MPC Digital Matte Painting Challenge
MPC Digital Matte Painting Challenge
'Alien Cloudscape' July 27th 2012 – September 7th 2012
MPC recently completed the VFX for Prometheus
and in celebration of the release of the movie we now challenge you to create your own original otherworldly environment!
The goal of this competition is to achieve a photo-real looking digital matte painting that represents the thick cloud layers of
an alien planet carved by whirlpools of wind.
The concept sketches below are a basic representation of the general layout of this hypothetical shot and its light direction
and colour palette. The final matte painting should respect these indications, though entrants are free to rearrange the details,
playing with light and shadows to improve the composition and balance the image.
You are allowed to use any mix of techniques: photo manipulation, digital painting and CG renders are all acceptable as long as
the final image respects the previously defined requirements.
Our generous co-sponsor - environment-textures.com - is providing a free login to their library for the duration of the contest,
so you have access to some very high quality source images to use in your paintings.
You are free to use images from other sources besides environment-textures.com, but be mindful of copyright restrictions on any
images you use - in particular, don't use anything from another artists' painting, and definitely don't sample any screenshots from
Prometheus itself! (We worked on it, after all, so we'll spot it fairly easily...).
In order to enter the contest, simply create a new thread in this section of the forum. Please include your real name in the title of
your thread (for example: 'Alien Cloudscape – John Smith’). Entrants should use this thread to explain the methodology they have
used and show a few steps of their work in progress.
The contest will run from the 27th of July to 12 midnight GMT on the 7th of September. Towards the end of the contest, a 'final entries'
sticky thread will be created. To be eligible for judging, you will need to post your finished image to this thread before the deadline.
The final image must be delivered as a 4K 8-bit sRGB jpeg. That's way too big to view nicely in a forum, though - so we would like you
to post your image to the 'final entries' thread at 1/4 of this size (1024x576), and add a LINK to the full res image. We'll remind you
about this later. You may upload your image as attachment or find an external site to host your images, it's very easy - there is a
sticky thread on how to do this:
Entrants should not be a current MPC employee or anyone who has worked for us in the past 24 months.
An Apple iPad
An annual premium membership to environment-textures.com
A full years subscription and gain access to ALL training videos in the cmiVFX.com library...
and potentially earn the right to teach the winning painting on a training video as an official cmiVFX Mentor Star.
$250 of Apple Store vouchers
A standard annual membership to environment-textures.com
Three videos from cmivfx.com
$100 of Apple Store vouchers
Six-month membership to environment-textures.com
One video from cmivfx.com
MPC (The Moving Picture Company) is a world leading post production facility creating high-end digital visual effects, computer
animation and integrated digital services for the feature film, advertising, music and broadcast industries.
Environment Textures - High Resolution Textures for 3D artists and Game Developers.
cmiVFX is the leader in high end video training for the visual effects and computer graphics industry.
Some FAQs / guidelines:
Who's going to be judging the entries?
How will the winners be decided?
A feature film digital matte painting should always let the audience think that they are looking at a photograph.
A believable (if not physically accurate) lighting approach, correct perspective and consistent grading will be the
crucial aspects of how we evaluate the work.
We expect to receive a single layer 4K-sRGB image that meets the usual basic requirements we have in production:
consistency of sharpness throughout the image and absence of visible grain.
The final results will be announced on this forum 2 weeks after the contest closes.
Will we get any kind of feedback?
Writing feedback on lots of entries is very time consuming. We'll give detailed feedback on the top three (to explain why we
think they are the winners), and comment on every entry in the top 10. We don't have time to reply to everyone, unfortunately.
What do you mean by '4K', exactly?
A cinematic image can have lots of different aspect ratios, and several are commonly described as '4K'. In this case, please paint
an image with the pixel dimensions 4096x2304. When projected in a cinema, this could well be cropped to 4096x1714, so you
might take this into account when constructing your image.
Why do we need to deliver an 8-bit jpeg - that doesn't sound very realistic?
We'd love to ask everyone to deliver 16-bit tif files, but this is going to strain the bandwidth of even the fastest internet connection.
We'd recommend that you work in full 16-bit mode when painting though and convert to 8-bit for delivery.
How closely do we have to follow the concept art?
As closely as you can, whilst making sure the final image is photo-real. If you come across an issue where you could either follow the
concept art exactly OR make the image look better, take the second option.
In most online contests, we need to leave feedback on other artists' work. Don't we need to do that here?
Everyone is basically working on the same painting, based on the same pieces of concept art, so that seems a bit unnecessary.
Feel free to comment in the 'WIP' thread of another artist (I'm sure they would appreciate it), but it's not mandatory.
Why do you want us to post our real names?
Two primary reasons - firstly, because it's weird referring to real people by forum nicknames when writing feedback.
Second (and possibly more importantly) if you win, or we decide we want to hire you, we need to know who you are!
I'd really like to work at MPC - are you hiring?
We're looking for talented DMP and environment TD artists at all levels, from juniors through to leads.
If you've got a show reel and a decent attitude, we'd love to hear from you.
...And some LEAGAL stuff (we live in a litigious world, unfortunately, and we need at put this in somewhere):
Entering this contest does not imply any kind of agreement or contract between you and the Moving Picture Company (MPC), mattepainting.org, cmiVFX or environment-textures.com. Prizes are offered at the sole discretion of MPC, and the contest may be terminated, altered or extended due to unforeseen technical issues. Winners are responsible for providing MPC with a valid shipping address, and will also be responsible for all customs charges and fees. The winning images may be displayed on MPC's website, environment-textures.com and mattepainting.org in connection with this contest. This contest is not endorsed nor linked in any way to 20th Century Fox, Brandywine Productions, Dune Entertainment or Scott Free Productions.
This looks like a great challenge. I think I will break out the old tablet and see what I can do.
Thanks a lot for putting this competition on. Awesome theme and im looking forward to this.
Looks really good comp to join in with. Good luck to everyone!
This sounds like a fun challenge, great theme also. Thanks for setting this up.
This challenge will be very interesting. Clouds could be very challenge, I wish good look to all entrants.
I also have a few questions:
1) Clouds, wind, weather effects normally are moving elements. Should I include these types of elements that normally gonna be animated in comp or created in the CG process(considering the the matte-painting is more a background image for the "original plate" then a final shot by itself)?
2)Could I include some kind of ruins, or lost cilization for the environment?
3)In case of the matte-painting is not only the background element, but let say the "final shot", it's allowed any post-processing work?
Thanks for your time,
Looks like a great challenge.
Is anyone else getting a limit exceeded issue from www.environment-textures.com?
I get it too.
In a shot like this, the clouds are at such a large scale that we wouldn't really expect any significant movement, and it's perfectly reasonable to create them as a static DMP (The brief is designed to be as realistic as possible, so this is something we have done on a real project).
DO add subtle photographic elements (as indicated in the concept) - atmospheric glow, haze, light wrap etc. as required.
DON'T add rubbish instagram effects, grain, vignetting, chromatic aberration or cheesy lens flares.
Does that answer your question, or have I misunderstood what you were asking?
Look forward to seeing everyone's entries
That's really awesome. Thank you MPC. Can't wait to work on it. It will be definitely fun. Also looking forward to see all the matte paintings.
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