The joint effort marked consecutive Super Bowl appearances for TBL after it produced content for last year's half-time headliner and longtime client Beyoncé. Super Bowl XLVIII - the most-watched TV event in U.S. history - introduced a new twist: attendees wore specially designed hats equipped with LED technology provided by Montreal-based company PixMob. The hats were remotely controlled to collectively form a massive LED screen on which TBL's media was projected.
Creative Director Andy Jennison led TBL's creative team. A musician himself, Jennison says Bruno Mars' "music-first" mentality as a pop star inspired the visualization process. For instance, in designing the LED display for Bruno Mars' big drum solo, he "used MetLife Stadium as a drum kit," lighting up various sections representing the kick, snare, cymbals, etc.
"We wanted everyone in attendance to have a great time and enjoy this technology, and for all of the people at home to say, 'Wow, it must be amazing to be there,'" remarks Jennison. "It's an unprecedented way of presenting interactive content in live venues."
Tasked to visually enhance the live ceremonies and performances, as well as to electrify the fan-experience for millions of TV viewers, TBL worked closely with Ricky Kirshner, executive producer, Touchdown Entertainment, as well as independent creative director/choreographer Jamie King and Bruno Mars' creative director/lighting designer LeRoy Bennett. TBL was also charged with creating Pepsi branding via the animated halftime show intro.
Pre-visualizing large-scale content for MetLife Stadium presented the TBL team with technical challenges from the outset. They first built a model of the stadium in 3D compositing software. All of the content was then animated in After Effects and plastered on the model for testing.
"We had to start small and everything had to be precisely scaled," elaborates Jennison. "I also wanted to establish the best-case scenario early on if everyone had their LED caps on. We pixelated the seating charts accordingly and fed that data into the 3D model."
Anticipating intangibles such as audience movement, empty seats or a hatless fan, TBL conducted extensive R&D to fine tune the definition of the content as well as to lay out their margins of error. Pedini and Jennison were also on hand for the live rehearsals and in attendance at the game to sign off on the projections before the lights went down.
"Fortunately, everything went off without a hitch," concludes Pedini. "The Super Bowl is the biggest stage in the world, and it was our job to make Bruno, Pepsi, the NFL, and everyone involved look good. Is that a lot of pressure? You bet. Is it all worth it? Absolutely! To stand on that field and see our work going on all around us - there's nothing better."