Chicago-based Sarofsky created, designed and produced the opening title sequence for Marvel Studio’s latest hit movie, “Doctor Strange,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the eponymous superhero role and released Saturday in the US in 3D and IMAX 3D.
This is the fifth film title project in steroscropic 3D the West Loop design-driven production company has produced for Marvel Studios and its first opportunity to collaborate with Scott Derrickson, the film’s writer/director.
The story is about Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who embarks upon a journey of healing only to be drawn into the hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. He must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond.
Co-starring are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, and Benjamin Bratt among a cast of 60, including a cameo by Marvel’s Stan Lee, creator of “Doctor Strange” and many other Marvel comics.
Erin Sarofsky was lead creative on the 90-second, 3D title sequence; Steven Anderson was EP; Sam Clark, producer; John Filipkowski, lead animator; Matthew Crnich, VFX supervisor; Duarte Elvas, CG artist — a total of 23 experts in all working on the sequence.
For the opening, Sarofsky designed an original series of intricate “mandalas:” geometric spiritual figures representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism and the dreamer’s search for completeness and self-unity.
“We used mandalas as a way to represent Dr. Strange’s path from being self-centered to spiritual enlightenment,” notes artist Elvas.
The team began work in June and wrapped in October. The tight deadline for rendering, finishing was a big challenge, as were technical hurdles from the complexity of their designs, and then completing, rendering, finishing and delivering their work on a tight timeline.
Helping to resolve these key issues was the use of Maxon’s Cinema 4D software for modeling and animation.
“By using C4D’s mograph module and Xrefs, we were able to create a complex animation in one project, then use a low-quality proxy in its place to finesse scenes and camera movements,” explains lead animator Filipkowski.
Compositing of the original C4D animated content was done with The Foundry’s Nuke, w here the team added color, glows, flares and other effects. “Specifically for this project, we made a very big push into using Python in Nuke to automate repetitive tasks,” Crnich says.
At the final step, Smoke / CG artist Cory Davis and Smoke assistant Erik Uy faced a new twist. Until then, Sarofsky had delivered its work with a set convergence point for the left and right eyes. This time, however, both eyes were delivered in parallel, giving Marvel’s stereo team the power to adjust where Sarofsky’s work appears in the screen plane.
Budgeted at $165 million, Disney-distributedf “Doctor Strange,” grossed $87.7 million from its late October weekend theatrical opening in 33 foreign markets.