CG Explorer Home
home · guide · archive · about · contact

VFX Making-of: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Matte Painting and Visual Effects by Matte World Digital

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Matte World Digital created an entire computer-generated version of New York city. The virtual camera icon allowed to pan around to select the angle that the Film Director desired.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Matte World Digital created an entire computer-generated version of New York city. The virtual camera allowed to pan around to select the angle that the Film Director desired.

Matte World Digital shows a detailed set of examples of some of the visual effects shots they have been in charge for the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“.

The feature film is based on a F. Scott Fitzgerald short story and directed by David Fincher (who directed among the others: Fight Club, Se7en, Alien 3, Panic Room).

In the web page I am going to share with you there is an effective summary of the film’s plot:

Button is born old and ages backwards toward youth. His “reverse life story” told throughout the 20th century, required sets and visual effects to create periods and places ranging from post-Armistice New Orleans, to New York of the 1930s-40s, to postwar Paris, and back to 21st-century New Orleans at the onset of Hurricane Katrina.

Digital Matte Painting serves the purpose of extending a set or to re-create one when is not possible to shoot on location. In this context DMP provide a strong support to the Production Design in recreating past times and past locations.

After effectively recreating 1970s-era San Francisco for Fincher’s Zodiac in 2007, Matte World Digital was called upon to conjure up the past once more. “I have come to rely on you so heavily for all my time traveling needs,” said Fincher towards the end of production on Benjamin Button. In 2009, MWD visual effects supervisor Craig Barron won an Academy Award for Achievement in Visual Effects, along with a team of experts who make the past “real.”

These three pages set-up by Matte World Digital are precious learning resources for aspiring Matte Painters because if carefully observed they allow to make some useful comments on the art and craft of Matte Painting.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. VFX by Matte World Digital: "The physical clock was never built for set. We created it digitally and composited it into every shot where it appears. This had several benefits, including the ability to set the time after the scenes were edited, and the clock face could also be aged over the years."

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. VFX by Matte World Digital: "The physical clock was never built for set. We created it digitally and composited it into every shot where it appears. This had several benefits, including the ability to set the time after the scenes were edited, and the clock face could also be aged over the years."

Some critical thinking about the art and the craft of Matte Painting (and compositing)

Here are some tasks and activities carried on by Matte World Digital during this work

  • A Digital Matte Painter is not involved only in environment creation. In this case, for instance, the first shot is about creating digitally a clock to be composited.
  • As in the 3D version of New York City the Matte Painting allowed to choose the camera angle and composition before the actual “shooting”.
  • Aerial views of cities (as in “Paris”)
  • DMP is used to extend sets by matching the plate lighting through physically accurate 3D lighting and rendering.
  • Removing objects, people and transportation devices
  • Recreating weather conditions as snow, rain
  • Recreating lighting conditions as daylight or nightlight

Links and resources

Hey Digital Painters and Digital Matte Painters what have you learned from the Visual Effects of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

1 person likes this post.

2 Responses to “VFX Making-of: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Matte Painting and Visual Effects by Matte World Digital”

  1. virtual worlds online for kids Says:

    It is great to see how much technology can influence the movie industries and the clock is indeed a stunner ! Wicked .

  2. vanessa deNard Says:

    I enjoy fantacy and epic, adult stories. I purchased this DVD on 2/1/11, and I’ve probably watched it six times since the purchase. I finally decided there must be some information that tells of the making of the film.

    Thank you for the great entertainment.

Leave a Reply