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The original Star Wars movies used a lot of large paintings for set pieces.

For example, this image shows a painter creating stormtroopers for a scene inside the Death Star:

Painting of Death Star Hanger

Do the new movies (Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Episode VIII: The Last Jedi) use this technique at all?

One shot I'm particularly interested in is the establishment shot of the fallen AT-AT that Rey uses as her home on Jakku. When we zoom in, it's clearly a physical AT-AT leg that she's resting against, but before that, the shot of the large vehicle in the sand looks suspiciously "not real" (and also "not CGI").

  • Am I the only one who thinks the painter looks like Kevin Kline? – BrettFromLA Dec 28 '17 at 16:58
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I'm surprised to find that the answer might be yes. That is, old-fashioned paint might have been used for some matte backgrounds. On the IMDB credits page for The Force Awakens, there are many people with titles referring to matte painting or paint artistry:

  • Matthew Gilson ... senior environment artist/matte painter/concept designer: ILM
  • Jaime Jasso ... digital matte artist
  • Timothy Mueller ... matte painter: ILM
  • Justin van der Lek ... environments/digimatte lead: ILM
  • Mike Wood ... digital matte artist
  • Scott R. Anderson ... senior paint and roto: ILM
  • Mathieu Bacchous ... stereo paint artist: Stereo D
  • Matt Cameron ... paint and roto
  • Huey Carroll ... sr. paint artist
  • Wally Chin ... senior paint artist
  • Anita Clipston ... senior paint artist ilm
  • Tony Como ... senior digital paint artist: ILM

The titles distinguish between "senior paint artist ilm" and "senior digital paint artist: ILM", for example. This suggests that some work was done digitally, and some was done with actual paint.

However, this could just be an unclear naming convention. The "senior paint artist" may have "painted" a digital scene. Since paint seems so archaic, and digital seems so perfect / easy / quick, I would need to see a photo of an actual painting used in the film before I'd be convinced!

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