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Reload this Page A new website for matte artist Thomas Esmeralda
Artists Showcase Final, Finished Work Only (NO WIP, NO Critique)

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tesmeralda is Offline
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Default 03-02-2005, 06:18 PM

Thanks tobiasth, satch, and smooth for your kudos and questions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by smooth
Wow. Very nice.
Curious...among the ten years you've been painting professionally...how long have you been using Photoshop for your mattes?
Can you post some high-res photos of your work.
I've been using Photoshop since 1998 (starting with PS 4.0). I give some mention about crossing over to digital painting in my Artist Bio, but here's a little more info for you: Production on The Prince of Epyt was beginning to wind down, and the Artist Development people at Dreamworks started offering PS classes to anyone interested. My fellow BG painters didn't really understand why I was taking these classes (keep in mind that I worked with a very hard-core painting group that would go on outdoor painting trips at lunch & on weekends). After four classes I basically gave up on PS because I still couldn't replicate the things I could do with real paint & brushes.

Fast forward to spring 1998 when I transfered to PDI where I now had to know PS. One of the senior painters on ANTZ, Steve Albert, got me up to speed. My learning curve was steep, but Steve did a great job with me since he knew what was going through my head having already made the transition to digital months ahead of me (Steve also painted traditional BG's on POE).

I'll put up a couple hi res images tomorrow; any specific one you have in mind?


Thomas Esmeralda | Digital Matte Artist

website at: www.digitalscenics.com
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smooth is Offline
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Default 03-02-2005, 06:41 PM

Yeah I finally realized that pursuing the arts as a living is possible..so I kinda woke up am saw the light (despite other people's 2cents and my brainwashing of art's as a "hobby"). I can kinda relate to your online bio. It's good to hear success stories like that. Let's see if mine plays out similar. :) Currently a Shake Compositor for broadcast, working my way to matte painter for film.-hopefully. :D

Knowing the web comes in handy in promoting oneself. Alot of artists haven't taken advantage of it.
You can always try Dreamweaver from Macromedia- the best back in the days I was doing it. But it's good to know html raw hand coded too because those apps don't always give you what you expect.
If you need help with your site let me know, i'd be happy to. Maybe you can help me with some critiques of my mattes down the line :)
Still working on getting some done and getting it up online.

+smooth+
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tesmeralda is Offline
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Default 03-02-2005, 07:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by homer
Nice web site and great portfolio.

I had a question, since you have been working on animation as well as live action,
Which one did you find more rewarding?
Or what were the differences? (Freedom, speed, limitation…)
Ready for a loaded answer? First of all, I've worked almost entirely on Animated Features (like a 4 to 1 ratio, altough the live-action projects are catching up). Secondly, I've been trying to fight the "animation background painter" label for so long now that I almost didn't recognize the huge wave that is "The Golden Age of Computer Animated Features".

. . . are you with me still?

Here's some facts (imho): Animation is rewarding artistically because everything starts from scratch, and that gives artists & designers free reign to set up everything (lighting, color, mood, atmosphere) the way they see fit. Ever walk through the Visual Development/Art Department at an animation studio like Disney, Dreamworks, or Pixar (or looked through any "Art of" books)? It's candy for an artist. And the cool thing about the candy is that there is a good chance it will actually translate to final film.

Live Action is a different kind of reward: It's fun to play the role of magician! The reward comes from fooling the audience, but it's very challenging. You are restricted by a lot of factors: How good the photography (orginal plate photography) is, the amount of reality you are trying to create, and the ever-present problem of time. In live action speed is the name of the game, and "they" want it faster every time!

So, what's my answer? I don't know yet. The pace of live action took me by surprise, but if you can handle the speed it's a lot of fun - the turn-around time to the big screen is quick! Additionally, for myself, it's acknowledgement that I'm not only an animation BG painter. However, animated features are becoming more cinematic. The Incredibles! Even that last thing I worked on . . .

And yet again, look at where live action has gone: LOTR, Matrix, Sky Captain ? Do matte paintings need to look "photoreal" anymore?? Does anyone care??? [This discusssion came up while I was working on Riddick: The audiences love the "fantastic"]

This is why I ultimately don't have an answer for you yet, because the real question we should be asking is this: Is there a difference between live action and animation?

. . . go ahead and marinate on that for a little bit.


Thomas Esmeralda | Digital Matte Artist

website at: www.digitalscenics.com
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Default 03-02-2005, 10:12 PM

Hello Thomas
Inspiring bio! the backgounds in Prince of Egypt were a huge inspiration for me. In particular, watching the documentary on the dvd with Paul Lasaine painting plein air in death valley was the moment I decided that this was what I wanted to do. still love Paul's work however I rarely see any. wish he would put a website up as well.

excellent work, I look forward to your future posts.


Brenton Cottman

Digital Matte Artist
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tesmeralda is Offline
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Default 03-02-2005, 11:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jensen
I was wondering who painted those mattes in Shrek, and thanks to this forum I can almost personally say, well done!
Thanks Patrick! I feel like I should also point out that I wasn't the only matte artist who had worked on Shrek, although the list of those that did IS a short one: Steve Albert, Tony Halawa, Joe DiCeasre, and myself made up PDI's matte department at the time. Mark Sullivan also painted a few concept paintings that would eventually be turned into finished productions pieces.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jensen
Are you freelancing or currently working at Imageworks?
I took a little break after wrapping on Polar, and just began picking up a little freelance stuff a few weeks ago. This laid back, half-time, stuff will probably be ending soon though ("sigh") since I'm contemplating a few big projects right now . . . May return to Imageworks - maybe . . . .


Thomas Esmeralda | Digital Matte Artist

website at: www.digitalscenics.com
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Default 03-03-2005, 12:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcottman
Hello Thomas
Inspiring bio! the backgounds in Prince of Egypt were a huge inspiration for me. In particular, watching the documentary on the dvd with Paul Lasaine painting plein air in death valley was the moment I decided that this was what I wanted to do. still love Paul's work however I rarely see any. wish he would put a website up as well.
Glad to hear you found my bio inspiring. A funny thing about POE is that I continue to hear accolades about the backgrounds from both artists & non-artsits alike. I guess good work holds up over time.

Oh, and about that POE dvd with Paul painting in Death Valley . . . Did you know why Paul & Ron (the other co-head of backgrounds) went to Death Valley? Because the studio didn't send them on the research trip to Egypt (good thing the heads of story went though ...) On top of that, they had to babysit the rest of us BG painters (all 15 of us at the time)! We actually had a great time out there although we didn't get much painting done - it's hard to mix paint when sandstorms keep kicking up.

Good luck trying to find more of Paul's work; he has a few things on one of the LOTR dvd's, but it's not clearly pointed out. I was lucky to have seen his LOTR portfolio when he had just come back from NZ, so I kinda knew what to look for. You (nor the rest of the world) probably don't know this, but he had a lot to do with the look of LOTR. Unfortunately, for reasons I don't want to go into, this will never be known. LOTR served Paul very well career-wise, though, and his transition into art direction is now fairly complete: He's now a Production Designer!

One more production note: The 1st painting of the North Pole "City" in the Polar section of my site was basically done by Paul (before he accepted his current P.D. title). I sliced his painting up, painted some more over his original, and then camera mapped it onto some simple geometry. I'll be adding descriptions throughout my site, for paintings like that, in the near future. Thanks again for your comments & questions.


Thomas Esmeralda | Digital Matte Artist

website at: www.digitalscenics.com
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Default 03-03-2005, 05:07 PM

Hi Thomas,

Great work and website layout is cool. Like everyone else, POE work is top notch....the paltettes are awesome. The Polar Express had some really stunning matte paintings...the art of PE book is great! The link on D & D page still doesn't work (just so ya know). I went to the Academy of Art also, in their MFA program. I think its grown alot in last few years but still has some issues to work out.

Look forward to future postings from ya. Your comments on everyone else's postings was very insightful.

-Eric
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Default 03-03-2005, 07:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boof
Hi Thomas,

Great work and website layout is cool. Like everyone else, POE work is top notch....the paltettes are awesome. The Polar Express had some really stunning matte paintings...the art of PE book is great! The link on D & D page still doesn't work (just so ya know). I went to the Academy of Art also, in their MFA program. I think its grown alot in last few years but still has some issues to work out.

Look forward to future postings from ya. Your comments on everyone else's postings was very insightful.

-Eric
Thanks for the kind words Boof. The D & D link doesn't work on purpose (kind of ...) Not really proud of that work, but they make for great background images for the web (haha). I should just put up a blank pop-up window that reads "coming soon".

I began pursuing an MFA at the Academy a couple years ago, but only got through 1 semester. Ronn Brown (an ex-ILM matte artist) had just taken over the digital program there, and got me excited about upgrading my digital skills. Alas, the Academy is, well . . . the Academy so I never enrolled for the next semester. Hope you gained something from your program!


Thomas Esmeralda | Digital Matte Artist

website at: www.digitalscenics.com
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Default 03-03-2005, 07:56 PM

Okay, here's a hi res image from Polar Exress:

It's a reveal of the North Pole "City". The bulk of the work on this shot was split between myself and Josh Geisler, one of the staff matte artists at Imageworks. We also re-used building textures that Josh & I had created along with two other texture artists that were "loaned" to the matte department (the talented Alan Gonzoles and Eric Mcleane).

- The inner square (Christmas tree, compass floor, elves, inner most rowof buildings inlucing the arch) are CG (not us)
- I was in charge of painting the sky & "ice lake"; outer city lights were done by Josh & me
- The rest of the buildings, the "set extension" directly behind the inner CG square were the re-used lo-res buildings + camera mapped textures
(Josh created the foreground building, screen left - also camera mapped)



This next one is a shot from the "Ticket Ride" sequence. I was responsible for shots 1 and 2 (with Eric M. assisting again) which follows the train ticket as it travels (seemingly) everywhere it possibly could - each of these shots were roughly 1000 frames in length. Whew, if you did the math, that's a lot of screen time! [This actually doesn't present well as a still image because the camera is ALL OVER THE PLACE - check back at my site within a few days for the demo movie].

- The painted layers will appear stretched (mountains taller, etc) in comparison to the actual shot because everything gets mapped on to a series of concentric domes & arches
- Notice how I painted much looser away from screen center; this environment goes by so quick that it made no sense to paint any tighter
- The Bridge, foreground mountains, train, and ticket were CG (not me)



Thomas Esmeralda | Digital Matte Artist

website at: www.digitalscenics.com
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Default 03-03-2005, 08:03 PM

Ivo, Josh and Dave....TRIPLE THREAT.

Love those guys.


Rick Rische
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Digital Matte Artist
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