Maxx Bur­man

The art di­rec­tor and matte painter on his big­gest projects, and in­tro­duc­ing 3D into the mix

3D Artist - - CONTENTS -

The art di­rec­tor talks matte paint­ing and his ca­reer

At age 18 and in­tent on work­ing in the visual ef­fects in­dus­try, Maxx Bur­man scoured the Los An­ge­les phone di­rec­tory for rel­e­vant stu­dios hop­ing one might of­fer him work in his area of in­ter­est; matte paint­ing.

“I rang ev­ery stu­dio in the phone book of­fer­ing to work for free,” he re­calls. “the very last one, Zoic stu­dios, gave me an in­tern­ship, so that’s how i got my first job.” It would turn out to be an en­light­en­ing choice for Bur­man, since mas­ter matte painter syd dut­ton was at the stu­dio and passed on to the younger artist many of the finer points of this im­por­tant visual ef­fects tech­nique.

Bur­man would go on to be­come a free­lancer at nu­mer­ous VFX stu­dios such as dig­i­tal do­main, MPC, sony Pic­tures im­age­works, Psyop, Blur, the Mill, star­gate dig­i­tal and elas­tic. He also started his own stu­dio, sky­ward, mov­ing into art di­rec­tion and visual ef­fects su­per­vi­sion.

Many of Bur­man’s projects over the years have in­volved 2d con­cepts and de­sign, but more re­cently he has seen the need to adopt 3d for a hy­brid ap­proach. “i hit this point a cou­ple of years ago where i re­alised that if you didn’t use 3d you were go­ing to get left be­hind, and that matte paint­ing was re­ally go­ing the way of be­ing more of a 3d gen­er­al­ist than any­thing else. so i’ve had to adopt a lot of dif­fer­ent 3d soft­ware in or­der to keep up with what’s be­ing asked of matte paint­ing these days.”

Bur­man’s go-to 3d tools are Maya and Keyshot. He says he also works in Cinema 4d, Zbrush, 3d-coat, Vue and speedtree in gen­er­at­ing CG ge­om­e­try that will be­come part of a con­cept or a fi­nal matte paint­ing.

One stand-out project for Bur­man is the open­ing ti­tles for net­flix’s The Crown, for which he was the art di­rec­tor for elas­tic’s Pa­trick Clair (he worked in a sim­i­lar role on HBO’S ti­tles for West­world). The Crown’s ti­tle de­sign in­volved macro views of a crown be­ing formed, com­plete with di­a­monds and gems. “For the de­sign of it,” says Bur­man, “we had a 3d mod­eller go to town on try­ing to get as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble to the [real] crown. And then i started drop­ping in cam­eras and ren­der­ing these views out to see how we could take a real ob­ject and turn it into beau­ti­ful ab­stract de­signs by play­ing with the shape and colour.”

Although his role as a free­lancer en­ables him to con­trib­ute to a broad range of projects, Bur­man be­lieves it has been im­por­tant to also pur­sue per­sonal projects when pos­si­ble. He has a videogame be­ing re­leased on nin­tendo switch next year, and he’s been de­vel­op­ing an art show of per­sonal projects called Dis­con­nect.

“I’ve been us­ing a lot of 3d for Dis­con­nect,” says Bur­man. “it’s been a great project to play with new tools. i’ve taught my­self Keyshot while work­ing on this and been play­ing with 3d-coat a bunch, too, then com­plet­ing the more com­plex builds in Maya.”

He adds; “do­ing these per­sonal paint­ings has also helped me re­con­nect with what i en­joy do­ing and re­minded me why i love paint­ing. It’s a great way to help me start to find my own style and my own voice.”

I hit this point a cou­ple of years ago where i re­alised that if you didn’t use 3d you were go­ing to get left be­hind

Maxx Bur­man, Free­lance art di­rec­tor and matte painter

01 This en­vi­ron­ment for Her was de­signed to be a near-fu­ture Los An­ge­les, just to hint at the tech­no­log­i­cal themes in the film

04 Con­cept frame for the open­ing ti­tles to West­world, which ex­plored the translu­cen­cies of skin and tis­sue

03 At Dig­i­tal Do­main, Bur­man was in­volved on the matte paint­ings for Iron Man 3’s ‘bar­rel of mon­keys’ se­quence

06 Dis­con­nect is a project that Bur­man has used more and more 3D tools on in or­der to gen­er­ate ge­om­e­try

05 A paint­ing taken from Bur­man’s per­sonal se­ries called Dis­con­nect, which ex­plores themes of a dead Earth

02 Bur­man worked with Elas­tic to help de­sign the jewel-en­crusted open­ing ti­tles for The Crown

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