Impressive shot breakdown by TheMatteDepartment

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Few months ago, the team from TheMatteDept put on line a very nice making of which explained very clearly all the steps and the general workflow to put together a big environment shot made of thousand of assets.
Anthony Eftekhari and Fabio Zungrone show us the different steps to go through this, from the build, and the modeling of the assets, the texturing, the lookdev, and the FX effects like crowd simulation.
Then we see how the scene is assembled together, and how the assets have been used and multiplied to create the full environment by combination of them, like lego blocks.
Then it’s time to light the scene, the background is a matte painting and then the shot is good to be sent to compositing.
Compositor will work on the final grading, small tweaks in the keylight and the shadows, then he’ll add few animated elements like smoke, birds, and everything that can bring the shot to life and make it looking real.

It’s a very nice making of, because it shows us the full process of a shot like this. We can spot some repetitions in the assets through the city, which could be a bit problematic, but it’s just a question of how many assets you build. Don’t forget that there is just 2 guys here ! The result is pretty amazing for this microscopic team !

Well done guys, really impressive !

If you want to see high resolution pictures of their work, you can go on their website : http://themattedepartment.com

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Oblivion and the Sky Tower

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I don’t know if you had a chance to look at the VFX Featurettes from Oblivion which shows the use of projections instead of a green screen replaced by matte painting of plates, but it’s really interesting.
It’s interesting because it seems to be the future of green screen replacement. At least, this is what people say in this featurette. And that’s true, it’s really helping a lot the shot. All the compositors know that it’s a nightmare to make a full greenscreen shot working with a plate. Light never really works on both foreground and background, there is a lot of despill to do, and you keep this layering feeling.
That’s what happened when Lucas shot the new Star Wars trilogy with an empty set. The result is not always very nice, just because it’s impossible to replace big blue or green panels in a realistic way, during a long sequence.

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So yes, it’s absolutely right, being able to use projection of a plate which both fill the background, and give the correct light/reflection on the sets and on the characters is a bright idea !

They probably haven’t’ been able to keep the BG as it is though, and I’m sure they had to replace it later with another one. But at least, the light on set was right, and even if they had to roto the actor, unless you have hairs or very small objects moving in front of the BG, it’s not dramatic. We would have to roto a lot of things out anyway, even if we had used green/bluescreen. In a matte painting point of view, it’s really useful to have a reference of what give the light of the set. Even if the resolution of the projection is not enough, you clearly see where the light is, the values of the colours, intensity of lights. It makes your work much easier when you want to repaint something then.

Have a look at this video, it’s funny to see how front and rear projections, this amazing techniques we used decades ago are still up to date, even if it’s just to provide a nice lighting and reflection pass, before we put a better BG in place.

Speedpainting tutorial #1

I was digging in the old pictures from Making FX to try to organise some gallery, when I found this breakdown of an old speedpainting I’ve done years ago based on a photo of a lake in the Laurentides (Quebec).
When you want to do something like this, it’s important to define your colour palette. I personally like to use a photo as reference, just to visualize a bit better the mood I want to recreate, or at least something real which is not too far.
But it’s a good exercise for you to not pick the colour directly in your ref, in order to develop a bit your ability to find it by yourself. Don’t spend to much time in the details. The goal of this is really to set up a composition and a colour palette in just few minutes. In the following slide show, you’ll see the different steps.

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That is the picture I used as a ref, before I decide to change the lighting of it 😉
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It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since I haven’t post a blog article about VFX ! But this time, I felt it was the good moment.Please forgive me about all the mistake I’m going to make, because I’m still French, and I still haven’t learn to speak a proper English.
Few years ago, I launched Making FX, and you’ve been a huge amount of people to follow it. I really wanted to thank you for this.
I’m coming back, and I will keep talking about Matte Painting, mostly Digital now. I’ll share my feelings about the work, I will give you an overview on what happens in the studios, I’ll post some video tutorial, and share some techniques with those who want to practice in this discipline.
But don’t worry, I still love Traditional Matte Painting, and I’ll make sure you’ll find everything you liked on MakingFX here as well. Unfortunately, my previous blog has been hacked by a virus which contaminated everything. I lost most of the images and I need to put everything back in place here. But I’ll do it !

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I’m still working at Double Negative London and i just finished Thor : the Dark World. I was Environment Supervisor, in charge of an amazing team of Environment Artists. It’s been a lot of work, very challenging and very technical, but I’m very proud of what we’ve all achieved. I hope the rest enjoyed this project as much as I did. Really, I’ve had a great time ! I’d love to know what you think of this movie, so please, let us know ! It’s always nice to have feedbacks from VFX fans.

Just before Thor, I’ve been DMP Sup on Les Miserables, which also was a great opportunity for me to work on very challenging shots, like this long one when we follow the paper from the Church, to the sky… Quite cool.

On my side, I’m currently instructor with Nick Marshall for FXPhd. We’ve been asked to be in charge of the new Advanced Matte Painting term for FXPhd. That’s quite challenging, as it’s known that FXPhd is a high end training place. We’ll go through all the 2.5D Environment Techniques, from the Concept/Blockout, to the final Nuke Projection Script. It’s going to be super interesting.
I’m talking about Nick Marshall. You probably heard about this handsome guy already ! We’ve launched DMP Coach together, a plateform dedicated to Training and Workshop for DMP/ENV. I’ll talk about it longer another time to introduce you the project.
What else ? That’s it really ! Oh, yes… since last time, I’ve had a daughter. One of each now ! Youhouu !