Interview with Matte Painter at Digital Domain, Stefan Bernscherer

Stefan is a Matte Painter who was born and raised in Denmark and now works at Digital Domain in Montreal and was one of the very first Subscribers to MattePaint.

Interview with Matte Painter at Digital Domain, Stefan Bernscherer

Stefan talks about his journey to becoming a Matte Painter and how he got to where he is today.

Stefan Bjornfort

Stefan is a Matte Painter who was born and raised in Denmark and now works at Digital Domain in Montreal and was one of the very first Subscribers to MattePaint.

What got you into the industry?

When I was young, I played a lot of PC games, and I was always fascinated by the graphics, especially the cut-scenes and Cinematics (Thank-you Blizzard) and I think that paved the way for me.  What really made the impact though, was a TV program we had in Denmark called "Troldspejlet", that would review books, cartoons, PC games and at the end of each episode, they had a segment called Pixels, and that was where the viewers could send in their own animations. I thought that was the coolest thing ever!  I don't know how, but I knew after that, that I was going to do 3D graphics.

Where did you begin?

I have always been playing around with and using Photoshop, and at some point in the Gymnasium ( in High-school in Denmark) I thought oh I can do 3D, so I got a hold of 3D Studio Max, and spent 3 hours making a Cube, that was animated in a straight line over 10 frames.  After that I uninstalled it, as I figured that there was no way in Hell I could learn this by myself. Back then, there wasn't this great amount of tutorials, sites and online courses like in the Academy.

So I started to look for 3D education in Denmark, dropped out of the gymnasium (not recommended) and enrolled in the government run 3D education in Denmark.  I had 1 year of basic training and then I got a 2.5 years internship at a Company that did Medical animation, commercials and Corporate videos, so I could finish my education as a 3D Generalist, switching between school and working at the company those 3.5 years.

What have you worked on in the past?

In the past I have worked on a wide range of commercials, TV shows and feature films.  Some of the most recent are, Vikings Season 6, the TV Show "The Boys", Season two of American Gods and the Movie "Antlers".

What made you transition into Matte Painting
and where and how did you start in that field?

My introduction to Matte Painting started back in 2013 after I finished my 3D generalist education. It was when I was on a VFX pro course, at the Animation workshop in Denmark, where I was actually there to learn nuke compositing, but we had one week of Matte Painting and it blew my mind!

Before my 1 week of Matte Painting, I had no idea that there was such a thing as a Matte painter or Matte Painting at all. After my one week intro I knew what I was going to do!  It wouldn't be 3D or compositing, as I had previously thought 2.5 months before and was the reason I took the course, but instead I was going to be a Matte Painter.

So after this course, I worked for some years as a compositor, while doing whatever Matte Paintings I could do at work, while taking online MattePaint Courses and working with Conrad Allan and learning through the MattePaint Academy.

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to get into the industry or become a MattePainter?

Study images, make your own work, learn the software (Photoshop, Maya, Nuke) and the terminology used. And prepare yourself for ups and downs!

What are you most proud of so far as a Matte Painter?

The thing I am most proud of is actually the show I am currently working on, which I unfortunately can't say what it is, but I'm really proud of it and can't wait to see it finished! The second most things though are some of the shots from American Gods and the second half of Vikings Season 6.

What is the best part of your job and why?

The best part of my job is that everyday I get up in the morning looking forward to doing what I really burn for, and what makes me happy.  But also that somehow, whatever small or big part I have had in a production, it will end up touching someone, when they watch something I worked on and it brings forth a smile on that person.

What have you learnt since working full time in MattePainting?

The most important thing I have learned is that the more you know the better you will be at your job, also how important it is to share knowledge and help others, with feedback

What do you want to learn more of in your role?

Software Tools! As for tools, Houdini is on the top of the list closely followed by Gaea and afterwards Clarisse.

Processes.  I would love to be better at the creative process, so that I  can come up with concepts faster.

Techniques, just general techniques, that can make me do my work, better and faster. I don't have a clear idea of specific techniques at this point.

Recommendations for people to checkout

I can highly recommend the MattePaint Academy and Community group!

The videos are so helpful and the Academy group especially, well it's a great place to share and get more info, techniques and help.  I learnt so much from there and am still learning every day. Also check out the courses on CGMA and Learn Squared.

Closing thoughts

A huge Shout-out goes to my Wife! Without her, none of what I do would be possible.

I would also give a really big Shout-out to David Loung, Heather Abels, and Conrad Allan, for putting up with all my weird questions, and for all their help during my journey to become a Matte Painter.

And last, a shout out to Juan Pablo, the matte painter that first introduced me to the art of matte painting.  Thanks so much for reading! For 50 Free MattePaint credits, click my referral link and start creating!

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