VFX Notes: The art of matte painting and invisible VFX with Craig Barron

A look back at the old-school days of matte painting, and the new digital realm.

On the latest VFX Notes podcast, Ian Failes from befores & afters and Hugo Guerra from Hugo’s Desk are joined by Craig Barron. Barron is creative director at Magnopus, and previously worked as an assistant in the matte painting department at ILM, and was co-founder and visual effects supervisor at Matte World Digital. Barron won a VFX Oscar for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and was also nominated for a VFX Oscar for Batman Returns.

We discuss what those original days of matte painting in the optical era were like, and how the transition to digital happened. You might recall we discussed Matte World Digital’s work on Zodiac, amongst other films, in a previous ep.

This episode is sponsored by ActionVFX’s Black Friday sale. The ActionVFX Black Friday Sale begins November 25th at 8PM EST and will end on December 3rd at 11:59 PM EST. All VFX elements in the library will be 55% off the first 24 hours, & 50% off the remaining days of the sale. All Annual Subscription Plans (Individual & Studio Plans) purchased during the sale will receive 2x the amount of monthly elements. Learn more here.

Listen in at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify, or below. And don’t forget to watch the visual podcast below with a ton of behind the scenes material.

Run down

00:00:00 – Intro
00:04:30 – David Fincher and DVD extras
00:05:35 – Craig’s career
00:08:16 – Ray Harryhausen and influences
00:12:08 – Matte paintings in The Empire Strikes Back
00:18:13 – Physically correct vs artistic direction
00:32:07 – Matte paintings in Batman Returns
00:34:12 – Casino and the radiosity rendering
00:43:37 – 3D projections in Zodiac
00:55:02 – Blade Runner VR
00:59:48 – The Criterion collection and history
01:07:05 – Patreon, Twitch Subs and YouTube members credits

Show notes

Matte World Digital’s archived website.

New Criterion Collection Citizen Kane 4K release, featuring a program on the film’s special effects by film scholars and effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt.

Magnopus projects page.

3 Replies to “VFX Notes: The art of matte painting and invisible VFX with Craig Barron

  1. I agree with Bruno, it’s so much fun watching these guys showing their stories and skills. 🙂
    Keep up the good work Ian!!

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