NEW YORK CITY — Break + Enter, the film and episodic visual effects division of Nice Shoes (www.niceshoes.com), employed an AWS cloud-based remote workflow for New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.’ new release, The Many Saints of Newark. The film is an origin story of mafia boss Tony Soprano, who James Gandolfini portrayed for six seasons in the HBO series The Sopranos. Directed by Alan Taylor and written by The Sopranos’ creator David Chase, the new release features a young Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini’s son Michael.
Break + Enter delivered true-to-era environments and time periods for the film, which is set in Newark, NJ, in the 1960s. The feature was already in production when the pandemic hit, causing lockdowns and testing the robustness and adaptability of the studio remote-workflow capabilities.
“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 Regentin, the Break + Enter VFX team included executive producer Joyce Boll and VFX creative director Dave Zeevalk. Boll has worked with VFX supervisor Dan Schrecker and VFX producer Colleen Bachman over the years, and the team has developed a shorthand that directly translated into a streamlined workflow.
“Due to the limitations of the pandemic, we had greater collaboration, not just with our New York 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.
The studio worked extensively on seasonal shifts, including transforming several scenes that were 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-plys years ago,” Regentin says.