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This a a real question that we can ask today.

First, there was a post, from a member of the forum Stopmotionanimation, saying that it was a bit sad to have merged the Matte Painting and the Digital Environment category for the VES Awards. It would sign the end of the Art of Matte Painting, and the lost of great talents.
This point seems very important to me. I’m digital matte painter, I never worked on glass or so. I only know digital way to do DMP using Photoshop and a bunch of other tools, but as you have noticed here, I’m a huge fan of Traditional Matte Painting.
I consider Matte painter like Withlock, Green, Dutton or Pangrazio being Incredible Artists, because they were able to paint photoreal images. But today, I consider DMP are more technician, and to be honest, I don’t really like the habit that some people have to consider DMP as the only Artists capable on produce nice images. We all work on the computer today, the Modelers, the DMP, the Texture Artist, the Lighting TD, or the Compositor, and the most important, we all are on the same boat trying to make a movie look good.
We all are technicians in this industry, and digital tools are supposed to help us in the work, not divide people in different groups. We shouldn’t be afraid to consider ourselves like technicians, and if we really want to think about the one who actually make the final shot, that would be the compositor. Technicians are Artists as much as Artists are Technicians. There is no choice to be made between the one or the others.
I think that industry evolved a lot lately, and it’s very common to have more than one person working on a shot, especially now with the Stereo . Most of the environment start with a 3D Asset, or a simple geometry to get the perspective good. A lot of 2D Matte Painting are projected to create a camera move or the stereo.
An environment is no more the result of the only DMP. It includes a lot of of people.
DMP should be exciting about the new technology, should play with amazing tools like Nuke, Mudbox, Mari, Maya, as much as Photoshop. The only important thing is to get the best result for a shot, no matter the technique behind it. So why considering that being more technical is a lost of the Artistic side ? That’s not true ! Being more technical is going further than what could provide a Matte Painter. It’s adding new skills, it helps to be more creative. It’s a bonus for the shot.
It’s completely understandable to merge DMP and Environments today, because it’s the job now. Having a category for each would be a non sense.
We have to be proud to give Awards to people who create Digital Environment, no matter their background, ether if it’s a flat 2D Matte Painting, or if it’s a full CG shot, based on a geometry with texture, a lot of FX, and compositing.

What do you think ?

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