Ryan Gosling is ‘The Gray Man’ and Chris Evans is his psychopathic adversary in the Netflix/AGBO spy thriller directed by Anthony and Joe Russo now available worldwide on Netflix. The Netflix release of the AGBO, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films production also stars Ana De Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters and Dhanush, along with Alfre Woodard and Billy Bob Thornton.
As the directors once again turn to longtime collaborators at one-stop cross-media production company Sarofsky for sublime storytelling graphics, including the film’s main title treatment and main title sequence (MOE), once again, the iconic visual results speak for themselves.
Since debuting with the Russos in 2009 creating the now famous “Community” lead tracks, Sarofsky has continued to create vintage tracks for the Russo-led series “Happy Endings.” Then came Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the first of Sarofsky’s many subsequent design adventures in the acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the studio’s collaborations reaching new heights and even involving a few other A-List directors, to date, nothing generates more excitement than a call from the Russos.
“Erin Sarofsky is an esteemed collaborator of the highest order,” the Russos began. “We’ve partnered with her on many projects throughout our career, and she consistently delivers incredibly inspired and elevated creativity. We’re thrilled and honored to have her work featured for this film.
In the words of Owner and Executive Creative Director Erin Sarofsky: “We are so grateful to have a long relationship with the Russos. We couldn’t be happier to be part of their trusted team.”
Erin continued, “When they briefed us on this project, the discussion included the main on the ending, a treatment of the main title, and typographic locators throughout the film. We were engaged early in the filmmaking process, which allowed us to do a full exploration before landing on the final approach. Our goals were to honor this film and forge a legacy film brand at the same time.
Another veteran of many AGBO productions through Sarofsky, creative director Duarte Elvas described the many benefits that come from the rare situation of embarking on a project in the script phase. “This collaboration unfolded through a series of brainstorming sessions involving film editors Jeff Groth and Pietro Scalia, cinematographer Stephen Windon, VFX supervisor Swen Gillberg, and many other key creators. produced primarily in the event that the main ideas of the title affect the production in any way.
For “The Gray Man,” the directors sought to create an iconic, stand-alone MOE to establish the visual connective tissue of the film and the franchise. “The whole team really responded to the style frames we created by showing a sculpt of Six in an empty set inspired by the production design game,” Elvas explained. “Adopting this look allowed us to visually connect the title card shown at the start to the main title sequence; the opening scene turns into a sculpted world, very similar to the vignettes we recreated at the end of the film.
In their new approach to transitioning between live figures and sculptures, Sarofsky’s team also beefed up their MOE sequence with a moving camera point of view and lights. These eye-catching effects add yet another nuanced aspect to their thoughtful design touches for “The Gray Man’s” brand identity, inspired by the film’s music, story, pacing and overall production design.
For the more than 20 global locators or “chyrons” featured throughout the film, the designers took care to honor each great shot while clearly identifying its location. Boldly solving this challenge, the team used translucent fill and larger typefaces for their letters.
“There’s a strong graphic unity that we’ve achieved with a consistent typographic treatment from the logotype to the credits on the MOE, to the locators,” Elvas confirmed.
Sarofsky’s Blockbuster CG Pipeline
Representing Sarofsky’s second massive CG project so far this year, “The Gray Man” builds on the studio’s deep investment in his talents and capabilities in this area.
“Creating CG renderings for the big screen requires a much higher level of fidelity and definition than our work for television,” said Sarofsky General Manager/Executive Producer Steven Anderson. “Additionally, like other feature film projects we’ve worked on in the past, we had to work within the common Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) color pipeline across all of the film’s visual effects vendors. ”
Digging deeper into the company’s pipeline, here are some noteworthy technical details.
• Adobe Premiere was used for editing via edit lock
• Maxon Cinema 4D (C4D) was used to create 3D scenes and animate the camera
• Each character’s head had to be retopologized or fully sculpted using Z-Brush and brought back into each C4D scene
• Redshift renderer was used in conjunction with the studio’s enhanced render farm
• Composition was managed with Adobe After Effects using OpenColorIO to manage color in ACES workflow
• Final deliverables have been shaped in Autodesk Flame
• Frame.io allowed the team to seamlessly manage hundreds of internal and client notes collected from contributors around the world
Additional project credits for Sarofsky include producer Kelsey Hynes, editor Tom Pastorelle, finishing artist Cory Davis, look development artists Juan García Segura, Stefan Draht and Matt Miltonberger, CG lead Tyler Scheitlin, CG artists Jake Allen, Scott Pellman, Dan Moore and Dan Tiffany, typographers Cat McCarthy and João Vaz Oliveira, sculptors Soumya Verma and RA Esnard, and storyboard artist Tricia Kleinot.