New York/San Francisco-based content creation/production company Bodega’s Emmy award-winning creative director Haley Geffen teamed up with NBC Sports Group and NBC Sports VP creative director/director Tripp Dixon and visual effects studio Rodeo FX to create the high-energy opening for Super Bowl XLIX, held last night. The open, featuring Carrie Underwood in a virtual Phoenix stadium, set the thrilling and star-studded stage for the matchup between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium.
Having collaborated on the Sunday Night Football open for three consecutive seasons, the Bodega team was well poised to intensify the energy and glitz for Super Bowl XLIX. Geffen and Dixon led a three-day shoot, months in advance of the big game, to capture Underwood’s performance that glamorized the Super Bowl. Bodega worked closely with Rodeo FX to enhance the stage visuals for the stylized concert experience, with dynamic holographic letters emblazoning the Super Bowl logo on the stage. To craft the stage view looking out at the audience, a customized CG rendering of the University of Phoenix Stadium was created to transport viewers straight into the excitement of the game.
“It was great to work with two very talented and collaborative teams,” said Dixon. “We were able to rely on Bodega’s creative energy and prior production experience with the Sunday Night Football open, and combine that with Rodeo FX’s strong visual effects capabilities, fresh perspective and feature film experience.”
Parlaying its extensive visual effects experience in film, TV and advertising, Rodeo FX crafted close to 80 shots, including the CG holographic roman numerals that display behind Underwood and 60,000 simulated fans. The project, led by advertising division creative director André Ü Montambeault, tapped Rodeo FX artists from every division, bringing on concept artists, modellers, senior effects artists and digital compositors from every department to bring the vision to life.
“This is a huge project, the biggest opening in sports,” said Geffen. “When we reviewed the pitches for this project, it was immediately clear to us that we wanted to go with Rodeo FX. We could see the caliber of what they offered and we knew they could make the opening better. André is a creative leader, understands what sells in sports, the NFL and in America. But more than that, he had the imagination to make it come alive.”
The intro consists of both live action shoot footage and archival footage from NFL games, using a wide range of frame rates and cameras. This all came into play for color grading. Rodeo FX aimed to make it all look like it was shot together and intended to flow in a cinematic manner.
“Working with Tripp and Haley, who both have a strong background on such high-profile projects was a privilege,” said Montambeault. “The flamboyant and high-energy opening is the result of everyone’s collaborative effort, as well as the significant contribution of many of our talented and passionate artists.”
Added Geffen, “It’s been such a great experience collaborating with NBC, working together to continue aiming to push the boundaries for sports opens.”