Mickaël Forrett's Matte Painting Breakdown 'HORIZON' is Truly Out of this World

Wherever there are vast alien landscapes to be explored, intimidating medieval castles to be stormed or physics defying dreamscapes to be traversed you'll find the matte painters, those unsung heroes of imagination hard at work bringing form to thought. If you've never had the need to work side by side with a matte painter it's likely that the complexity of the role may be lost on you, however after watching Mickaël MEO Forrett's impressive video breakdown for his imagined world HORIZON that should all change:

In case you missed it whilst your jaw was dropping, to create HORIZON's 27 second shot, Forrett went from crude sketches to matte painting with photos and paint, threw in a little camera projection mapping and 3d model animation before bringing it all together with a spot of colour correction and composition. He achieved all this singlehandedly using a toolkit comprising Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, Autodesk Maya and Mudbox and The Foundry's Nuke over 5 months including his graphical research time.

All of which took him from this:

to this:

Amazing work, but I can't help but shudder at the idea of having to repeat that process enough times to cover the amount of shots needed by a feature!

If there are any effects breakdowns which have blown you away recently let us know in the comments?


[via fubiz]

Your Comment


I've always been amazed by the Matte painting work on Bladerunner. And off topic, the model work as well. Those men were brilliant, and before the aid of computing. Mickaël Forrett's work on Horizon is stunning!

June 12, 2012 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Damn. That's some amazing work to be sure. Bravo!

Now if THAT guy wants to talk about how he's disappointed by the lack of Mac Pro update, let him! That said, if it took him 5 months to complete that means he was doing the work on a system at least 5+ months old, or realistically older, so everyone can quit complaining about NEEDing the latest and greatest thing and if you don't get it you're switching to something else [taking your ball and going home].

Seriously though, stunning work, regardless of what hardware was used.

June 12, 2012 at 9:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


There is a Vimeo group dedicated to VFX breakdowns, lots of matte paintings breakdowns as well as breakdowns of other VFX techniques: https://vimeo.com/groups/breakdowngroup

June 12, 2012 at 10:02AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Great call on the group Jan, that one had completely passed me by. Cheers!

June 12, 2012 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


It is so amazing and reminds me of the artwork of the 70's magazine in the UK called Science Fiction Monthly and paperback book covers.
I have no idea how to do all this :(

June 12, 2012 at 10:07AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Colin T Head


But (why is there always a but :( ) I felt the depth of field in the final composite unfortunately stopped it from feeling real. The cliff in the middle distance is slightly defocused, when it should be perceptually as sharp as things at infinity. Made the whole thing feel a little small for me.

I don't like to have spent more time criticising than praising - the amount to be praised here massively, massively outweighs that issue!

June 12, 2012 at 4:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


incredible work - matt painting is amazing

June 13, 2012 at 10:38AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Great job on the piece. Great matte paintings have always impressed me. I am particularly impressed by Dylan Cole. For me, what makes Dylan's work remarkable is that he paints EVERYTHING from scratch. No photos. Just paint. He is one of the few remaining matte artists whose process remains so pure. And for that, his work, and their breakdowns, blows me away.

June 14, 2012 at 7:06PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Looks like the Canadian Rockies from 1000 feet, shot from my little Cessna.....made me homesick. Matte painting is an olde art. Our animation stand used to shoot 36 field for maps. Looking at it and then the animated aircraft - it could be happening now in a undiscovered valley....:)

June 14, 2012 at 8:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Very good Quality work, but a bit busy?

October 7, 2012 at 8:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Dylan does use photos, he often paints over a photograph initially, and then adds photographs, or sketches first.

Pretty much all matte painters use photographs these days, with the critical eye of the viewer, and high definition, matte painters can't afford for something to not look completely photo real.

June 4, 2014 at 1:38PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM