SAROFSKY MAIN TITLE WORKSHOP

As with many Motion Designers, my dream is to work on Main Titles. There's something so attractive to me about boiling down a story and laying out the welcome mat for the viewer to enter a new world.  Around the end of 2018, I took some time to go up to FITC Toronto to listen to some of the industry leaders. While my inspiration was lit on fire from the various talks, the greatest thing to come of that weekend had to be meeting Erin Sarofsky. While at the meetup afterward we briefly exchanged words and she happened to mention their kickoff of Sarofsky labs in 2019. I immediately knew I wanted to attend. As soon as I returned to the states, I reached out and snagged one of the twelve seats.

If you're not aware of the stellar work Sarofsky puts out go ahead and take a peek!

Coming into the weekend it just so happened that I was juggling quite a lot. In an active effort of improving my ability to handle the high tides of freelance work and my personal life, I made sure to set aside a little time the week before to try and have SOMETHING prepared for the workshop.

About a week before the workshop, Sarofsky sent us all a creative brief of sorts. The basic idea was to either chose from a list of shows and movies or present your own concept to focus on for the weekend. We would work on a set of boards and/or conecpt then present it to the group at the end of the weekend. I ended up settling on the Showtime Series Homeland. It was one of three shows that I had seen and the work that I felt I would be most suited to design for.

In the two days leading up to the workshop I was able to work an hour or two each night so I wasn't coming in cold. I put together a few designs pretty close to the subsequent frames, but by the time we sat down to begin work Saturday morning, no matter how much fiddling I did, it just wasn't feeling right.

Sarofsky Workshop_Homeland_V1-01
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Starting Saturday morning off we had a kind of informal meet and greet as well as official introductions over coffee and snacks. I've gotta say, the Sarofsky team did a great job of making everyone feel welcome and exicted. Once we took our seats at the studio workstations, we began to walk through several of Sarofsky's pitch decks for many of the biggest titles in film and television. Erin and Duarte were amazingly open and transparent, even more so on their unsuccessful pitches. Just these two hours were worth the price of admission in itself. Hearing this kind of information is typically reserved for podcasts or motionographer write-ups, yet there we were able to interact and engage in the conversation.

One of my favorite parts of the workshop was the creative pow wows Erin Sarofsky and Duarte Elvas (Sarofsky's Creative Lead) would launch into as they made the rounds amongst us students. I typically work with my headphones on, but I kept finding myself slipping my bose off my ear to eavesdrop on these AMAZING talks Erin, Duarte and the other students would linger on. Hearing those two creatively riff off one another using the students thoughts as the seed was absolutely fascinating to me. Being a remote artist this is something I sincerely wish I had more of in my life. 

By the time Erin and Duarte made it to me, I had been treading water on what felt like a stale concept. After a few minutes of back and forth we had ultimately determined that I needed to pivot. Toward the end of our conversation Erin had mentioned that the initial frames felt CBS, we needed Showtime. This was the PERFECT direction. Knowing exactly what she was shooting for, I set out on a full blown designing spree.

While it was very "light" and creatively energized within the room both days, the chit chat became more subdued the second day. All of us jumped into hustle mode to get as much work done as we could before the cut off point at the end of Sunday. Some of us were still hunting for and honing the right concept while others were on track with an idea that found it's home. Regardless of where we were individually, everyone was in the zone and moving forward. Erin and Duarte would do their rounds, checking in, quick to exchange creative banter. Other than the great dinner between several other School of Motion Alum and myself, this is how a majority of the Sunday went... and it was... AWESOME! 

The following frames are all built around the concept that both our main characters; Brody and Carrie, have fragmented beliefs and personalities. Those "fragments" both hidden and forthright, are represented by using this visual metaphor of ever shifting and manuevering planes within a subtle counter espionage-esque UI graphic treatment. The color became very subdued and with that limited color palette, I was able to play toward some of those more hidden "fragments" within the designs of the characters and their environment. In the end you could boil the concept down to juxtaposition. Juxtaposition of the cultures and locations each character identifies with, juxtaposition in the secret and outward lives each character lives, Juxtaposition of right and wrong, dark and light.

We were encouraged to do a short write-up on our work. So, for lack of a more elegant way of saying it - here's the thing I made:

 

HOMELAND TITLE SEQUENCE

Jordan Bergren


With dynamic camera movements and continually evolving depth in Z-Space, we bring the viewer into this psychological thriller. We reveal the characters and environments of the show through a series of planes and shifting perspectives. We then tease the audience with subtle, metaphorical references to the characters inner and outer workings as well as the world they inhabit.

 

Sarofsky Workshop_Homeland_V2-01
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Sarofsky Workshop_Homeland_V2 Boards

To cap the weekend off we all gathered around the table (fun fact; it was the same table used in the "Friends From College" Main Title Sequence... so good) grabbed a beer, enjoyed some cheese and crackers then kicked back to see what our fellow students came up with. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of both concept and design within the class. In the end I met some amazing people, and got to creatively geek out with a group of talented designers in a studio I greatly admire. Mission accomplished... now, onto the larger task at hand of becoming a professional Main Title Designer... Hopefully I'll have more to write on that at some point down the road!

If you happen to be a fellow Motion Designer or Animator, I can't suggest these workshops enough! For a studio of this caliber to open it's doors as well as it's creative minds to the mograph community is almost unheard of. Do it, do it, do it! It was an experience I'll remember for a long time, and I look forward to the next time I'm back at Sarofsky. 

ANIMATION + DESIGN + DIRECTION

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jbergren@jordanbruce.tv       -      319.360.7929