Digital Domain Takes On UFC
February 3, 2012

Digital Domain Takes On UFC

LOS ANGELES — Zuffa, LLC, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brand, called on Digital Domain to create a new show open that will debut during the February 4th Pay-Per-View event, UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit.
The :60 second piece combines archival footage of iconic UFC bouts mapped into imagined backgrounds that illustrate how mixed martial arts has evolved. The piece includes a score by film composer/music producer Hans Zimmer, through his company 14th St. Music. 

“The UFC is heading into a new chapter and taking the brand to the next level,” said Dana White, UFC President. “We’ve had the same show open for the last nine years and with this monumental FOX deal, and the global expansion of the UFC, we wanted to come up with a new show open that paid tribute to the fighters who helped us build the business and grow the sport.”

When Digital Domain first met with White, he wanted a new show open that conveyed the full breadth of the UFC’s history while also showcasing the various fighting disciplines represented by the stars of the sport. Huxley, a director with Digital Domain’s Mothership, came up with the concept of illustrating UFC’s rise from the gym to the mega-stadium as a metaphor for the ascent of the sport.

Huxley started by sifting through hours of archival footage and working with White to identify the 29 seminal fights, of which 18 made it into the piece. Digital artists worked with Huxley to remove the fighters from backgrounds in the archival clips while an animation team began building CG environments and set pieces. 

Once an animation was locked, the Digital Domain team tracked and animated 3D digital human models, lining them up precisely with the fighters’ motion, to enable the simulation of real-world lighting and seamless matching of the fighters into CG environments. Digital Domain employed a team of 20 artists to complete this project in ten weeks.