Wikipedia defines Matt Painting as a painted representation of a landscape, set, or distant location that allows film-makers to create the illusion of an environment that is non-existent in real life or would otherwise be too expensive or impossible to build or visit.
Throughout the 1990s, traditional matte paintings were still in use. Die Hard 2 (1990) was the first film to use digitally composited live-action footage with a traditional glass matte painting that had been photographed and scanned into a computer. It was for the last scene, which took place on an airport runway.
Paint has now been superseded by digital images created using photo references, 3-D models, and drawing tablets. Matte painters combine their digitally matte painted textures within computer-generated 3-D environments, allowing for 3-D camera movement.
During the first half of the 20th century, almost all movies were shot on studio backlogs and sound stages. It was too expensive to film on location. So if a scene called for the interior of a lavish European castle, the film-makers would shoot the live actors on a sound stage with minimal set construction. Later, they would use matte painting artists to fill in the details by hand — the dangling crystal chandeliers, ornate tapestries, vast libraries and towering stained glass windows — that transport the actors from Studio City to Transylvania.
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