Hi my name is Emilis Baltrusaitis and winning one of the bootcamp internships proved to be one of the most exciting and unexpected twists of my entire year.

Despite having knowingly submitted my work to The Rookies 2015, I did not expect much to come out of it, especially as I’d been extremely rushed and sleep deprived at the time of the submission. I guess this means that if I can do it, there’s no reason that any other applicant looking to get a head start on their career couldn’t either, as long as they apply themselves and work hard!

The first week we mainly spent most of our time learning the essential Double Negative (Dneg) 3D pipeline. We’d been given introductions to Shotgun, Ivy Browser, the Linux systems, and all the other things that allow Dneg to operate smoothly. This involved learning to manage the locations of where to find and put files before/after my part of the pipeline, introductions to the different tools and software packages used by Dneg, and general bits and bobs.

We also received additional training for texturing in Mari and lighting/rendering in Clarisse.  I most enjoyed checking out the current work in progress shots for upcoming movies that Dneg artists were working on.

I’ve spent a lot of additional time reading and watching in-house tutorials on the matte painting pipeline

We were given the opportunity to attend some lectures given by Dneg employees on the topics of lighting, visual narrative, as well as the creation of STIGs and their use in shows. I very much enjoyed hearing the talk on Design and Story Telling. I’ve also spent a lot of additional time reading and watching in-house tutorials on the matte painting pipeline, as this is what interests me the most. The people and atmosphere here are really nice, and so far I can’t wait to learn more.

A few weeks in, we received a lot more specialist training in the fields of effects (fx), rigging, and digital matte painting (dmp), as well as some additional training in the use of Jigsaw from professional artists. This week’s talk was from Ludovic Iochem, who spoke about the matte painting pipeline and evolution over the past several years. This was extremely relevant to what I wanted to do and gave me a better idea of what I should focus on for the next several weeks of my training.

I am more aware of how to make matte paintings more photo real

A month in we were given a small group project to do. I, along with the other 3D trainees had to complete a 2 second shot involving Superman crashing into a building in a city. I was responsible for the matte painting aspect of the shot. Working on the shot as a team and being able to concentrate on the aspects of the shot that personally interested me was really enjoyable. I received some feedback from some of the Dneg matte painters, and I am now slightly more aware of how to make matte paintings more photo real.

Starting work on an actual shot for Spectre has been great… Going to dailies and getting feedback on my work has been very positive

Next we were moved to different rooms and floors as we were put on actual shows, which in my case was Spectre. I’ve been given the task to remove all of the trees from a big establishing shot and paint in the buildings behind them. Starting work on an actual shot for Spectre has been great – it’s fun to realise that my work will actually be featured in the movie, instead of just being an exercise. Going to dailies and getting feedback on my work has also been very positive.

I’ve been offered a contract to stay on as a Matte Painter here at Dneg after the internship is over

A few more weeks in, and I was doing more and more shots that will be included in the entirety of the final sequence for Spectre. I had more tree removal tasks as well as a tricky bit of projection to hide a piece of construction to the side of the House of Parliament in one of the shots. There were loads of moving cars behind it and it gave me a good bit of grief, but the supervisors were satisfied with the work. It was also a challenge to update my first matte painting to be higher quality as a new 4k scan had just come in, but I learned to further improve my technique. I also had a meeting with my artist manager Lucy; I found out that my superiors have been very happy with the work I’ve been doing.

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Getting towards the end of my internship, I’ve been offered a contract to stay on as a Matte Painter here at Dneg after the internship is over. Finding out that I’m being kept on after the internship was a highlight, and I celebrated the fact that I’m not going to be homeless in a month’s time! Yay!

The variety of work at the moment has been fun because I’m facing different challenges every day

I’ve also started a couple of fun tasks, namely painting over rendered elements that didn’t quite look realistic enough. These tasks were fun because I didn’t have to worry about projection technicalities and could go wild with some textures. It was a challenge to achieve a photo-realistic look of puddles on a street, but I came up with a good way of doing it. This helped to improve my texturing skills and I learned more about this part of the matte painting pipeline, which was something I hadn’t touched before.

The variety of work at the moment has been fun because I’m facing different challenges every day. I’ve continued a couple of tasks from last week and also got a couple of new ones, both retexturing and tree removal. It’s my last week as an intern; I can’t wait to start as an actual Matte Painter on Monday and to see what show I’m on!