Interview with Tony Kieme (Storyboard Artist) from The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions (2003)

By Paul Martin May 10th, 2012, in Official Interviews, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions

Archival interview with Tony Kieme from the official Matrix website.

MATRIX: Can you give us a brief breakdown of projects you have worked on?

TONY: I worked on the Final Fantasy movie done in Hawaii. I started out at Digital Domain doing a lot of work from commercials to games to a few little movie things, then a lot of freelance work, and the Hawaii job was the big one. Besides that, I’ve spent time doing fine arts and graphics, for instance T Shirt design – we have a line going. Beyond that I have many other projects, I’m working on my own comic book and I’m going to try and have a show eventually, things like that. I’m keeping busy creatively.

MATRIX: What is your primary role as an artist on any given production you’re working on?

TONY: It varies, depending on whether they see my skills on a particular show or project better for design, for storyboarding, or for key frame painting. So I sort of cover my ground doing all sorts of things. In Hawaii I was doing creature design in the beginning and that moved onto doing a lot more key frame painting, setting up the mood and lighting of certain shots, things like that. Here I’m doing mainly key frame painting of key shots where they’re having some trouble seeing what it looks like, I kind of give them a map to go by.

MATRIX: With THE MATRIX, what sorts of things are you conceptualizing – the real world or the Matrix?

TONY: All of the above, from the ships to the real world and the other world. There’s a general color scheme that has to be followed, especially for me because I deal with a lot of color and painting, the colors matter from the real world compared to the Matrix.

MATRIX:Are you working from conceptuals Geof Darrow has designed?

TONY: It depends, if his designs are in them, then yes. Most of the time there is some sort of reference in terms of design, but if there’s not I get kind of a free reign to do what I want, and find different sorts of references that work.

MATRIX:How long have you been part of the production?

TONY: I want to say more than two months, but I could be wrong, time just passes by so quickly.

MATRIX: What’s your sense of the scope of the project?

TONY: Huge. Very, very big. I feel like we’ve only just started because we have so much more to do. There’s an incredible story and visuals, just a big, big project to accomplish.

MATRIX: Can you tell us about the materials you use to create your artwork?

TONY: Depending on the particular frame or shot that has to be done, it’ll vary from marker to painting to sometimes digital, especially for shots that require a lot of repetitive things that would be silly to render out over and over. For time’s sake I would do one version and then just duplicate it, but that’s only in certain cases that require things like that. A lot of times it’ll be mainly marker or gouache, a lot of digital painting happens because of certain effects and looks a particular scene requires.

MATRIX: How do Larry and Andy convey what they want to you?

TONY: They’ll have just a very, very loose sketch sometimes, and they’ll try to explain it as best as they can, and we’ll do a lot of reiterations and try to fine tune. When they’re there you talk as much as you can and you try to get as much information from them to go right into the drawing, and hopefully it’ll work. The piece I’m working on at the moment is a fourth version to try to get what the brothers described. It’s getting closer and closer as they’ve been seeing more of them. This is a technique I use, which is just these two tools and that’s it – a ball point pen and a marker. It is a rough, quick sketch technique.

MATRIX: There are so many artists working on this production, all working on different facets with different styles, do you have a sense of how that is all going to mesh together in the end?

TONY: I’ve dealt with a little bit of computer work myself so I kind of know and can see how it’s going to end up, but I actually have no idea in terms of the production, I haven’t seen any of that yet. It’ll be exciting to see it finally come to life with models and acting, it will just look like natural footage. The artists definitely look at each other’s work and kind of see what everyone is doing to keep up with everything.

MATRIX: Do you look at other artists’ work and work off of that?

TONY: Sometimes, sure, inspiration is always hard to come by and here there’s a lot of it, which is good, it keeps you going.

MATRIX: How much art would you say you’re producing?

TONY: Well the large pieces take longer, smaller pieces, obviously not as long, and then the full color, tighter drawings obviously take a lot longer, it all depends on what is required. If the scene needs to be really detailed and tight for them to use as a map, then it would take probably a week, maybe less, but if it’s only just a storyboard rough for them to see the general sense of the color and what it would look like, I can do that in a day or two.

MATRIX: I’m curious as to how this production would compare to other productions you have worked on, such as Final Fantasy, which are also artist heavy?

TONY: I don’t know if it’s the best thing to compare with, but as far as I can tell THE MATRIX seems to be pretty good in terms of management, and working with the Directors directly, and again, them knowing what they want is a huge, huge means to have things progress. I’ve spent a lot of time on other productions where you spend a lot more creative time trying a variety of versions, which makes sense, but here it’s less because Andy and Larry know what they want.

MATRIX: Were you impressed by the first MATRIX film?

TONY: I thought it was great, it really opened up, hopefully, people’s perception of what a movie can be, especially in terms of genre, creating a new ‘90s Star Wars, if you will.

MATRIX: Do you feel that the directors are pushing the envelope with THE MATRIX 2 and 3?

TONY: I think they are, yes. They have an amazing vision in their heads that they know exactly what they want, which is great to work with. Obviously the difficult thing is trying to hit the mark, but because they know what they want and they have such a vision for the whole scope of the film, I think that it’ll come together really nicely. They know exactly where it’s going to go and what fits and what works. Yes, I definitely think so, I think a lot of people will be quite impressed.

MATRIX: Thanks Tony.

Interview by REDPILL

November 2000

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