Sarofsky Creates Dazzling 3D Greenhouse Master Titles for The Staircase | Chicago Reel

Main Titles From Sarofsky’s Dazzling 3D Glass House For HBO Max Limited Series The staircase are so captivating that it will make you go back to take another look.

Inspired by a true story, the eight-episode Max Original limited series The staircasedebuted Thursday, May 5 on HBO Max.

The staircase explores the life of Michael Peterson (Colin Firth), his sprawling North Carolina family, and the suspicious death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette). Created by Antonio Campos who also directs six episodes, The staircase is co-produced by Annapurna Television, and written and produced by co-showrunners Fields and Maggie Cohn. For the series’ gripping main title sequence, Campos, Cohn and their colleagues turned to a one-stop cross-media production company. Sarofsky.

Cinematically introducing the series’ main credits, the narrative begins in black, as a white line traces a staircase. Changing scale with sleight of hand techniques, the line drawing becomes a three-dimensional floor plan, rendered with photorealistic glass. Inside the transparent walls are human forms resembling Michael and his family members. Prowling voyeuristically, glass furniture and artefacts kaleidoscopically refract, varying between starkness and abstraction, until luminous patterns resolve into dark staircases. From a top-down view of the 3D Glass House, the cutaways juxtapose top-down, male-to-female, and togetherness in seclusion, eventually receding to fully view the iconic setting of the series, then swooping back to find the single white line of the notorious staircase and the title of the series.

Here are the main titles of the HBO Max limited series The staircase. Enjoy!

In the words of Campos“We always hoped that the main title sequence would help establish the complicated family dynamics at play while capturing the themes of the series. The sequence does that, but more importantly, presents these Eschers as impossible spaces and depicting the interior of the house as a maze – which is built and then deconstructed over the course of the sequence – it really presents a lens through which audiences can view the series in a visually exciting way.

Working closely with Campos and Cohn, this project was another tantalizing assignment for the Executive Creative Director. Erin Sarofskycreative director Stefan Drahtgeneral manager/executive producer Steven Andersonand Sarofsky team.

According to Sarofsky’s account, preliminary discussions with the showrunners led them to focus on a few specific angles: first, they wanted to explore the house both as an investigator and as a place where a family was raised; second, as a complex story with varying theories bringing mystery and complexity at every turn; and finally, the fact that everything in Michael’s life fuels the mystery around that staircase.

ALSO READ: Erin Sarofsky Takes Us Behind The Scenes Of WeCrashed’s Opening Titles

“Thematically, Antonio and Maggie focused on the layering and complexity that the show struggles with,” Draht started. “Aspects of this include the lack of clarity around the main plot, the importance of different character perspectives, and family dynamics. The idea of ​​using the staircase as a visual element was an open question, which we prompted people to think about ways to avoid the obvious solutions.

Among the concepts presented, the leaders of the show immediately adopted a representation of the family home in the form of a glass model. To humanize the concept without spoiling the narrative or plot, Sarofsky’s creatives diligently translated relationships and interactions into moods and abstractions. “Antonio and Maggie were excellent collaborators throughout the process”, Sarofsky added. “Antonio constantly pushed us to explore even more surreal and Escher-like approaches, describing the goal as wanting viewers to feel the complex journey ahead, while being confident that the show will take them through. “

In a glass house

Draht led a detailed presentation of Sarofsky’s production process behind this sequence. “Like many of our title sequences,” he said, “the concepts all started in Adobe Photoshop and evolved from six to nine concept frames, to about 40 framesets.” Apparently, these detailed charts chronicle the broad arc, allowing show executives to preview the studio’s proposed solution. This is followed by hand-drawn storyboards to further refine content and better convey transitions from shot to shot.

Sarofsky Team

Sarofsky’s project credits also include producer Dylan Ptackeditor Tom Pastoraldesigner/animators Andrea Braga, Tricia Kleinot, Cat McCarthy, Dean Ripper, Nik Braatz, Oskar Fülöp, Jake Thomasand Tanner Wickwarewith final color and finish courtesy of Sarofsky’s Visual Effects and Finishing Supervisor, Cory Davis. Many designers/animators were tasked with studying the glass in depth, with the goal of producing compelling 3D results.

“The huge challenge with a material like glass is rendering time: how long it will take to produce a clean 4K frame,” Draht continued. “For this reason, we opted for GPU-based rendering solutions, which was necessary to allow our artists to preview materials during the look development phase.”

After testing several renderers, the team settled on OTOY Octane Render, which Draht considers essential to meet its delivery schedule. All 3D animations were created using Maxon Cinema4D, with 2D animation and compositing handled in Adobe After Effects. Davis performed final color grading and finishing via Autodesk Flame.

According to Sarofsky“Working on a main title sequence for HBO Max is the absolute ambition of every main title designer and studio. We were touched by this opportunity and now we are impressed with the result. HBO Max is truly a place that takes support creating amazing content.

“It’s an ambitious creative direction to take with a title sequence, and we’re thrilled with the support Antonio, Maggie and HBO Max have provided to continue pushing the concept,” Anderson concluded.

The staircase is co-produced by Annapurna Television and written and produced by Antonio Campos and Maggie Cohn, who also serve as showrunners. Campos directed six episodes and Leigh Janiak directed two episodes.

To learn more about The staircaseplease see Sarofsky’s case study on and


Studio: HBOMax
Director: Antonio Campos
Runners of the show: Antonio Campos, Maggie Cohn
Producer: Christina M. Fitzgerald

Design/production company: Sarofsky
Executive Creative Director: Erin Sarofsky
Executive Producer: Steven Anderson
Creative Director: Stefan Draht
Producer: Dylan Ptack
Editor: Tom Pastorelle
Finisher: Cory Davis
3D animation: Nik Braatz, Andrea Braga, Oskar Fülöp, Dean Ripper, Jake Thomas, Tanner Wickware
Typographer: Cat McCarthy
Concept development: Andrea Braga, Stefan Draht, Cat McCarthy
Storyboard artist: Tricia Kleinot

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