|Original matte painting, painted
in shades of blue for black and white photography.
|Completed matte painting composite.
Digital Matte Painting
Traditional matte painting techniques
are as old as the motion picture camera and have changed
very little since they were first developed around the
turn of the century. But today, computers are redefining
matte painting as they have already revolutionized so
many other aspects of filmmaking. Matte paintings like
the ones you have just seen are becoming obsolete --
a lost art. But the need for creating effects sequences
like those in "The Paradine Case" remains.
New, digital techniques like "virtual
set-building" are becoming more and more essential to
filmmaking. So, why are traditional matte paintings
being replaced by computer graphics solutions? Well,
the matte painting has been an excellent solution for
static shots where the camera does not have to move
through a scene. Skilled matte cameramen could employ
tricks to simulate camera moves by zooming, panning
and tilting over the painting.
|Camera zooms in during
||Actors are featured at
end of zoom.
Great Expectations - Creating
We just saw an example of this in that shot from "The Paradine
Case" where Gregory Peck is standing in the distance next to the
lamp. Still, ordinary matte paintings are two-dimensional artwork.
They are limited to moves that don't change in perspective. The
gift of computer graphic solutions to visual effects is that we can
now move through the third dimension in digital matte paintings.
|Live action set combined
with wire frame.
||Composite showing second
level CG room added to live action room.
This is a sequence from 1997's Great
Expectations that had similar requirements to The
Paradine Case. It was our job to create an interior
establishing Miss Havisham's dilapidated mansion. Using
what's called "3D match-move," we have tracked the camera
movement from the "real world" motion-picture camera
to our 3D software's "virtual camera" in the virtual
After visually confirming that we have
matched all the camera's movement with the wire frame,
we can now attach the real world set to the virtual
set at any transition point. In this case, from just
below the balcony. Now, we call this final rendering
stage "two-and-a-half-D" (instead of 3D) because the
next step is for the matte artist to create custom texture
maps with his or her 2D paint tools that will ride on
the wire frame geometry as the camera moves through