WWW.DIDIERKONINGS.COM / KONINGSDIDIER@GMAIL.COM
My name is Didier Konings
I’m Lead Matte Painter at the Aaron Sims Company
COULD YOU TELL OUR READERS A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
My name is Didier Konings, and I specialize in Digital Matte Painting and Concept Art. I've been working remotely for the Aaron Sims Company in Los Angeles for about five months.
HOW CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Working for the Aaron Sims Company in the concept design phase is a highly creative process. Because it's at the very beginning of the development and preproduction phase, sometimes even before there's an available script, I have a lot of artistic freedom and space to try new ideas out.
HOW DID YOU START YOUR CAREER IN THE EFFECTS INDUSTRY?
From a very young age, I was curious about getting a behind the scenes look at the visual effects for films. I researched the studios that completed the effects, and among them found one of my favorites, the Aaron Sims Company. They've created many concept designs and visual effects, two aspects of a film I love, which makes it an ideal working environment. I applied there and became an artist on their team.
IT ALWAYS A DIFFICULT DECISION FOR MAKING A CHOICE AND CONTINUE MOVING ON THE SELECTED PATH. COULD YOU SHARE WITH OUR READERS ABOUT YOUR FIRST-STEP EXPERIENCE?
When I was 17, I set out to direct my first feature film, "Boys in War." I did a lot of the work on the production—not just directing. The aspects I enjoyed most, though, were designing the concept art and shooting with matte paintings. From that moment, my path became clear to me.
IN YOUR PORTFOLIO, YOU CHARACTERIZE YOURSELF AS PRODUCTION DESIGNER AND DIGITAL MATTE PAINTER. INDUSTRY OF VISUAL EFFECTS HAS A HUGE RANGE OF WAYS FOR ARTISTS. WHY DID YOU BECOME A DIGITAL MATTE PAINTER DESIGNER?
Matte paintings have always left me feeling accomplished. You need to know your fundamentals inside and out, but there's always more to learn, and you can't learn enough. It’s exactly this learning process that gives me the energy to keep painting. The process of digital painting seems to fit me best, but I like to switch back and forth to other concept work as well. I think that concept design requires the most creativity from an artist. To bring something completely fresh to the table is a really big challenge, but I like that challenge. For the short film "The Space Between Us," I did the production design—designed all the concepts and was responsible for the look of the entire film. It's really gratifying to see your designs come to life. It's an indescribable feeling.
COULD YOU SAY THAT THE HOBBY BECAME A JOB?
Definitely! As a child, making movies was always my hobby. After seeing the film Jurassic Park at the age of seven, I was blown away. From that moment on I knew I wanted to do work in film. To be honest, it feels like I have no job because I like it so much it feels like a hobby.
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXTRAORDINARY AND UNSTANDARDIZED TASK IN YOUR EXPERIENCE DURING YOUR WORKING WITH EFFECTS? AND HOW YOU FIND A SOLUTION?
Sometimes a matte painting shot can be very simple, but it can also be very complex. If it's complex and you need to find new methods, you have to step out of your comfort zone and find a solution.
I once did a matte painting shot in a Warner Bros movie, which was very complex. On the clean plate, you saw a night shot where a road faded into the darkness. At the end of the road, there had to be a wall that had to be lit; that has to be done with matte painting. The problem for me was that there was not much to hold on. Because of the darkness, there was no valuable information or perspective lines. So what I did was block out the scene in 3D. I modeled out the basic shapes that were in the clean plate. Then I could find out where the camera was to find the perspective.
After that I modeled everything that had to be in the matte painting, so I had a good base to start painting on top of. I rendered it out and threw it into Photoshop. Now I had all the information to start painting. Blocking out a shot helps me most of the time. By analyzing you can learn a lot of it, and it didn't take too much of my time.
WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING IN YOUR WORK?
Work with matte paintings, the most challenging aspect is dealing with Photorealism. There is so much you need to know about the fundamentals of art to make a photorealistic painting. For me, the best result comes when I combine painting, photo elements, and 3D.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WAY TO FIND INSPIRATIONS IN YOUR JOB?
I have found inspiration in many ways—after seeing a really great movie, that adrenaline boost reminds me why I am doing what I do. Traveling also gives me a fresh perspective and boosts my visual library. For example, walking in the desert, feeling the sand and the burning sun helps me to recreate those elements in painting a desert environment later. Music, of course, is additional inspiration for making art and effects, especially the right ambient music.
WORKING ON SECONDARY DETAILS, IT'S ALWAYS A ROUTINE. SO HOW DID YOU FIND AN APPROACH FOR BETTER REALIZING?
I always try to work as efficiently as possible. But sometimes there are no shortcuts, so putting on my music and just diving in pulls me through that. The better your routine, the better you get at your craft.
HAVE YOU IN YOUR NOTED A LIST WITH FILMS THAT IS AN ETALON FOR YOU? LIKE AS A STAR WARS FOR JAMES CAMERON.
After seeing Jurassic Park, I knew I had to do something in the film industry. I am a very big dinosaur fan, and that movie did the magic for me—they came alive. I watched the behind the scenes over and over again to find out how they made the dinosaurs look so real.
Also, Star Wars drove me into visual effects. I remember as a kid, I spend hundreds of hours replicating effects like lasers and sabers.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ARTIST FROM THE PAST AND WHY?
Of course! There are many artists I admire. Being a matte painter, I really respect Albert Bierstadt. The way he painted environments is amazing. His dramatic lighting and mood blow me away. He would be awesome to learn from.
HOW DO YOU IMAGINE A JOB OF YOUR DREAM?
My job right now is the dream job I always imagined, to be honest. I love movies, and working on movies. To be a successful matte painter/concept artist, you need to have skills from both the creative and technical sides. Working on the kinds of movies that inspired me to become who I am and do what I'm doing right now is how I imagine my dream job, and I've already achieved it! Of course, I have more ambition and dreams for my future.
The Space between us / Production Designer
HOW DO YOU IMAGINE A JOB OF YOUR DREAM?
YOU SAID THAT YOU HAVE A JOB OF YOUR DREAM, AND HOBBY BECAME A JOB. IF IT'S NOT A SECRET COULD YOU TELL OUR READERS HOW DID YOU PREFER SPENDS YOUR FREE TIME?
I try to play sports and be active. For me, it's really important to keep in shape. I spend a lot of time behind the computer. I find myself in Martial Arts and Fitness, mostly.
IF YOU WILL NOT WORK WITH DIGITAL PAINTING, WHAT KIND OF PROFESSION YOU PREFER TO CHOOSE IN EFFECTS INDUSTRY? AND WHY?
If I weren't working as a digital painter, I think I would work in compositing. Making an artistic picture in combination with trying to sell something photo-real is what comes closest to digital painting so that it would be the best fit. I did some compositing work at ASC for a Warner Bros. movie called "Hidden," and found it was an easy transition from painting.
COULD YOU GIVE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR OUR READERS?
The first thing is to learn the basics. I spent a lot of time learning my art fundamentals and have never felt like it was a waste of time to learn. Learning never stops. It doesn't matter if you are compositing, working in 3D, directing, camera or anything else in the industry. It's always good to have a strong base of fundamental knowledge.