Horizontal resolution and 3112 vertical for Cineon scanner files.

The Patriot scans were at "half resolutions" which I think is the practice now. I believe film is typically scanned at the half rez, manipulated and then "up rezed" to 4k when the image goes back to negative.

(Other members, please correct if this is in error.)


10-25-2004, 12:42 AM
Joel and Rick,

I have also heard that other matte artists often work double size to the final film resolution.


10-25-2004, 01:24 AM
I too prefer to paint my matte shots at approximatly double the output size. I find that this helps to hide brush strokes and make the final shot look more realistic. The sizes I've grown accustomed to are similiar to those stated by others, but here's the numbers I used at Matte World Digital set by Monaco Labs in San Francisco using Cineon scanners and printers:

-35mm full ap: 2048x1556 (this size is usually matted to 1.85 after filmout)
-Anamorphic: 3656x1556 (unsqueezed) & 1828x1556 (squeezed for filmout) End result is 2.35
-Vistavision plates: 3072x2048 (rarely used)

Of course HD and Imax resolutions have a whole other set of standards. I believe that currently the high end of the HD formats is around 2k wide. However, I still work at double res even for large Imax frames.

10-25-2004, 01:45 AM
Hope this helps answer your question! Everything now should
be as clear as mud!! :D

Digital Backlot
10-25-2004, 10:11 AM
LOL clear as mudd yes! but honestly that does help out. I was thinking 2048 x 1556 but then I was also thinking it should be twice this if I plan on going in on it.

so I'm guessing after reading though this that if I print my film at 2,048 x 1,556 then my matte should be twice this resolution if I want to zoom in and have room to move right?

After doing a little research myself I found that there are literally hundreds of different resolutions or at least a hundred years of change.

This does help a ton though. I think I know what I have to do. Thanks for everyone that helped, I'm sure this will help others who stumble upon this thread.


10-28-2004, 09:16 AM
Well, as to just expand whats been said :) I think most people tend to do a 2:1 ratio of whats painted to what shows up on screen. So, if you have a 2k outsize, your painting is atleast 3-4k.

Now, this is without any push-ins (more or less). Quite often you might do a painting thats going to be used in a few different shots with maybe one shot being very close to it, or a shot that has a nodal rotation of sorts. This one shot might bring the actual painting up into 10k or higher and might force the painting to not have the dimensions of the out-size.

So, just measure how big it needs to be in the shot/zoom thats the 'closest' to the painting, and do it in double size from that.

11-05-2004, 07:25 AM
Where do you guys get this sort of huge images?
Need at least Canon EOS 1DS digital SLR camera or compatible..?

11-05-2004, 09:29 AM
My camera's nothing special. When I use photography in a large
painting, I build it from multiple images.

11-08-2004, 07:04 AM
Yeah, I do the same way ;-) But there are situations when you need a full size image and no set extensions can help...

03-02-2005, 07:44 AM
I always have a bit of trouble getting my head around all this stuff. I was thinking of doing a few paintings for my reel but I'd like to give them that 'letterbox' look as it has a more cinematic feel to it. Would it be best to just render out at PAL res and then just add some black borders in post? If so, what visble area of my image should I go for? say 1:2? 720*360? or is there a better ratio to use?

03-02-2005, 08:26 AM
Interesting thread, I have a related question if you don't mind. I am working on an image that is 4000 X 3400, and now that it's up around 70 MB, PS is going to scratch disc too often even with 1.5 GB RAM on my machine. How do you manage these large files? It's painfully slow when I use liquify or any brush that has any kind of odd features, and I understand that PSCS only supports up to 2 GB ram so you must have some secrets, right?

03-02-2005, 08:46 AM
You can try saving out copies with fewer layers, say making
separate files for background, midground and foreground.
And if you're using brushes and filters that are RAM hogs,
do your painting etc. on a flattened copy, then drag those
changes into your main file(s).

03-06-2005, 05:01 PM
To mdwsr: To add to what rrische said, you might want to check your prefs and system settings to see what amount of RAM is allocated to Pshop. I often have matte shots between 200MB and 450MB and don't have a problem with scratch-disks and can work very quickly. I'd also try and only work in 8bit mode (assuming you might be in 16bit mode). If you're working in 16bit mode in Pshop CS, ask yourself if you really need to... my guess is probably not. Usually only soft gradations in skies and clouds need a full 16bits for film output... in that case, create only the sky in 16bit and the rest of your dozens of layers in 8bit. If you're output is only video, you can probably skip 16bit alltogether. Doing a few quick tests to answer these questions in your particular shot could save you lots of time in the end.

To cameo: If you're creating a reel for becoming a matte artist, personally I'd prefer to see the reel with standard film aspect ratios: 2.35 or 1.85 are most common. Learning how to compose shots within these limitations is part of the job and not always easy. I don't see a problem with adding black borders to your PAL or NTSC shots, it's simply preparing you to work in a film type aspect ratio.

03-06-2005, 06:21 PM
Thanks guys, I'm using 8 bit now, tried using 16 on this one for a time but realized after awhile that I really didn't need it. I have an image that I've been working on for a month or so off and on with lots of elements and it's starting to get big. I use Painter for a bit and then go to PS for things I am more familiar with in that program.

Also, I am under the understanding that when the Efficiency goes below 100% in PSCS it means it is writing to scratch disc, is this correct? Mine starting going to scratch disc early on if this is true (1.5 Gb RAM). I'm not sure what I'm doing differently than you guys. Last check my image was 74 MB with 8 layers, one set, and two path layers. One of these path layers is pretty complex, maybe that's what's slowing me down.

Again, I didn't mean to hijack this thread but I find it an interesting one. It's cool that a layman like myself can visit with professionals.

This one is taking a long time because I am painting draperies, and they are an important part of the piece. I think I might go and take some pictures of hanging draperies for reference since mine from my head are looking kinda lame.

03-06-2005, 06:54 PM
74 megs on disc? Or is that what size your file is when it's open?

Paths aren't going to give you problems. Using paths (as opposed
to layers, layer masks or channels) are the most memory-efficient
method of storing selections.

8 layers, huh? That's NOTHING. What pixel dimensions is your image?

03-06-2005, 07:01 PM
Yeah, 8 layers, that should be a piece of cake for 1.5GB of RAM (I'm assuming your still working on the 4000 pixel wide image). I don't use paths, but maybe try and make a copy of your file and delete the paths to see if you still have the same problems.

As for taking photos of draperies, great idea. You'll get great details from them and you may be able to put a photo in your matte painting to help guide you along if the lighting and color is similiar.

03-06-2005, 07:34 PM
4000 X 3400 pixels, latest version is 49 MB on disc after I turned off "Maximaze Compatibility". My doc size shows 48.9m/169.8M in PS's status bar right after opening. I just re-opened it and it went directly to 93% efficiency. I can do anything to the image and save, then it is 100%, until I try a brush with a lot of opacity and short strokes, or use the Liquify filter. Occasionally when I go to below 100% eff I check performance and my PS process will be above my 75% RAM setting on RAM use every time, so I assumed that when eff was below 100% it was writing to disc. Maybe I need to dig a little deeper (or get a mac).

I think maybe I do have a problem and it is unique from what I've read about other's experiences, but I have found work-arounds by doing some things in PS and others in PIX so have not delved much deeper yet. To get the detail I want in my image I need as large a file as I can get away with. I have a lot of software on this machine, maybe I'm in need of a format and start all over (or again, get a mac).

WinXP SP2, 1.5 G RAM, 3.0 GHz P4, dual disc drive. Scratch disc set to non-install drive. History states down to 20 now, wish I could have more.

03-06-2005, 10:39 PM
Well, I'm not a Windows user, so I don't know if I can be much help.
I know that PSCS's factory settings aren't the greatest and can cause
performance problems. I don't use CS at home, only sometimes at work.

You might want to go to Adobe's website and check out a CS for Windows
forum. They might know better what's going on.

I can say with a high degree of certainty that your problem isn't your
file size. I have 1.5 gigs of RAM on my machine at home, and my files
have to be much MUCH bigger before I start to even notice a performance
hit. I recently did some illustrations for print that were 8500x3000 pixels
in CMYK and the files were ENORMOUS. My layers tend to get outta hand.
I would have to stop maybe once a day and restart. That was about it.

Are you on a network? Are you using PS's file browser?

03-07-2005, 04:32 AM
Fantastic thread so far, wanted to cash in.
Out of interest, what size screens are you guys using? And tablets?

Also, this might be a crazy question, but are you guys at 72dpi? I was doing some posters the other day, and wasn't willing to use Illustrator just yet, as i prefer PS and accidently created a 23GB file. Heh heh, oops.
It was at 300 for print but out of interest is it always 72 for you guys?

03-07-2005, 05:43 AM
rrische - Just a local network at home, and I rarely use the file browser. I think it's a windows thing.

the_gordon - I usually use 212. It makes the file size much bigger though. I read the other day that some of the newer monitors are 96-100 ppi so I would think it would be prudent to go at least 96, but I am definately a student and could be wrong.

09-24-2005, 11:30 PM
Hi guys,

This is my first post on this forum. I'd like to say hello, and after
browsing & really looking closely for days, I'm just so impressed with the
quality of art here, and sense of community. So before I say anything
else *hats off to the site's founder(s) and all the great artists posting their work*

I'm a musician, singer/songwriter with a background in design. But I've found
my way here and am dedicating a lot of time to learning new visual art skills.

I've read that many of you like to paint at 4096 px wide or double the film output. I'm
not familiar with all the jargon related to films and mattes yet, so forgive
me if I get it mixed up.

What DPI do you guys like to paint at? I've done a forum search for this and
haven't found the answer. Perhaps it's a secret?

I'm going to pick up Dylan's DVDs and the d'Artiste book by Ballistic when
I can afford it. The only thing I'm concerned about is not developing my
own techniques first, which is perhaps what I'll do before I learn other peoples process.

Cheers to all,

Singer/Songwriter & Aspiring Digital Matte Artist

B. Kachel
09-25-2005, 03:00 AM
72 dpi.

09-25-2005, 09:05 AM
OK so here is the skinny on DPI. DPI or dots per inch is a print term. At the end of the day a pixel is a pixel as far as what you see in PS goes.

What you need to understand is that diferent kinds of printing requier higher DPI (generally the standard is 300 but it can be higher for for really high quality printing and lower for things like signs or news papers.

But the thing is that it is all a ratio of the same information.

A file that is
26.667 X 15 Inches at 72 DPI
is the same as
6.4 Inches X 3.6 Inches at 300 DPI

they both have the pixel dimension of 1920 by 1080

So it really doesn't matter if you work at 300 or 72 so long as the you have a large enough pixel dimension to support whatever your final needs are. Typicly for print it is just easier to think in terms of inches rather then pixels so most people doing things for print will just do everything with the DPI set to 300. That way an inch really is an inch so long as the final out put is 300 DPI.

I will typicly work at 72 DPI but if I know I want to print it I will just go to
Image / Image Size in Photoshop and uncheck the Resample Image box.
Then I can type 300 DPI in the Resoulution field and see what Inch dimension I'm going to end up with. If I'm prining the image of my home printer I can get away with res as low as 150 withoul any loss of quality.

Does that all make sense?

09-25-2005, 09:16 AM
So it really doesn't matter if you work at 300 or 72 so long as the you have a large enough pixel dimension to support whatever your final needs are. Typicly for print it is just easier to think in terms of inches rather then pixels so most people doing things foor print with just do everything with the DPI set to 300. That way an inch really is an inch so long as the final out put is 300 DPI.

Does that all make sense?

It does. Thanks for the explaination! See what I mean about
community here. Appreciate the help guys.

12-01-2005, 11:49 PM
thanku iam also have the same dought

12-05-2005, 06:35 AM
iam the greatest fanof mr dylancole,now only isatarted mattepainting
i need what resolution used while working in system?
and also need the process of matte painting from concept art,collecton pictures ,painting ,compositing ,scanningan dthe end processes

12-06-2005, 03:47 AM
so we have to work morethan 1024*768,is it correct?or its depends up on the image quality..