Frederic St-Arnaud Interview

Frédéric St-Arnaud is a top matte painter, vfx and concept artist whose movie credits include the most recent Indiana Jones movie, Resident Evil, Sin City, the latest Terminator, the Golden Compass, and Spy Kids 2 & 3.

Good evening, and thank you very much for sitting down with us here for an interview. So, how did you end up becoming a matte painter in the film industry?

Well, back in ’97 when I was in school, there wasn’t much in the way of matte painting instruction. It was really something I ended discovering later, after I had actually started working. At the beginning of the 2000’s, I was working in a company called Hybrid, north of Montreal. That was where I learned about matte painting. At the time, I was a character animator, but I slowly began doing more concept and texture work; eventually, I just asked to be able to do a matte painting.

What was it that attracted you in particular to matte painting?

Good question. I think that there are really two sections in terms of art in this industry. There’s the 3D work, and the 2D work, so you can work either in Photoshop or with 3D software. I’d say I’m more of a 2D guy than a 3D guy, so, for me, matte painting and concept art seemed much more artistic and much less technical, and that is what really attracted me.

 

What were some of your favourite projects that you worked on as a matte painter?

One of my favourite projects was definitely one of the less famous ones. It’s a movie called Mr. Nobody, made in Belgium, have you heard of it?

Yes, actually, I have; one of the teachers here at Syn Studio also worked on it.

Yeah, a lot of Montreal companies worked on the movie. I think part of the film was shot in Montreal too, actually. It was a very good project because many of us worked very closely with the director, and the dynamic, or the chemistry, I guess, between us and the client was very good. It was a very creative atmosphere and work environment, so I’d say it was among my best projects.

 

I saw some of the Mr. Nobody screenshots when you lead the workshop here at Syn Studio. The matte paintings were really amazing. Is there anywhere that people reading this interview can go to look at some of your work?

My website has a lot of my work from Mr. Nobody and other films. The address is http://starno.net.

Cool! Now, last question: what would you recommend for students looking to get into matte painting?

Matte painting is a field that is very difficult to learn. Really all I can say for those interested is just practice, practice, and practice. You can practice by yourself at home, and it’s easy to find inspiration and tutorials all over the internet. There are even a few on my website. I personally found that I learned and improved more on my personal projects than on those I did on commission for clients. It’s also more fun to work on your own stuff, because you get to decide everything about it. So you learn, and you do something that you like at the same time.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot of the top artists work on a lot of personal projects, even when they’re busy on commissions. Anyways, thank you so much for sitting for this interview with us at Syn Studio!

Be sure to check out Frederic’s work at http://starno.net, and keep your eye on http://synstudio.ca for more upcoming interviews and the podcast with Frédéric St-Arnaud right here :
Episode 3: Frédéric St-Arnaud
!

Good question. I think that there are really two sections in terms of art in this industry. There’s the 3D work, and the 2D work, so you can work either in Photoshop or with 3D software. I’d say I’m more of a 2D guy than a 3D guy, so, for me, matte painting and concept art seemed much more artistic and much less technical, and that is what really attracted me.

 

What were some of your favourite projects that you worked on as a matte painter?

One of my favourite projects was definitely one of the less famous ones. It’s a movie called Mr. Nobody, made in Belgium, have you heard of it?

Yes, actually, I have; one of the teachers here at Syn Studio also worked on it.

Yeah, a lot of Montreal companies worked on the movie. I think part of the film was shot in Montreal too, actually. It was a very good project because many of us worked very closely with the director, and the dynamic, or the chemistry, I guess, between us and the client was very good. It was a very creative atmosphere and work environment, so I’d say it was among my best projects.

 

I saw some of the Mr. Nobody screenshots when you lead the workshop here at Syn Studio. The matte paintings were really amazing. Is there anywhere that people reading this interview can go to look at some of your work?

My website has a lot of my work from Mr. Nobody and other films. The address is http://starno.net.

Cool! Now, last question: what would you recommend for students looking to get into matte painting?

Matte painting is a field that is very difficult to learn. Really all I can say for those interested is just practice, practice, and practice. You can practice by yourself at home, and it’s easy to find inspiration and tutorials all over the internet. There are even a few on my website. I personally found that I learned and improved more on my personal projects than on those I did on commission for clients. It’s also more fun to work on your own stuff, because you get to decide everything about it. So you learn, and you do something that you like at the same time.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot of the top artists work on a lot of personal projects, even when they’re busy on commissions. Anyways, thank you so much for sitting for this interview with us at Syn Studio!

 

Be sure to check out Frederic’s work at http://starno.net, and keep your eye on http://synstudio.ca for more upcoming interviews and the podcast with Frédéric St-Arnaud right here :
Episode 3: Frédéric St-Arnaud
!

Even More…

This interview is part of a series of exclusive Concept Art, Illustration, VFX, 3D and Comics Podcasts created by Syn Studio. If you enjoyed this podcast please share it with your friends. And please sign up below for our newsletter to keep informed about all of our great podcasts, interviews, tutorials, articles, videos and other material created for you: the artist.

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