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Published 23 December 2009 by Pauline & Nicolas
Art, Illustration

Interview Frederic St-Arnaud : hollywood matte-painter

Frédéric St-Arnaud is a famous matte-painter who works on Hollywood movies like Sin City, Terminator Salvation, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Silent Hill, etc. Born in Quebec, this artist make a best-of his 12 years of experience on his portfolio. But first discover our exclusive interview!

                               Where does your passion for illustration come from and what training have you made to get to this point?
From all I can remember, I’ve always loved to draw. I was 3 when I draw my first character. From this time, I’ve never stopped drawing. There are people for whom it’s easier to know what they gonna do during their life. Luckily, I was one of them. I’ve undertook to study in Visual Art and Graphical Communication until I learn about the existence of school programs in 3D animation. So I choose to study in 3D animation and Animated cartoon on a private school.

Why did you specialize yourself in the matte-painting?
I’ve started working in 1997 as a storyboard artist and 3D characters animator. It is only in 2001 that I’ve discovered the job of matte-painter. I’ve decided at this moment that this domain was made for me. Matte-painting perfectly combines my three passions: illustration, cinema and new technologies.

“Matte-painting perfectly combines my three passions: illustration, cinema and new technologies. “

Where do you get your inspiration?
I’m a huge cinema enthusiast. I find a lot of inspiration in the movies I see, but also in cartoons and TV series. I like science-fiction and fantastic stories.

When you work on a movie, what are the limits of your creation liberties? What is the level of stress in your job?
The liberty of creation depends on the project. Some directors have a very precise idea of the art direction of their movie while others let us explore and propose different point of views. Generally, the bigger the project is, the more precise and well-organized it is. The pressure can be very relating to the person. There is always pressure: time and money constraints, high level client’s requirement, and also the competition with others matte-painters. I think it’s all about management rather than pressure. Doing your best with what you have is the best attitude to have in order to avoid a too much pressure.

Despite the variety and quality of the movies you’ve been involved in, do you still learn from your job?
Yes, I learn a lot. Each matte painting is different from the others. I’m constantly asked to create new worlds. One day I’ve to create the snowy mountains of Himalaya which melt because of the global warming while the other day, I’m asked to create a sunset on the futurist city of the XY-234 planet.

“One day I’ve to create the snowy mountains of Himalaya which melt because of the global warming while the other day, I’m asked to create a sunset on the futurist city of the XY-234 planet.”

Does the advent of 3D movies change the way you work?
The advent of 3D movies, that is to say the process called stereoscopy actually change the way we work, but the software quickly adapt themselves to the changes and help us making our work easier.

In the future, can you imagine yourself leaving the film industry to explore totally different ones?
Not really! I’m a movie buff! I like watching movies and work for this industry. However, the videogame industry is very attractive for its imaginative content. There are no limits in videogame because everything is entirely digital.

Thanks a lot for this interview!

For more informations and creations, visit StArno.net, portfolio of this artist.

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