Before placing all the visual and set dressing elements into the street scene I need to portray what the overall look of the CGI back ground and sky will look like. It is night-time but there has to be some light. As there is a fair bit of pollution I’m going with an orange green cast to start with. This can be altered at a later stage.
This is a white matte to make the layering easier. Below shows the sky and the start of the background, along with a building design that is partly influenced by my interiors, partly by a gothic/art deco combination.
The image above was created by altering a pen design that I found. I then changed the sizes, inverted them to create a collection of buildings. This will sit at the back of the scene as a CGI matte painting. There will also be an addition of a CGI burnt out building using the existing high-rise block of flats.
With the background near completion I can now add in some of the design elements to the foreground.
The next phase will include altering shop and street signs where necessary and adding in some rubbish, broken glass, maybe a burnt out car etc.
As part of my project I need to look at set extensions, both for the reception space to extend the height and also for the external scenes to change the sky lines. Matte paintings are used behind a built set, filmed action or scale model to extend the set or create a world that would be impossible or too costly to build. In the early days, matte painting was done on sheets of glass. Today it’s a digital composite.
Craig Barron, once matte cameraman at Industrial Light and Magic discusses matte painting.
“Good matte paintings are as much about design and planning as anything else,” states Barron. ” Long before anything is filmed, a matte shot will be carefully planned by us and the film’s production designer. This usually entails producing a number of small test paintings in which we figure out composition, colour schemes, lighting effects and how live action will integrate with painting.” (RICKETT, R., 2000)
An image like this would take many hours to produce, so a production designers job is to produce images or collaborate with artists to design scenes that portray the overall look of the film and act as a guideline for VFX artists.
The videos that I’ve found so far about Matte painting either use photographs or images to start with or draft up drawings then paint over, adding photo elements on top. This video is an example of how the image is built up using stages or layers to produce a realistic view.
From this I have thought about how I go about designing with matte painting in mind. I’m not trained in the art of digital FX like the VFX artists of companies such as Framestore but I can design concepts that convey the colour palette of the film or a certain look to some of the architecture.
I had a go at using photos and digital painting in Photoshop to try to produce concepts/matte painted backgrounds as a guideline image for colour schemes and lighting.
This image is a progression from the first drawing with background and foreground pieces inserted. To finish this digital Matte/concept I would need to add some detail and some more buildings in the foreground. When designing my locations where a CGI is needed or a space that needs green screen I will create a matte concept that will give a good idea of how I want the scene to look as part of the set design.
RICKETT, R., Special Effects: The History and Technique. London: Virgin Books, 2000.
As my project requires me to use green screen due to the restricted height of the sound stage, I need to look at green screen and how it is used to create set extensions. One of the important features of the reception area of the Medical Research Centre is the creation of height and as the height of the stage is a little over 10 metres and needs to appear to be several floors below ground it needs a form of green screen/set extension to achieve this.
What is green screen?
It is a technique that was traditionally known as a travelling matte that allows actors to be shot in a studio environment and then is removed in post-production (sometimes production) and replaced with a different image. This can be anything from an external location background through to an architectural extension like my project design. Any colour can be used but blue and now green are used as they are the complement of the colours that make up the base colours of human skin tone. (Byrne, B., 2009)
What is a matte painting?
Matte paintings are usually of a location and used to extend a set, combined with live action, models or animation to create a composite image. Traditionally these were painted onto glass sheets and combined with optical techniques such as rear projection. Today they are painted digitally, then combined with the live elements of the shoot. (Rickitt, R., 2000)
I will need to create a design of a matte for my sound stage extension, so I am now looking at examples of green screen shots before finalising any designs. I found a selection of videos to show a few ways that a green screen can be used.
I thought that the second video was particularly interesting in the fact that they used a green screen technique combined with a scaled model and made a composite shot to save thousands of dollars. Theoretically this could be done with my interior as the character of Clayton only walks through the space. So instead of building a full-scale set in the sound studio, a model could be used with perhaps some small elements of set to create realism.
The Walking Dead uses a combination of real sets and real falling debris and green screen/set alteration to create a scene in which a helicopter falls through the ceiling. Realism here is created by using a combination of techniques. Green screen is only one part of the sequence.
Green screen can be used as a small part of a scene composite to allow real people to merge seamlessly, to extend a set, to allow stunts or to create a set in its entirety. What’s important, whether green screen is used or not, is that the design or visualisation of the scene is a collaborative process between the Production Designer/art department/VFX/stunt coordinators/ the Director etc. whether it is a CGI scene, scaled model or full set.
BYRNE, B., The Visual Effects Arsenal. Oxford: Focal Press, 2009.
RICKETT, R., Special Effects:The history and technique. London: Virgin Books, 2000.