Year 2 Design Discourse 2

  • 1st Year – Try
  • 2nd Year – Experience
  • 3rd Year – Placement
  • 4th Year – Build A Dream

Project: Matte Painting and Environments

We were put into teams of two or three people, for the next two weeks we have been asked to work on a presentation demonstrating our given topic –  my topic is “Matte Painting and Environments” . Presentation duration: 5mins using Harvard Referencing.

So, my teammate and I began firstly by reading our book Matte Painting and Environments; (which was assigned to us by our tutor), we took it in turns at first, but with only one copy between two, I decided I would create a PDF. This solved a problem that if one person had the book, the other would have a PDF copy.

I gathered as much information I could from the book and began taking notes to put on my blog for reference.

Our aims for the presentation are as follows:


By the end of the module students should be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a clear understanding of a variety of practices in the field of interactivity and animation, and the critical approaches to these practices.
  2. Apply theoretical debates to the analysis of primary material and interactive objects related to various industrial and artistic practices.
  3. Present a critical analysis of a single interactive or animated ‘piece’, or practitioner in this field who exhibits an ‘authorial’ approach in their work, via an audio/visual presentation.
  4. Plan and conduct a critical essay, resulting in written work of a high quality.
  5. Demonstrate skills in written and oral communication, the process of research, the organisation of material, and the presentation of informed critical arguments that relate to relevant issues and debates.


(The above information was taken from: I have underlined the important sections that link with the presentation aims; and have also crossed out one section that relates to the essay (only).

These points will help me to structure how I manage my research and highlight important factors of what my goals are?

  • To demonstrate I have a clear understanding of the practices in the field (i am to present) of interaction and animation.
  • To demonstrate skills of oral communication and the presentation of informed critical arguments that relate to relevant issues and debates.
  • Process of research and the organisation of materials, (using Harvard Referencing)


Our plan of action was then to resource artists that work within the field; as the book we were given was only a stepping stone into what we were actually researching. We came across a variety of artists, we decided to research further into the history of Norman Dawn, (1884-1975) a Photographer/Glass Artist. Glass Art is a technique that involved artists painting an early form of VFX on to glass; it was used in the earliest ages of film and  was a method was used to place of a glass in front of the camera for VFX. The Glass Artists would have hurriedly rushed painting on the glass for the scene, whilst the director, actors and camera crew waited. The Glass Artist would have to paint as quickly as possible because the lighting, weather and wind could have changed.

Norman Dawn (1884 – 1975)

The earliest way to create a matte painting was to place a sheet of glass between the camera and the scene to be filmed. An artist could then paint the required set onto the glass between the camera and the scene to be filmed. An artist could then paint the required set onto the glass which would save the cost and impracticality of actually building the set.

This methods was first implemented within the motion picture industry by Norman Dawn.

Norman Dawn in 1905 was working as a still photographer for “The Thorpe Engraving Company” when he was assigned to photograph a house with ugly telephone poles outside, so a colleague suggested he place a sheet of glass between the camera and the house and paint a tree over the telephone pole. This technique was an old to photography, but new to Norman Dawn.

That following year, Norman Dawn made a trip to Paris where he me the “Father of Special Effects”, George Méliès who was the creator of a short film titled: “Le Voyage dans La Lune” (A Trip to the Moon). Having spent much time with Méliès, Dawn returned to America with lots of ideas and a new moving picture camera made by Andre Bebrie. At the time. Dawn had to smuggle his camera into America, via a British ship sailing to New Orleans to avoid being sued by Thomas Edison.

It was in 1907 the Dawn released the first use of  matte painting on film, in California Mission.

George Méliès (1861 -1938)

George Méliès was a French experimenter with the motion pictures, he was the first to film fictional narrative.

A professional magician and manager-director of the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, when the first genuine movies, made by the Lumiere Bros.  were shown in Paris in 1895, the film scenes were from real life, having novelty of motion; however, George Méliès  saw their future potential.

He acquired a camera, built an glass-enclosed studio near Paris, wrote scripts, designed ingenious sets and used actors to film stories. With a magician intuition, he exploited the basic tricks of a camera: stop-motion, slow-motion, dissolve, fade-out, superimposition, and double exposure.

(Information resourced from:

Mathieu Raynault

Mathieu Raynault is known for his impressive matte painting portfolio that includes such notable films as The Lord of the Rings & The Matrix series as well as the Star Wars saga. His latest professional venture cleverly positions him to build on that successful foundation.

After five years at Rodeo FX, the internationally-known studio he co-founded, Mathieu departed in 2011 and launched his own creative studio in Montreal, Canada. Surrounded by a team of artists that forms a small, but highly efficient and fully functional VFX studio, Mathieu can offer great flexibility to his clients. The beauty of this studio support system is that Mathieu can handle the development and integration of complex 3D matte painting assets into full sequences of shots or he can simply act as an extension to a larger studio DMP team delivering assets via Nuke.

(Information taken from:



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