View Full Version : School of Visual Arts Matte Painting Week 7

02-26-2009, 02:56 PM
Hi all-

For this weeks assignment you must create a concept sketch for your "City of the Future". You must also shoot your own plate of Manhattan. You have the opportunity to shoot with the entire class tomorrow (Friday) at 5:00. If you do not avail yourself of that opportunity, you must check out a camera and do the shoot yourself--no second party plates will be allowed!

We will meet tomorrow in front of the second floor office at 5:00, and all go to Hoboken at the same time via the Path train. From there, we will go out on the pier near first street on the Hudson river for the first set up, and any who want to can do their take from there. Then we will go to a famous look out at Stevens Tech where we will shoot from another angle. After that you are all invited to be my guests for dinner at Benny Tudino's in Hoboken, and afterward back to my home/studio to see where I work, and for dessert.

If it is raining hard, we will not do the shoot tomorrow, and you will need to contact me to find out what my backup plan is. I am hoping that the worst of the rain will be over, and we will perhaps have some dramatic clouds over Manhattan to enhance your shots.

Your shot MUST have a camera move in it. The point of this assignment is to track the various elements into a moving shot, so if there is no camera movement, you don't have anything to track. Make sure your shot is done on a tripod, and make it a stately pan over your subject--no whip pans please. Aim to have the shot around 20 seconds long. It can be longer than that if you have all kinds of great painting to show off, but no shorter. Also, shoot from a tripod. Your move needs to be what is called a nodal pan, or one where your camera does not move in the "Z" space, so place the camera on a tripod, and pan over your subject. A nodal pan is a little more complicated than this, but for our purposes, the camera on a tripod will be fine. No hand held shots allowed.

If there is any problem, you can call me on my cell phone at 551-208-4174. Please be on time, as I want to start shooting around 5:45, when the light will be most beautiful over the city.

Once you have your plate, you need to make a temporary plate to paint over. As I demoed in class, take one frame from the start of your pan, copy it out of quicktime (with the movie at full resolution), and place it in a photoshop file. Make the photoshop file much larger than what you actually need, as you will be pasting in other sections of the take. Now go to the middle of your take, and copy our a frame, and paste it into your photoshop file, lining it us as best you can. Now take a final frame from the take, and paste it in also. If you are missing any areas, and have taken a very expansive shot, you may need to do some fill in. The clips may not line up perfectly--there may be lens distortion, or your tripod may not be perfectly level--don't worry about it being perfect, just get everything into your photoshop file to paint over.

Just in case everyone is not completely confused already, when you get your plate, it will be in DVC Pro HD format (if you shot in HD on the Panasonic camera). When you copy the frames out of your Quicktime file, they will be squished since the DVC pro format shoots in a 1.5 pixel format. To get them to the correct aspect ratio, you will need to stretch each frame by exactly 150%. Either that, or export your file into another format with square pixels, and use that to create your temp file. Saving to another format will blow up the size of the file, but it will avoid having to stretch each frame by 150%.

Make a separate layer for painting, and paint over this your temp layout. Don't worry about all of the compositing we will do in later classes--your goal this week is to get a great concept sketch done. I am only asking for one, so make your sketch something wonderful. Start out with shapes, and try and get a nice silhouette to work with. Once you have that, you can command click into the layers palette on the layer, and have the silhouette be a selection for you to paint into. I am looking for something exciting and creative in your concept, so do some research, and spend your time giving me a true vision of the future.

NO PHOTOGRAPHS OF ANY SORT AT THIS POINT! I promise I will fail any student who uses photographs as part of their concept. Just paint! You can use the custom brush techniques I showed you, but no photographs at all.

The required elements as as follows:

1. You will need 5 elements to track into the final plate, like buildings, megastructures, whatever will be in New York in the far future.
2. One element must change color over time, like a billboard.
3. One element must float over the city, like a giant floating megastructure, or air cars, or space ships. You might like to look at Robert McCall's work for some floating structure inspiration.
4. You must replace some of the buildings with futuristic structures. This can be one of your 5 elements, but I want some of the work integrated into the existing city.
5. For you After Effects experts, you can replace the sky, but this is a tricky thing to do correctly. Work mainly on your city elements, and do this only if you have extra time.
Also, you don't have to pan straight across your subject. You can also start low and pan up, or laterally, if you want. Here is a layout from last semester when we shot on Times Square. Notice that the verticals curve as you pan up because of lens distortion. The students had to paint all of their structures curving to match this plate. (Actually the painted it straight up and down and the distorted it into shape). This is more difficult, but it can be done.


See you all tomorrow night!

David Mattingly

03-01-2009, 01:11 PM

I have had a couple of requests for a plate to do the "City of the Future" assignment from people who don't have access to a video camera. I have posed a high def plate from a couple of semesters ago. It is around 300 megs, so it will have a while to download. It is also compressed using the Sorenson Codec, so it will not yield the best results, but to post an uncompressed plate would be prohibitively large.
Here is the location of the plate:


Remember, the first thing you will want to do is create a temp photoshop file using single frame clips from frame one, a middle frame, and the last frame. They won't line up perfectly because of lens distortion, but it will be good enough to do your concept sketch over.

I'll probably take it down after this week since it takes up a lot of room on my site.


David Mattingly

03-01-2009, 03:03 PM
Wow, the assignments just took a step up! Sounds like a great challenge, look forward to seeing the sketches!


03-03-2009, 09:10 PM

03-04-2009, 03:11 PM
David, im sorry, but I came here with nothing for this time.

I was busy all weekend and most of other days (main work … is main work). I got only half of 1 evening to sit and draw the sketch. But that wasn’t enough for me. Anyway, I know that sketch was part of our few steps work, and, I hope, I will have a chance to finish this work in next weekend.

I post my “far from finish” sketch here. Yes, I know it looks funny now.
The idea was to show Manhattan isle in far future without field of skyscrapers, but with 4-5 futiristic buildings. As historic monument I was planned to keep safe only the Brooklyn bridge and couple of buildings.


Jim McKenzie
03-04-2009, 07:18 PM
okkkkay, so i did not have any time as you can see, to do a nice city. We didn't have school monday so i had to wait till tuesday to get the footage, and the footage was bad so I had to use the original shot. and since there was no school on monday it put me back with all my other midterms n homeworks sooooo in conclusion my concept sketch looks like a 6year old drew it on a napkin... i appologize


03-04-2009, 07:19 PM

I kind of had to rush this one dealing with the school being closed the one day and other classes big projects. This is supposed to be a concept and I believe it definitely shows the idea of what i want to do. When we truely start the painting it will have much more detail and be realistic. I hope my perspective is getting better since my attempt at the castle.

03-04-2009, 07:26 PM

03-04-2009, 07:32 PM

03-04-2009, 08:57 PM

03-04-2009, 08:59 PM
I had a late start this week, and wish I could have put more time into this one. Those works that have been posted so far are taken to a better level of rendering and completion than mine, though I was more focused on blocking in shapes, and my overall composition. After-all, a sketch is a sketch. See everyone tomorrow.



03-04-2009, 09:00 PM
BerylChen_Digital Matte Painting Homework_School of Visual Arts_Week 7


03-04-2009, 09:00 PM
When we captured the footage, I only took my own plate. It's quite dark, but it's the only one I have to work with. I figured you might ask me to switch to a lighter plate, so I painted all of the concepts lighter than needed and darkened them for this plate. If you want me to switch, the original concepts should transfer fine into a lighter plate.


03-04-2009, 10:18 PM
Hi all--
What I was primarily looking for this week were some interesting futuristic buildings, and a sense of what your final composition would look like. I also wanted you just paint, and use no photo reference. I am concerned that many of you nearly painted out the entire city. The idea is to add buildings, and space ships, into the existing city, not completely paint over it, You need to see some of the city to effectively track in to it. Many of you need to allow more of the city to show through (at least 50%.) We will work on that while tracking the plates in tomorrows class.
I'm disappointed that many of you worked over the demo plate I used in class. I wanted you all to have the experience of shooting your own plates, and coming to grips with the compromises that occur whenever you go out to shoot a plate. I am always surprised by all the unexpected things, good or bad, that happen when you are on an actual location. Spring break is this week, so I will require those of you who didn't shoot your own plate to go out and do that over the next 2 weeks. You can still use what you have done for your concept, but track it into your own plate. Any of you who came to Hoboken Friday night can use any of the plates we shot that I placed in my teachers folder.

So here are this weeks grades:

Akim Phimin--
Grade: This is so simple that it doesn't meet the requirements of the assignment. You are allowed to use that plate I posted, but you need to start with a moving plate, and track your elements in, to do this piece. We are off for spring break this week, so start over (or use this as a base for your final), and put some time into envisioning a futuristic city. As it stands now, this is a failing assignment.
Grade: F

Dan Bradham--I'm not sure what your plate looks like here--did you start focused on a street scene, and pan up? If so, I want to see your plate tomorrow, to confirm you have a good basis for this shot. It's not clear what elements are from the original plate, and I suspect you need to let more of the plate show through. Please take out the burning building--you can composite in an explosion after the class if you want, but right now I want to concentrate on the futuristic elements. I do like the domed sky, the nicely designed bat-like space ship, and the curve you have added in to your rising buildings to match the plate. With some additional work, this could be good.
Grade: B

Kate Conrad--The biggest thing I am concerned about with your sketch is that almost none of the original city shows through. Please let al least 50% of the original city show. But you have some very interesting, Bob McCall like structures here, and as you know, McCall is one of my favorite artists. I wish the buildings showed a little more detail--I can see some of the basic shapes you are going for, and the lighting scheme, but this is so loose that it is a bit hard to know anything very specific about the buildings. The mood is fun, and you could turn it into something wonderful. Please, as fun as your alien character is, no characters in this piece. Spend all of your time working out and compositing your city.
Grade: A-

Beryl Chen--This sketch is so dark that it is really hard to tell what you have in mind. You might want to switch to one of the lighter plates, so you can get some sky color, and more detail in the buildings. Also, your windows in your middle building are wildly out of scale. Remember, a window will be roughly the same size in buildings that are near each other. Since your middle building seems to be on the waterfront, it woud have windows roughly the same size as the buildings near it. As it is, this building seems to have windows 30 feet high. Be mindful about maintaining consistent scale on windows throughout your sketch. The other buildings are so dark, and abstract, it is hard to know what you are going for. Over the break, look at some other futuristic building for inspiration, and firm up what your buildings really look like.
Grade: C-

Jacek Jurga--I'm disappointed that there is no homework from you. You must figure out how to meet your obligations to this class, or drop out.
Grade: F

Brandon Lori--Great!! Fantastic! This was what I was looking for! You didn't kill yourself tickling this up, but you gave me enough information about the shapes, and how these people make their buildings, that I believe it! My once concern is that you still have to leave room for the real plate to show though, so shuffle your buildings around to leave space for New York--you can always drop more of the into the background, and add more depth to the whole piece. After a slow start in this class, you are really coming on strong.
Grade: A

Andrea Lowery--You have some wonderfully fun shapes happening here, but you have covered up the entire city! I'll want you to break these out into layers, put some in the background and mid-ground and mixed among the existing buildings. I like how you let your imagination flow freely to create this whimsical city of the future.
Grade: B

Jim McKenzie--You looked at the footage we took friday and found it so bad you had to go back to this demo shot? We'll go over what we took in class--there are some good takes. In any case, this isn't all that horrible. I like your building with the little city on top, and you are getting some adventurous form going (I suspect that one building will instantly be dubbed "The Wishbone Building". Let's get some more of those adventurous shapes happening in the coming weeks. I'm still grading you down for using the demo plate--if you hate what we shot on friday so much, get out and do another over spring break.
Grade: C+

Danica Perry--This is a nasty city, and I like it!! Did you shoot another plate? Remember, you have to have a moving plate to track your elements in to. But as long as you based this on a plate, this is a very nice scene, with command of your atmospheric perspective, and some compelling "1984" authoritarian regime buildings. Nice start.
Grade: A

Derick Ramirez--No homework.
Grade: F

Dan Pochtrager-- You definitely have the beginnings of some interesting buildings here--I like the center one with the holes in it, and the one of the right with the bridge. I would love more of that. Also, watch the scale of your windows--the left hand building has some humongous windows that are out of scale with the scene. Also, you have to get out and shoot your own plate, or use one of the friday plates (you were there Friday if I am remembering right). You can keep what you have started here, but use your own plate.
Grade: C

Max Thomas--Your piece is too tight for my ideal concept sketch, and I wish you had let your imagination run a little wilder in your shapes. These building are incredibly blocky, and those huge windows will need some sort of break up to work in this scene. But I like how you paid attention to the perspective, and worked to integrate you buidlings into the existing city. As you work more on this, do look at other futuristic buidlings, and get some more exciting shapes going.
Grade: B

04-23-2009, 02:11 PM
Bringing SVA matte painting threads together for reference