Digital Animation and Effects

Mathieu Raynault

“Matte Painter” – Rodeo FX

Matte Painting from Montreal to Hollywood!

View the presentation [In French]

There is a strong trend now among film producers to avoid the costs of building a physical set for their large-scale scenery, and, whenever possible, to rely instead on matte painting by computer. As well as saving producers money, this technique lets them create the kind of background that a set designer could only dream of: the futuristic cities of “Star Wars,” for example; the aerial views of nineteenth-century Manhattan in “Gangs Of New York”; or the stunning castles and landscapes of Middle Earth in “The Lord of the Rings.” Matte painting has established itself as the best solution for producers who want to transfer visually ambitious ideas onto the big screen. But employing the technique properly requires a rare type of expertise in the field of digital effects, and the number of artists who have the right skills and talent for the job is quite low. Even on major film productions like “The Lord of the Rings” or “King Kong,” which had around four hundred artists working on digital effects, the matte painting department was a micro-team of just five people. But these specialists were a unique group assembled from all over the world as a collaboration among elite talents in the art of digital filmmaking.

After ten years in the FX business as a Digital Matte Painter, Mathieu’s feature-film credits are impressive, to say the least. One of the most sought-after artists of his generation, he’s had a hand in some of the most acclaimed visual-effects triumphs of recent years, from the Star Wars films to the Lord of the Rings and Matrix trilogies. He’s even been part of Academy-Award-winning special effects teams—three times, most recently for the 2005 King Kong movie. In 2006 Mathieu co-founded the VFX studio RODEO FX in Montreal, Canada.