Five years ago, Sarofsky Corp. president and owner Erin Sarofsky launched her own shop in Chicago, the city she loves, aiming to provide her patent, design-driven production services to leaders in the advertising and entertainment industries worldwide. Over the years, both her reputation and her business have grown, as she has seized opportunities to collaborate with the likes of Anthony and Joe Russo, for whom her first project was creating the main titles for their hit TV series "Community" back in 2009.
With each step forward, Erin has reinvested in her company, and over the past year, the rewards have soared to new heights. Her new Olson Kundig-designed studio opened last year in the West Loop, in what was previously a beat-up, old, barrel-truss building... and that ambitious expansion was extremely timely. Thanks to her longstanding relationship with the Russos, Erin and her colleagues were invited to Marvel Studios to pitch on the main-on-end titles for the "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" blockbuster, and as the world now knows, they won.
Until now, the only way to see Sarofsky's actual main-on-end title sequence for "Captain America" was on the big screen, where the film has now grossed over $700 million worldwide since its April 4th U.S. debut. At last, coinciding with today's Blu-ray release of the film, Erin and her team can now finally show and detail their work.
It's worth noting that over the past five months, the company has done a lot to expand its own superpowers. Thanks to further investments on Erin's part, Sarofsky made it onto Disney/Marvel's top-tier approved vendor list. And in case you haven't heard, Sarofsky also designed the main titles for Marvel's phenomenal "Guardians of the Galaxy," which just surpassed "Captain America" as the top grossing film of 2014.
"We are striving to be a creative powerhouse on a global level," Erin explained. "What's great about these projects from a business standpoint is that they have elevated our visibility. They've given us the type of notoriety that's hard to achieve over a whole career... let alone over our five-year run. So now, looking forward, I'm excited to see how we continue to evolve."
The Win
According to Erin, her great working relationship with the Russos is the reason she was invited to pitch for the "Captain America" main-on-end titles. However, she knew she was the underdog and that the competition was of the absolute highest order. She screened the film in LA, then diligently went about organizing her response to the wide-open creative brief. 
"With this film, Anthony and Joe produced a narrative that evokes 1970's conspiracy thriller cinema," she said. "With that in mind, we wanted to create a main-on-end title sequence that acknowledged their inspiration but was interpreted with more modern sensibilities. So we worked within a visual style that has simple, graphic compositions with strong, legible typography. This look is a clear nod to the spy style and political thriller title design of the 60s and 70s."
Much to her surprise and delight, of the eight directions presented, the team chose the treatment that Erin personally worked on with illustrative support from David Mack, a noted comic book artist. It was not only the creative approach that won the day, but also Erin's history of coming through brilliantly for the Russos and her confidence about handling some other key challenges.
Before work could begin, the Sarofsky team had to rapidly adopt some major infrastructure and on-site security upgrades. Beyond adding security cameras, key-fobbing the finishing suite and server room, and adding a second enterprise-class server with segregated workstations, they also installed a new Autodesk Smoke system to enable real-time monitoring of their 4K stereoscopic files.
With these measures in place and ready to rock, Erin serving as main-on-end title director and lead designer, and a stellar crew that grew to include more than 20 artists, technicians and producers, the Sarofsky team set out to make history.
The Production
The artistic vision of the winning treatment put Erin and her colleagues in familiar territory, creating stylish, thoughtful animation that heightens viewers' experiences in watching feature content. However, the challenge of delivering both in 2D and stereo 3D was a new one for their operation, as was the ability to view the 4K stereo files for internal reviews.
As a result, the team relied on RV from Tweak Software for playback, which reportedly handled the stereo flawlessly. They also used Autodesk Smoke for conforming and playback to a 4K 3D television monitor. That toolset worked great with their existing pipeline, which was designed around Adobe After Effects, The Foundry's Nuke, Maxon's Cinema 4D, and Softimage.
Discussing the feedback process, Erin praised Marvel as a well-oiled machine, where the depth of talent and positive energy provide clear reasons for the success of its films. "The key decision makers all have very refined perspectives," she said. "They know what they like."
Finally, Erin commented on her takeaways from this experience. "As a designer in the main title arena, working on Marvel movies is as big as it gets. Having the opportunity to work at this level is where we all hope our careers will take us. As a business owner, I'm really proud to have been able to provide this opportunity to each of the talented artists and producers that worked on this project, and I'm excited to see how their careers are impacted by it in the long run."
Complete credits for the "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" main-on-end titles include producer Erik Crary, CG supervisor Andre Zazzera, co-visual effects supervisors Matthew Crnich and John Filipkowski, illustrator and concept artist David Mack, co-editors Josh Bodnar and Steven Piet, executive producer Rachel Steele, CG artists Patrick Coleman, Duarte Elvas, Tinizsi Gadegbeku, Nick Hopkins, Alex Kline, Xiu Sheng Liang, Cameron Spencer, and Tnaya Witmer, associate producer Michael Burke, digital artist Jenine Early, technology consultant Mike Moe, stereo consultant Rob Engle, production manager Halley Winer, production coordinator Katie Bates and production assistant Brent Austin.
To view this project and learn more about Sarofsky Corp., please visit
About Sarofsky Corp.
Director, creative director and designer Erin Sarofsky launched Sarofsky Corp. in Chicago in 2009 to provide her patent, design-driven production services to leaders in the advertising and entertainment industries worldwide. Today, Sarofsky's staff artists use animation, visual effects, computer graphics and live-action to collaborate with illustrious clientele from concept to delivery, producing work that is visceral, innovative and diverse. With artistry that heightens audience impact through sublime commercials, brand films, title sequences and much more, Sarofsky's reputation for breakthrough design, its proven cross-media production expertise, and its fabulous Olson Kundig-designed studio in Chicago's West Loop are all key components of the attraction. Learn more at