The cinematography was not just a means of entertainment, but also a cause of new ideas. This article examines the history of matte painting in film, explains the advantages of this technique, shows it in action, and determines how effective it is when working with architectural and constructing companies’ projects.
How to transform reality with a painter’s hand
Most films need many different backgrounds to bring their stories to life, and there is not always an opportunity to shoot a romantic sunset if it happens to be raining outside.Weather concerns aside, what if a character needed to be seen jetting into space or descending into hell, how would a film crew realistically shoot that?
The solution was not to settle for different landscapes that couldn’t do the story justice, but to paint the landscapes instead. To do this film crews hired special painters whom they called matte painters or matte artists.
The first instance of using the method of matte painting refers to the 1900s when film director Norman Dawn was shooting Missions of California. He decided to refine the cracked buildings of missioners’ residencies. To achieve this effect the crew would apply images on glass, and then set the glass before the camera so that part of the picture stayed clear as they filmed the scene.
After successfully filming the scene, Mr. Dawn decided to improve the technique. The section on which they needed to apply a specific background was painted black. This blocked out part of the scene during filming, and then later in a studio the background was painted in and placed on the blocked-out parts of the shots.
Nowadays, the areas on which film crews plan to use matte painting are shot on a sole colored background, most commonly green or blue. The color can be various, as long as it’s not the same color as the image that needs to be applied. Afterwards, they place the necessary background over the colored background to complete the scene.