The Walk

Matte Paintings by Andrew Cunningham

At Atomic Fiction, I was one of the matte painters responsible for re-creating the streets of 1974 New York City as Philippe Petit makes his grand walk across the void. Kevin Baillie of Atomic Fiction narrates this informative documentary about the visual effects that went into creating Robert Zemeckis’ film, The Walk. The break-downs showcase quite a bit of my work and show just how much work went into creating this massive matte painting endeavor.


In the climactic moment in the Robert Zemeckis film “The Walk” wherein Philippe Petit makes his way across the void, I was responsible for providing Digital Matte Paintings of the World Trade Center Plaza down below the iconic wire. This area had to be digitally re-created because it no longer exists and the surrounding area has since changed. Based on vintage reference photography from a pre-digital era, I painted what a bird’s eye view of the World Trade Center Plaza would have looked like back in 1974!

dmp bird's eye view

full on matte painting of World Trade Center Plaza

The 360 degree view of New York city was a massive endeavor which required intense computing power to handle a 46 gb photoshop file shared between all of the DMP artists.

dmp environment

dmp environment

The theatrical poster for Robert Zemeckis’ film “The Walk” makes use of the bird’s eye view Matte Painting I worked on for the World Trade Center Plaza and the surrounding buildings of New York City from above in the year 1974.. the year French tight rope walker Philippe Petit performed his amazing stunt!

Copyright 2015 Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Walk theatrical poster

The Walk – Theatrical Poster

My first assignment at Atomic Fiction Montreal was to help produce a double page spread for the December 26th, 2014 – January 2nd, 2015 special double issue of Entertainment Weekly!

Entertainment Weekly1Entertainment Weekly2

I was provided with reference stills from the set of a partially constructed set with Joseph Gordon-Levitt about to take his first step across the void. Our job was to replace the green screen with a beautiful golden sunrise of the New York City horizon. This image was ONLY used for the Entertainment Weekly article. The director chose another look for the actual shot in the film.. which had to look more heavenly and evoke the feeling of hope.. which after all, is what this film is all about.. following your dream.. it’s that amazing! Just wait and see.

Contributors to this article were Atomic Fiction Matte Painters – Andrew Cunningham, Sean Samuels, and Seth Hill.

Copyright 2015 Sony Pictures Entertainment, Entertainment Weekly publications.

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