BREAK + ENTER, the film and episodic visual effects division of Nice Shoes, has delivered one of its first AWS cloud-based remote pipeline workflows for The Many Saints of Newark, released today by New Line Cinema | Warner Bros.
The film, an origin story of the complicated Mafia boss who was originally played by the late James Gandolfini for six seasons in HBO’s groundbreaking series, is directed by Alan Taylor and written by The Sopranos creator David Chase. Recreating Newark of the 1960s and filmed across the New York metropolitan area, it features a young Tony Soprano played by Gandolfini’s son, Michael. “It’s bittersweet to see him take on the younger version of the character his father built into a cultural icon,” says BREAK + ENTER Executive Producer Joyce Boll. BREAK + ENTER delivered true-to-era environments and time periods lending credibility to the filmmakers’ visual storytelling.
It was a great win for BREAK + ENTER to work on the much-anticipated prequel. The feature was already in progress as pandemic lockdowns rippled through production, truly testing the robustness and adaptability of B+E’s remote workflows. “Tons of companies have their own ‘quick pivot to remote’ stories that resulted from the pandemic,” says Visual Effects Supervisor Gabriel Regentin. “But I think ours really differed in that we used the moment as a springboard to examine what was really possible and what we could do even better in a remote environment. The results were new and better scalable technology that enabled faster and consistent results, a big plus for a project like this where there was a massive schism between the funds available for the new workflow and the tight schedule to deliver.” In addition to Boll and Regentin, BREAK + ENTER’s VFX team includes Visual Effects Creative Director Dave Zeevalk.
As a studio, BREAK + ENTER is in the unique position of being able to adapt swiftly to new workflows while tapping the many talents of the industry veterans on staff. BREAK + ENTER’s Boll has enjoyed working with VFX Supervisor Dan Schrecker and VFX Producer Colleen Bachman over the years and the team has developed a shorthand that directly translates into streamlined workflows. “Due to the limitations of the pandemic, we had greater collaboration not just with our NY artists but with above-the-line technology talent across many time zones, allowing us to enlarge our talent pool while our projects could remain secure and our artists safe,” says Regentin.
BREAK + ENTER worked extensively on seasonal shifts, including transforming several scenes shot in the summer into winter environments. Beach dunes became snow drifts and trees and bushes were dusted with fresh snow. “We also remade many of the landscapes with period digital mattes, changing out the modern street and building details that didn’t exist 50+ years ago,” Regentin says.
Parent company Nice Shoes has invested tremendous support to ensure BREAK+ENTER’s success. “It’s incredible for a company to take the tremendous risk in rebuilding a completely new pipeline during the pandemic,” Boll adds. “We are thrilled to deliver high-profile projects as a result of these efforts.”
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