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BEHIND THE LOOK: THE SANDMAN

BEHIND THE LOOK: THE SANDMAN

Picture Shop’s Shane Harris Digs into The Sandman

Netflix brings one of the most highly anticipated and critically acclaimed comic books to the screen with Neil Gaiman’s award-winning DC comic The Sandman. Viewers will follow Sandman (played by Tom Sturridge) as he is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner, setting off a chain of events that alter both the dreaming and waking worlds. Developed and executive produced by Gaiman, showrunner Allan Heinberg, and David S. Goyer, and photographed by George Steel, BSC, Sam Heasman and Will Baldy, the 10-episode, dark fantasy series explores the adventures of the Master of Dreams.

“Technologically, I really think we’re in a place right now where we’re getting to make Sandman in a way that we could not have dreamed of making even 15 years ago, even 10 years ago,” says Gaiman. “So, it’s now possible to make Sandman, but not easy. It’s really hard. But the resources are there, the people are there, the skill set is there, and the determination is there — and the fact is that we now have an entire generation of high-level creative people who have grown up reading Sandman who love it and want to bring it to life with authenticity.”

An essential part of The Sandman production team is Picture Shop Senior Colorist Shane Harris who explains how the many looks for the series had to span centuries. “The story jumps around time periods from early England to modern day,” says Harris. “It depicts a ‘Dreams’ period from the main character being captured and held in captivity, to his release over 100 years later. For early England, we created a really desaturated, period look that is moody with less contrast but also colorful in the dark scenes.”

Harris notes that many of the looks were created to enhance the different mythical characters that are part of the story. “To tell this story based on a graphic novel, we go on a journey with characters named Dream, Desire, Destiny, and Death. Each character having a distinct look that remains in both the real world and fantasy. For example, Desire’s environment is very red and characters here are warm as his domain is depicted to be in the center of a heart. Alternatively, the Sandman is exceptionally light skinned, so he was always more desaturated, almost translucent, which makes him odd.”

Episode One of the series was directed Mike Barker, shot on RED Monstro by Steel. “It was an easy collaboration,” notes Harris. “They were happy with the look that was set as a foundation for the series. Add to that an incredible set and production design, which fueled the period and fantasy feelings depicted in the show.”

Harris handled the color finishing out of Picture Shop’s headquarters in Burbank, completing SDR and HDR grades in Resolve. “I used the highlight tool quite a bit to create mood and softer lighting in many of the sequences. This helped me retain windows and bright areas and helped create a more cinematic look.’

Don Bush handled dailies color and Picture Shop’s Richard Wells was the Online Editor.

“It was thrilling to be part of bringing The Sandman to life,” says Harris. “The comic books are iconic, and the story works brilliantly in both visual terms and filmmaking terms. It’s a difficult challenge to tell such a huge story, with massive and dedicated following, but I think that this has hit the mark, square on.”

“This is Sandman being made for people who love Sandman, by people who love Sandman, and that is so incredible for me,” shares Gaiman. “It’s been so special. I feel like I’m on the cusp and I cannot wait until people see this show.”

You can watch The Sandman on Netflix.