Sunday, March 17, 2013

Environment Masters - Brandon Kachel

Alright so it seems I'm shooting new artists at you guys a lot more frequently than I had planned to, but I can't help it, there's too much inspiration out there! So here I am with yet another awesome environment artist to introduce.

Last night I went to see Oz the Great and Powerful, and couldn't stop gaping at the beautiful whimsical backdrops, so much so that I occasionally found myself missing some of the foreground action. I actually thought the environments, as gorgeous as they were, could have been better integrated with the 3D elements and characters, at least in a few spots. There were a couple times where I just wasn't 100% convinced that everything was co-existing in the same world, and that was too bad because all the elements separately looked quite awesome.

Anyway, that's just my 2-cent on that, but the point is, I was looking forward to spotting some of the matte painters' names at the end of the film, to see who created those paintings. I wasn't surprised to see Dylan Cole's name pop up, seeing as the film's aesthetic reminded me a lot of Alice in Wonderland, for which he did a lot of great concept and matte work. However he's not the one I'm featuring today. Rather I found another artist who also happens to have worked on Alice, as well as The Kite Runner, Iron Man, Yogi Bear, Wrath of the Titans and the recent oscar winner, Life of Pi. I thought it was fitting to introduce an artist who was directly involved in the whole Rhythm & Hues situation, which if you're at all interested in VFX you will have heard lots about in the last few weeks (which is why I won't get into it here).

Today's artist is Brandon Kachel, who's a graduate from the Minnesota Arts Institute where he studied visual effects. He's worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks as well as Rhythm & Hues, and his matte painting skills are credited on several feature films and advertising work. I thought Brandon was interesting because contrarily to a lot of the environment artists I've found, he really seems to focus primarily on matte painting, and doesn't dabble so much in concept art. At least that's the impression I get from his portfolio. Another reason I thought he was interesting is that a lot of his work is perhaps a bit less glamorous, and more practical than a lot of the artists I find out there. Though he's worked on some films that rely more heavily on VFX, the majority of the films on his credits list are not considered "VFX films". Hence a lot of his work doesn't necessarily come across as beautiful or impressive at first glimpse, but he does a fantastic job at blending his paintings with real-life footage, so that they don't stand out, which is just as equally impressive in my opinion.

One more thing I absolutely love about his website is he always shows the before and after pictures of the plates he's worked with. This allows you to see exactly what he did on each shot, and the restrictions he had to work with. I wish everyone out there did that in their portfolio! It really helps to visualize the process.

I picked a few images from Brandon's portfolio that I particularly liked. As always, you can find more of this artist's work on his website :

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