After more than two decades of creating some of the industry’s most memorable images, Matte World Digital, a leading visual effects facility specializing in matte paintings, has ceased operation as of early August 2012.
For years Matte World Digital was a driving force in the industry. Based in Marin County, California, the company was started in 1988 by effects producer Krys Demkowicz, VFX supervisor Craig Barron, and matte painter Michael Pangrazio. The latter two had been former colleagues at ILM, where they created matte shots Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,
Raiders of the Lost Ark, and
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, before organizing their own company.
When digital technology began to overtake the business seemingly overnight, Matte World changed its moniker (adding “Digital” to the end) and its methods.
Over the years, the facility built up a long list of credits, including Star Trek VI, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, and
Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the earlier years, to
X-Men, The Alamo, and
Alice in Wonderland in more recent times. Along the way, the studio worked on a number of features nominated for Academy Awards for achievement in visual effects (
Batman Returns, Armageddon, and
Mighty Joe Young), and a number of others that received the coveted honor (
Terminator II, Independence Day, Titanic, The Golden Compass, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and
Hugo). In fact,
Hugo was Matte World Digital’s last major feature film.
In a lengthy farewell address on the company’s Web site (www.matteworld.com) that is definitely worth reading, the company cites a number of reasons for its closure: “In addition to rising costs of technology and R&D, studio cost-saving measures and competition from an increasingly global effects industry was making it difficult for a small company to survive. (Such pressures had already claimed companies like Orphanage, Illusion Arts and Asylum.)”