Sarofsky X Peacemaker: glam metal, neon fonts & dance to the type for James Gunn's HBO hit series
Writer/director James Gunn’s new “The Suicide Squad” spinoff “Peacemaker” successfully debuted on HBO Max last month, famously introducing yet another of the filmmaker’s iconic, buzz-worthy, music-driven title sequences.
In this latest pairing with the creatives and producers from one-stop cross-media production company Sarofsky, star John Cena’s Peacemaker character performs a show-stopping dance number with his co-stars, colorfully setting the stage for the epic and the unexpected.
Led by Executive Creative Director Erin Sarofsky, Creative Lead Duarte Elvas, and Managing Director/Executive Producer Steven Anderson, Sarofsky also created custom titles, typography, and visual effects for “The Suicide Squad,” and for both “Guardians of the Galaxy” volumes.
Referring to the illustrious director who has become such a frequent collaborator, Sarofsky explained, “We love collaborating with James. He is so unique and has a real vision… and we feel lucky to be on the same creative page with him so often. There is a trust and a shorthand built up at this point, that we don’t take for granted.”
For the highly acclaimed Max Original series exploring the origins of a vainglorious man dedicated to peace at any cost, Gunn conceived and filmed a choreographed dance routine with the entire cast, set to the glam metal track “Do You Wanna Taste It” by Norwegian band Wig Wam. With the music as inspiration, the designers homed-in on a typographic treatment to nail the series’ bad-ass aesthetic.
“Duarte was an All-Star on this,” Sarofsky confirmed. “He got to be very hands-on, and it shows with the precision and type mastery.”
Beginning with typography Sarofsky’s online case study details the studio's design contributions to one of the season's tv hits.
Sarofsky, the company behind the onscreen titles for The Suicide Squad, took inspiration from the series' hair metal soundtrack by researching band logos and concert posters for the genre.
Glam metal (also called hair metal, pop metal, hair bands and lite metal) is a subgenre of heavy metal that features pop-influenced hooks and guitar riffs, upbeat rock anthems, and slow power ballads. It borrows heavily from the fashion and image of 1970s glam rock.
Team Sarofksy found many of these to be "nearly illegible", and needed a font that evoked the style while being readable for the audience.
“A lot of typography from that genre, while stunning visually, is nearly illegible,” Elvas said. “As title designers, legibility is essential. When we discovered New Zelek, we were able to typeset it to do the job perfectly! It has the angular, geometric feel we were looking for, and the letterforms are clear and familiar enough that one can read the words effortlessly.”
“We also created a really cool treatment with a glowing outline,” Sarofsky added. “That look was painstakingly explored to match the set design and genre, and heighten legibility. It all looks so intentional and just as it should be, and that’s because of the hours put into making it just so.”
To complement the bold statements made by New Zelek in neon, Josefin Sans is used in white for all secondary typography. Also worth noting, discriminating viewers will notice several moments in the dance sequence where the designers introduced subtle interactions between dancers and type.
As with Gunn’s other superhero action features, Sarofsky once again created custom title cards. For “Peacemaker,” this includes “previously on” and episode title cards to be used throughout the season.
Designing and setting type with Adobe Illustrator, After Effects is Sarofsky’s main tool for look development, layouts, and animation.
For Peacemaker’s main titles, Sarofsky’s handled typesetting, visual effects, and final compositing. Studio credits for “Peacemaker” also include Producer Dylan Ptak and Designer Chris Rodriguez.
“For this project, we developed some alternate approaches that we loved, that did not make the final,” Anderson concluded.
“It’s yet another time where we are left wishing they could have used everything.”
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