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the future for mattepainting
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miragenz is Offline
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Default the future for mattepainting - 01-23-2012, 05:02 PM

hi all, been seeing comments around recently about how 3D is taking over from digipainting / photographs for mattes etc and was wondering if anyone in the industry had any comments on where they see things going and how soon... here's a quote from an fxguide interview with whiskeytree...

"fxg: It seems these days the concept of a ‘matte painting’ is nearly fully been replaced by digital environment. Would you agree? Or does the technique of a matte painting projected over geo mean that a ‘traditional digital matte painting’ has as much relevance today as 10 or 15 years ago?

Yukuhiro: Yes, the concept of a matte painting has changed dramatically these days. If it was a 2D matte painting, it used to be mostly image-based and done almost entirely in Photoshop. For the last few years we have even started doing 2D locked off camera shots in 3D so that we have a lot more flexibility than we normally would have if we did it with a traditional matte painting.

We still do some additional touch-up in Photoshop on top of the 3D render, but thanks to the technological advancements the necessity for touch-up work is even becoming less and less nowadays. 
Image-based projection is definitely one of the quickest ways to achieve the photo-real environment and yet due to the high demand of the changes from the client, which we often receive, we use this technique much less than we used to."


as someone training to get into the industry I'd really appreciate any insights... :)

cheers dave
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Default 01-23-2012, 07:47 PM

I wouldn't say its taking over matte painting just yet, photoshop is still heavily used in adjacent to Maya, Nuke, and now Mari, its becoming a highly desired skill-set to have in the industry since Nukes projection mapping is used so heavily now a days between dmp artists & compers.


Nick Giassullo
Matte Painter / Environments
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Default 01-24-2012, 06:46 AM

I've been spreading this message for a couple of years, and it seemed like nobody agreed or wanted to believe it. Now that Yukuhiro has said it, hopefully some will believe it.

3d software will rule the day. Since matte painting is usually about photo realism, and 3d applications are getting more built in functionality and push button uv mapping, texturing and realistic rendering solutions, it makes it faster to do the changes that are requested. This new breed of digital environments are fine, but there's definitely less art involved.

That's why I'm not involved anymore.
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Default 01-24-2012, 03:12 PM

thanks for the replies... its interesting that my experience has been that the majority of training and challenges for mattes has been about photoshop and 'real life' textures, and more recently projections... but to think 3D will take over is a bit sad, all those paint skills, composition, lighting, form and cast shadows, atmo perspective... as long as you slap a sun in the same place as the plate its all done for you... anyone with a hopeful comment about the future of PS and matte painting? (and no not concept art ;) dave
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Default 01-24-2012, 09:20 PM

I don't think mattepainting will be replaced by 3D sometime soon. Even if large productions are able to make everything in 3D, which they can since there are now a days programs that do almost everything, one thing still is true and decisive... TIME.

And Time is of the essence in advertising. Last year I worked on a commercial for television where I had to do some underground rocks. If someone was to model it they would have taken ages, I did it in a week. And the matte textures were projected onto simple geometry. They didn't even had to render with complicated parameters, because as you know we give shadows and light directly into the texture of objects.

Yet I do agree that, although we paint, it's hardly bad to have skills in photography and 3d modeling... why shouldn't we?
Heck, I do whatever gives me money. Webdesign, logos, movies, mattes... I even fly helicopters... :)
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Default 01-24-2012, 09:39 PM

Judging by the number of studios currently hiring matte painters, it's not something that's going to disappear any time soon. It's always a job in flux, and in five years we may well be using mari instead of photoshop, but there always going to be things that are easier, cheaper and more realistic to create with paint / image manipulation tools than with a CG package.

In fact, with the schedules of even the biggest features being pushed more and more (even running on TV-style schedules in some cases) matte painting techniques are being used more than ever, from what I can see.

You can make the argument that an artist painting over a basic CG render, and then projecting the resulting image back into 3D isn't actually a matte painter any more. But that's just arguing semantics - good artists with paint skills are still in demand. VERY in demand right now in Vancouver.


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Default 01-25-2012, 12:01 AM

Im not at all concerned, imagination, creativity, problem solving artistic licence are something a computer will never have.


Also who says matte painting is for broad cast and film, just used matte painting for a client and it was a advert in a magazine.


Cheers Rich


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Default 01-25-2012, 03:55 AM

cheers ricardo, yeah there seems to be a few 'absolute' statements being made about 3d... guess I'll find out (hopefully), in the meantime its logos, n design for me too (and flyin a Warrior PA-28... but thats for losing money not making it :)

@ Alex.. encouraging words, great to hear vancouver's still going well, I'd be on a plane in a flash if I thought I had a chance... ha

@ rich.. was just wondering really where things were heading... have had two careers that I left due to software taking the fun out of it and making things less creative... cheers dave
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Default 01-25-2012, 04:43 AM

Look guys,

I have painting skills, very high end painting expertise. The first job I had (in Vancouver), they specifically did not want Photoshop painting whatsoever, even though the job position was matte painter. They demanded 3d for even the most static of shots. Yes, someone had to push the computer's buttons (I'm not arguing that), and yes painting is what makes me different from a modeler or 3d generalist. However, you don't have to be a good painter to do good photographic looking 3d work. This is not opinion, it's a fact.

Alex, what is VERY in demand in Vancouver? In all the positions for matte artists in Vancouver, how much 3d do you think is involved? If a Photoshop painter showed up at the door and didn't want to use 3d, would he/she be still in demand? If so, it's time for me to get back out there.
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Default 01-25-2012, 05:50 AM

from my experience, the only 3D tech a matte painter was expected to know were projections. As far as European studios are concerned, you *are* expected to work with photoshop for your matte and Nuke/Maya for projection.

I don't see how matte painters will get replaced anytime soon; As Alex said, they are in demand now more than ever.

Besides, even if the director decides to do the shot entirely 3D, painting a diffuse projected texture (done via PS/matte painting)and using a normal map to adjust light as needed beats rendering fully 3D anytime, both for render times and quality.

As far as changes are concerned - that's what the pre-viz/concept art stage is for. If you find yourself asked to drastically change the matte after almost finishing it, then either the pre-viz step was a fail in communication, either the lead didn't do his job, well...leading the team :)


"Digital Art is like magic...and we are all it's Wizards"

-Tiberius Viris-

Website: tiberius-viris.com

Last edited by Suirebit; 01-25-2012 at 05:55 AM..
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