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MPC dossier: What is Digital Matte Painting?

MPC's Marco Genovesi explains what digital matte painting is, and how it's no longer a backdrop but very much part of the main action.

Marco Genovesi is MPC’s Head of 3D Digital Matte Painting. In this clip he explains what that actually means in a modern VFX company.

The word Matte can be misleading in this context, but it’s a nod to the historical lineage of film as we’ve seen previously.

With 3D compositing, matte paintings are no longer just the plate stuck in the far background- they are much more incorporated into the whole environment. To think of DMP (Digital Matte Painting) as just inert layers behind the action is to underestimate what the prefix ‘digital’ has afforded matte painters.

You can get a great idea of what MPC’s matte painting department contributed to Marco’s favourite film Prometheus (2012) via his blog here.

What films really stand out for their matte painting to you? It’s harder to spot it these days, as it is more integrated- but feel free to mention pre-digital films too. Do you think Matte Painters get recognised enough for their contribution these days, or are they still seen as ‘background artists’?

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