Interview with Mai-Anh Tran, matte painter and concept artist at Rodeo FX // LISAA Alumni
Mai-Anh Tran, graduate from LISAA Paris in 3-D Animation in 2013, is a matte painter and concept artist at Rodeo FX in Canada. She participated in Deadpool and worked on the Game of Thrones series, the sixth season of which has just been released. Mai-Anh and her team received two Emmy Awards for their visual effects work on season four!
LISAA: CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE LAST PROJECT YOU WORKED ON?
Mai-Anh: My last project was Space Between Us, a film directed by Peter Chelsom. On this project I was in charge of the decor of a whole sequence of a spaceship taking off – which was about 30 shots. From going through the clouds to the stratosphere right up to space, the entire decor was done in matte painting. In a sequence in which we follow the spaceship, the matte painting of planets and skies must be reflected, as the direction of the light, the types of clouds and the scale of the clouds must be coherent depending on the altitude and speed of the spaceship.
Given the deadlines, we had to be quite quick and efficient on this project. But I loved this work and the end result with CG is superb!
WHAT EXACTLY DOES YOUR WORK CONSIST OF?
I am a concept artist and matte painter at RodeoFX in Canada. My role is to conceive or create film decors that must be “invisible” – which means that they must be as photorealistic as possible.
Several jobs exist in this profession. Here are some examples:
- Set extension: you have a view and you must extend the décor, which has to blend perfectly into this view.
- When a view is entirely filmed on a green screen, you can create a decor using 2-D matte painting, which will then be projected onto the 3-D.
- When there is a full CG decor, matte painting consists of also painting the 3-D to make it photorealistic, by adding details, textures and integrating items between them.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST PROJECT?
The project that I am most proud to have worked on is Deadpool. Not only do I love the comic world, but the jobs that I had were particularly interesting and creative. I had the opportunity to do concept art and matte painting for the final fight scene, for the design for Marrow Bones, Worn and for the texture of Wade Wilson’s burnt skin.
The project that I am most proud to have worked on is Deadpool
Mai-Anh Tran, LISAA 2013 alumnus, Matte Painter and Concept artist at RodeoFX
I had to create bones growing out of the skin of a woman, a metal mask embedded into skin after an operation, and a mutated skin inspired by mouldy fruit and rotten meat! I had to forget about the disturbing side of reference research to design the concepts, which allowed my imagination to run free and for me to have fun suggesting increasingly disturbing designs!
Game of Thrones was also one of the best projects I have worked on. As a matte painter, I love fantasy, medieval and epic worlds! I was dealt a good hand with Game of Thrones!
As a matte painter, I love fantasy, medieval and epic worlds! I was dealt a good hand with Game of Thrones!
Mai-Anh Tran, LISAA 2013 alumnus
CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CAREER PATH?
I discovered matte painting during the project “Rain”, on which I worked in the second year of 3-D Animation at LISAA. To further my knowledge and specialise in matte paining, I learnt a lot by working on personal projects with help from one of my friends, Yannick Tan, who gave me advice and guided me in my learning.
Then I created a demo reel specialising in decor and matte painting. I recommend that students create a portfolio targeting the field in which they are most proficient, are always motivated and work a lot, as it’s through practice that we improve.
I recommend that students [...] are always motivated and work a lot, as it’s through practice that we improve
Mai-Anh Tran, LISAA 2013 alumnus
I was ready to travel abroad to work, so in my third year of 3-D, I sent an application off to every production studio that I was interested in. That’s how I was able to do a summer work placement for two months at Logan TV in New York. At the end of my fourth year at LISAA, I found an end of studies work placement at Stargate Studio in Malta. Following this second work placement abroad, I was able to leave for Canada to work for RodeoFX as a matte painted and concept artist. I am now into my third year at this company.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PROJECTS?
I’m planning on staying in the cinema and video game industry. I plan to continue to discover new software and to advance – as there is always more to learn!