Matte painting is something I have seen frequently over and over again and just have now finally gotten around to trying. With a background in Graphic Design, it’s extremely easy to manipulate a photo and basically put anything you want, where you want, and have people not know the difference between real and fake. With that thought in mind, I wanted to know the same way on how to do manipulation but with video. So after a little bit of research and some YouTubing, I went after a quick matte painting that I thought would work to get my point across.
First, I took a quick wide angel, panning shot from work of the highway, background, etc. I brought that clip into After Effects, cut down what I wanted to paint my background in and then tracked the camera using the “Track Camera” setting. I adjusted the settings a bit to match a camera pan, and then once all the nodes were revealed, selected a section that I thought would fit for where I wanted to insert my background.
Once I had that section selected, I did a “Add Camera and Solid” to see if the solid would stick to the background (it did!) and then after I had my solid in place of where I wanted it, I removed it and froze the frame. I exported the frame out into Photoshop and from there opened up an image of a mountain I had gotten from Google…cut out the mountain, and dropped it into the video frame I had saved.
Now in the video frame file, I rotated, scaled and adjusted the mountain to fit how I would want. I trimmed off some excess mountain, interfering with my frame and then deleted the frozen frame image so that I was left with the mountain on a transparent background. I saved the file and then imported it back into After Effects as a PSD File and then placed it into my footage. My file. once placed, fit perfectly where I had left it in Photoshop to the background of my video, but that might not always be the case.
From there, I parented the mountain file to the camera so that it would share it’s position and tracking. I then duplicated the mountain and made it into a 3D Layer and repositioned it so that it would match my 2D mountain. Once I had the 3D mountain in position, I removed the 2D mountain, moved the slider and BOOM, mountain stuck to background. Now a little tinkering here and there to bring out some of the trees, the clouds, and by all means is this not perfect but it was enough to get what I wanted done.
Matte Painting is nice because it always for you to set a scene for a place that isn’t actually real or possible for you. For instance, you’re looking at Akron, Ohio and if you didn’t know that, you might be thinking you are looking at a city in Colorado. From there you could then bring the camera up close to your actors and the background is forgotten but the mood and visual of where your characters are still resonates inside the viewer. I hope to be using this in a couple more videos to come!