Summary:
One of the central challenges for this film was making an Ice Age world that was much larger and more scenic in scope.  With a team of 3 environment artists and 1 set dresser, we needed to tackle over 200 environment matte painting shots and over 770 skies.  
Techniques:
Using a combination of digital sculpting, procedural, and traditional 3D modelling techniques, I created a backlot of mountains, mountain ranges, and foothills that could be pulled out and used by any of the artists, regardless of if they preferred to do a full 3D environment or a more 2D Photoshop painting.  The image below illustrates the versatility of having a fully 3D asset to work with when viewed with different lighting suites.
When combined with the hero assets we had already created, you could get a sequence's worth of environments up and running in hours, not days.  The backlot gave flexibility for different times of day while still providing an exellent base for a paintover and projection onto the geometry for custom painting.  
The first pass of the environment above was created for Art Director feedback in a few hours by leveraging a previously created hero element for the funnel volcano, backlot mountains and hills, and then a final paintover with a sky and additional texture to bring it all together.  This backdrop was used in 16 shots in a sequence.
The backlot ended up being deployed across hundreds of shots, from simple set extensions to full frame environments.  The contact sheet  shows  examples of work from 3 different artists with most of the frames using elements off the digital backlot to form a more cohesive shape language, iterate more quickly, and ultimately utilize a very small team to tackle a very big challenge.
Standard pipeline render highlighted in RED

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