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Author   Topic : "About applying for a job"
Petri.J
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:24 pm     Reply with quote
I have couple questions regarding applying for a job from movie industry as a matte painter.
This decade old dream of mine is killing me since it requires me moving to U.S. and that is a big step for me. Though after this long time of thinking I have come to conclusion that I should do this instead of just think of doing it.
Currently I work in games industry, but that never goes any further than fast concept art, and I would like to extend to matte painting. That's why I'm thinking of working with movies instead of games.
I hope that those who reply to this thread speak from experience and leave guessing to other threads. Thanks.

1. Education: In Finland most companies write in their job applications that education is required, but in reality a strong portfolio is more important. How is this in U.S.?

2. Years of experience: Now I know that experience is important, I have done some concept design work for games, but I have never actually had a full time job as a concept artist or matte painter. So should I try to get more experience from smaller advertising companies as a full time concept/matte painter before trying to apply a job for example at ILM, or is a good portfolio more important?
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Sumaleth
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:07 pm     Reply with quote
I expect that a portfolio is the most important thing--probably the only important thing. Whether you need to take a class is a personal choice, and you probably won't know if you need it until you've tried making a few movie-quality matte paintings on your own.

It is probably worth visiting the websites of any production studios you can find, to see what they require for applying to the position you have in mind. That should give you an idea of where you need to be at, skill-wise and portfolio-wise, before it's worth applying.
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henrik
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:56 am     Reply with quote
Hi Petri,

I run a matte painting and concept design studio in London and often recruit artists of all sorts. I have also worked in the US. Here's what I think:

1. Like Sumaleth said, portfolio is the most important thing. Higher education, for the most part, is not essential. Personality and ability to work with others is equally important.

2. When I look at potential hires, I want to see that they understand the process without needs of extensive training. Pipeline changes between companies, but the fundamentals don't. Matte painting (especially) is very different from concept design and requires more technical knowledge and a wider understanding of a post production pipeline. I'd expect my matte painters to be able to jump in and start on projects quickly. A few years in a smaller studio as a matte painter is not a bad idea.

3. I would not consider hiring a concept artist with only very quick sketches or games concepts in his portfolio. To be considered for a matte painting position, I need to see very good finishing skills on a consistent level. You have to remember that matte paintings are finished images and should be of the highest standard.

3. Do you need to go to the US? Considerably harder getting a US visa compared to working in other parts of the world. There's a lot of film production of very high quality in many parts of the world these days.
If US is the place you want to work, education is essential for H-1B visas. For 0-1 there are other criteria you need to fulfill.

Hope this is useful to you,
H
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Petri.J
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 12:36 pm     Reply with quote
henrik wrote:
Hi Petri,

I run a matte painting and concept design studio in London and often recruit artists of all sorts. I have also worked in the US. Here's what I think:

1. Like Sumaleth said, portfolio is the most important thing. Higher education, for the most part, is not essential. Personality and ability to work with others is equally important.

2. When I look at potential hires, I want to see that they understand the process without needs of extensive training. Pipeline changes between companies, but the fundamentals don't. Matte painting (especially) is very different from concept design and requires more technical knowledge and a wider understanding of a post production pipeline. I'd expect my matte painters to be able to jump in and start on projects quickly. A few years in a smaller studio as a matte painter is not a bad idea.


Seems like there are many companies in England that do matte paintings, but its difficult to tell the size of those companies just by looking at their website.
You have already helped a lot, but could you point me some small companies that you would recommend? A place where I could gain some experience and learn the pipeline.


henrik wrote:

3. I would not consider hiring a concept artist with only very quick sketches or games concepts in his portfolio. To be considered for a matte painting position, I need to see very good finishing skills on a consistent level. You have to remember that matte paintings are finished images and should be of the highest standard.

3. Do you need to go to the US? Considerably harder getting a US visa compared to working in other parts of the world. There's a lot of film production of very high quality in many parts of the world these days.
If US is the place you want to work, education is essential for H-1B visas. For 0-1 there are other criteria you need to fulfill.

Hope this is useful to you,
H


This was very helpful. Thank you both.
I will start painting my matte portfolio. I'm planning to post those matte paintings in cgtalk and when they start ending up in front page, I'm good enough to start applying to those small companies and learn more about that pipeline.
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T_England
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:06 am     Reply with quote
Yeah there is a lot of post production companies in London, one way in if you don't have a matte painting portfolio is applying for runner positions. With a basis of concept art and painting skills there is a good chance they could introduce you into a matte paint role and you would gain a understanding of the film process. That said it would be low paid, involve making cups of tea, being a runner basically. A hell of a lot of guys in film got in as runners though.
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Petri.J
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:36 am     Reply with quote
T_England wrote:
Yeah there is a lot of post production companies in London, one way in if you don't have a matte painting portfolio is applying for runner positions. With a basis of concept art and painting skills there is a good chance they could introduce you into a matte paint role and you would gain a understanding of the film process. That said it would be low paid, involve making cups of tea, being a runner basically. A hell of a lot of guys in film got in as runners though.


No Im not going to be a runner, the portfolio will be ready when the time comes Very Happy
Although Ive been giving a thought about what henrik said about learning pipeline fundamentals. Now I cant afford a school that lasts many years, but I found a school that has intensive courses that teach you exactly what I want to know in three months.

http://www.escapestudios.co.uk/find-a-compositing-course/
On week eight they even go through the pipelines of five large studios in england, a good way to see how the big boys get the job done.
Downside is that course costs roughly 11 000 euros + accommodation + living.

http://www.escapestudios.co.uk/compositing-courses/
There is also an evening course that costs 3200 euros + accommodation + living.
But Im not really sure how they compare.
Would it be enough if I take the evening course and do homework during the days?
Hmm..
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henrik
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:43 am     Reply with quote
Petri,

Just to make it clear, the courses you're looking at are great, but not necessarily matte painting courses. They are compositing courses mainly using Nuke. They'll teach you everything you need to know about a compositing pipeline (and a post production pipeline in general I'd think). But the main problem is that they still don't teach you how to do matte paintings. It's not just about painting pictures.

I know the school and many of the directors/teachers there. It's a good place, lots of people go there and end up in post production. (Plus Escape is very close to where I live).

When I look for matte painters, I'd expect junior guys to know the following:

1. How to paint and how to composite photographic elements.
2. Understanding SD, HD, film and how the images need to work at a a certain resolution.
2. Good knowledge of perspective.
3. Understanding, on a basic level, how compositing works.
4. Understanding green screens, keying and parallax.
5. Understanding cameras and lenses. Focal lengths, shutter speeds, aperture etc.
6. Curves and grading.
7. Clean matting, colour ranges roto etc.
8. Basic 3D/modeling/lighting/rendering.


For a more mid/senior level I expect (in addition to the above):

1. Expert knowledge of colour/grade/curve control.
2. Good knowledge of cameras and lenses.
3. HDRI, both 2D and 3D.
4. Good knowledge of general 3D, and also camera projections and setup.
5. Perfect mattes/roto.
6. Good knowledge of compositing. Either of these would work: Nuke, AE, Flame, Combustion, Composite etc.
7. Colour spaces.
8. Capable of estimating workload and asses production status at various stages.

When you understand the junior requirements, I'd say you're ready for work.

Hope this helps,
H
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henrik
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:51 am     Reply with quote
Basically I'm saying that painting nice looking image does not equal matte painting. But I'm not trying to discourage you, not at all. You just need to understand that it's a big difference.

I've seen some fantastic painters who can't do matte painting. I've also seen many terrible painters being fantastic matte painters. And everything in between.

H
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Petri.J
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:42 pm     Reply with quote
henrik wrote:
Basically I'm saying that painting nice looking image does not equal matte painting. But I'm not trying to discourage you, not at all. You just need to understand that it's a big difference.

I've seen some fantastic painters who can't do matte painting. I've also seen many terrible painters being fantastic matte painters. And everything in between.

H


You are absolutely right, so I created a matte painting course for my self. Smile
http://selfdirectedmattepaintingcourse.blogspot.com/

I have a list of requirements, and a list of exercises to help me get there. I will post all progress there and update the exercises list when I learn more of what is required from a matte painter.
I hope this blog helps anyone who is trying to get in to movie industry.
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Petri.J
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:00 pm     Reply with quote
henrik wrote:
Petri,

Just to make it clear, the courses you're looking at are great, but not necessarily matte painting courses. They are compositing courses mainly using Nuke. They'll teach you everything you need to know about a compositing pipeline (and a post production pipeline in general I'd think). But the main problem is that they still don't teach you how to do matte paintings. It's not just about painting pictures.

I know the school and many of the directors/teachers there. It's a good place, lots of people go there and end up in post production. (Plus Escape is very close to where I live).

When I look for matte painters, I'd expect junior guys to know the following:

1. How to paint and how to composite photographic elements.
2. Understanding SD, HD, film and how the images need to work at a a certain resolution.
2. Good knowledge of perspective.
3. Understanding, on a basic level, how compositing works.
4. Understanding green screens, keying and parallax.
5. Understanding cameras and lenses. Focal lengths, shutter speeds, aperture etc.
6. Curves and grading.
7. Clean matting, colour ranges roto etc.
8. Basic 3D/modeling/lighting/rendering.

When you understand the junior requirements, I'd say you're ready for work.

Hope this helps,
H


A little update here..
I started a Composition for production course in Escape Studios just last week Smile
According to the course schedule it teaches everything from above EXCEPT:
1. How to paint.
2. Good knowledge of perspective. (books and practice can teach me this though)
And I'm not quite sure how extensively we will go through cameras and lenses.
8. Basic 3D/modeling/lighting/rendering. (this I already know.)

I don't expect that my first job would be doing matte paintings. It will most probably be doing roto, but I guess you have to start from the bottom when changing industry even though games and films share quite a lot.
Working in a small company would definitely benefit my future plans since there I probably could do a bit everything and that way learn the whole process.

I'm not 100% sure of what I will include in my showreel. I guess I'll have to do at least two of them. One for small companies that will show everything I can do and one for large companies that show only what is required of junior compositor or roto artist.
I'm sure of one thing though. I have to decide if I'm applying for compositing or straight to matte painting because I will not have enough time to do reels for both.

Cheers, Petri J.
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T_England
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:30 pm     Reply with quote
Hey,

Great stuff man cool to hear your moving forward in the masterplan Very Happy. How you finding it in London? I live close by to escape studios in Putney just over the river.

Did you opt for the evening class or the fulltime one? I was considering doing the evening class some time back but opted instead to go into 12 hours a week of life drawing and painting at the local art school since my portfolio is lacking in that aspect, and i think concept art is where i really want to be. I was very tempted though i gotta say.
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Petri.J
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:12 am     Reply with quote
T_England wrote:
Hey,

Great stuff man cool to hear your moving forward in the masterplan Very Happy. How you finding it in London? I live close by to escape studios in Putney just over the river.

Did you opt for the evening class or the fulltime one? I was considering doing the evening class some time back but opted instead to go into 12 hours a week of life drawing and painting at the local art school since my portfolio is lacking in that aspect, and i think concept art is where i really want to be. I was very tempted though i gotta say.


At first coming to london felt like jumping to the deep end of the pool, but now I'm settling in and learning to say please, thank you or sorry mate in every conversation Very Happy
London is a cool place! Last weekend I had some time to take the tube to downtown and just walk around. You really can see the long history of this city from those dark and gritty allies. I have to go back there sometime and browse more of those cool allies.

I'm doing the 12 weeks fulltime course because that felt like the best option for me.
The compositing software we use there is called Nuke, we have been through only two weeks and we are already going through Nukes low level math operations and expressions. For some classmates this seems to be a bit too intensive course, luckily I'm a technical artist so I have no problems with math on this very basic level. Razz
I'm looking forward to next week and tracking.

Cheers mate, Petri J Smile
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T_England
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:21 pm     Reply with quote
Haha seriously there's been times where I walked right into someone and they say sorry as if it was there fault for not moving out the way Confused But yeah pretty vast, its a mix of a long history like you say. One thing you wont see is forests haha.

I can see how that logic and maths aspect could get heavy pretty quick for people new to it, i imagine it gives you a lot of control over what your comping. I sometimes see those maths and logic operations used in shaders and stuff in unreal editor and maya. like a fine balance between a really good eye and a solid brain. Interesting stuff man.

Cheers!
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Petri.J
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:08 am     Reply with quote
Btw, I found a book about Mattepainting that was released just last week. I just ordered it and I can write some short review of it after reading.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+Digital+Matte+Painting+Handbook&x=0&y=0
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T_England
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:53 am     Reply with quote
Cool that would be interesting. I often hear about this one. Looking at it seems to talk a lot about the origins and the old school methods.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Art-Legends-Movie-Painting/dp/081184515X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/104-6772899-4861563?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1187286741&sr=8-2

Its out of print and really expensive though, I've flicked through those ballistic publishing ones before and they seem very practical and well done, also pricey
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