Stefan Sonnenfeld

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When Sonnenfeld and partner Mike Pethel launched Company 3 in 1997, colorists—like editors before the advent of the Avid—were largely seen as faceless inhabitants of soulless postproduction "facilities." Ten years later, Sonnenfeld finds himself registering as #41 on Entertainment Weekly's list of "Hollywood's Smartest People." "I was very excited to see that because what it meant was that people in our business recognize that we were relevant to the process," he says. "That's what was so rewarding." Long the go-to guy for high-end commercials work—which still represents 70 percent of Company 3's bicoastal business, and a large chunk of Sonnenfeld's projects (which in 2007 included most of Apple's commercials and effects extravaganzas like "Snowball" for Travelers Insurance, out of Fallon, Minneapolis)—Sonnenfeld has ridden a wave of directors who relied on his boutique for commercials and music videos, and insisted on using Company 3 when turning their hands to features. Sonnenfeld helped set the look for Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Carribean cycle, Michael Bay's Transformers, and Zack Snyder's ultra-stylized 300. These projects, meanwhile, helped revolutionize postproduction around an entirely digital workflow, with effects that have reverberated back in the advertising world.

On his proudest accomplishment: "The thing that I feel proud about is we definitely put ourselves on the map in terms of showing how important the process was.We've managed to show people that it's an important art form, that it's integral to the process of postproduction and—quite frankly—we can help make a project successful."

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