For this year’s Sunday Night Football open, Los Angeles-based King + Country traveled to Las Vegas – home to the 2024 Super Bowl – to give the all-new sequence the feel of a true spectacle.
King + Country collaborated with Tripp Dixon, director and creative director at NBC Sports, to create the sequence at the World Resorts stage where star Carrie Underwood is performing her “Reflection” Las Vegas residency. K+C contributed design, animation and visual effects.
“The technology at the venue is this state of the art, and her world-class crew helped us every step of the way,” said Rick Gledhill, creative director and partner at King + Country, in a statement. “With strategic VFX and post set extensions, we transformed her indoor stage performance into a massive arena show. The shoot was an impressively well-oiled machine that included a performance on the stage, crowd plates and a blue-screen shoot backstage.”
The open begins with a lighting display as the stage, screens, and lighting halo power up. Underwood is lowered to the stage, surrounded by athletes on huge screens. The stage erupts in a display of light as the song kicks in, using computer-generated (CG) set pieces, crowd extensions and a CG halo light array. The halo lighting rig was created entirely in CG – a fusion of stadium oculus and arena lighting truss, which served not only as a CG lighting system but also as a platform to showcase each week’s topical footage.
“Light and lighting play such key role in the concept, we treated it almost like a character itself as it changed and morphed to lead us through the open,” said Andrew Cook, K+C VFX supervisor, also in a statement. “The stage set was illuminated with dozens of moving spotlights, resulting in a highly dynamic light show. However, incorporating CGI elements into this environment posed a significant challenge. The light beams would appear disjointed if they intersected with the added CGI components. Addressing these issues demanded meticulous pre-planning and choreography to ensure that the lights were strategically positioned, allowing for seamless set extensions.”
From there, the camera leaves the arena and travels to other cities. That’s interspersed with high-energy clips from NFL games.
“A project like Sunday Night Football requires more than just a VFX partner. It requires a multi-skilled and battle-tested team that can navigate the entire production process from concepting and previz through VFX and post,” said Ryan Lowrie, producer at K+C, also in a statement. “All the hard work paid off after the first airing as the social channels blew up with comments from delighted fans of Sunday Night Football.”
“I’m immensely proud of our partnership with NBC Sports,” said Jerry Torgerson, executive producer and partner at K+C. “Each project we’ve worked on together stands the test of time. Sunday Night Football this year brilliantly showcases three unique pieces we created: the show open, the kickoff show and the halftime show.
The open debuted on Sunday, September 10 on NBC and Peacock.
Client: NBC Sports
Agency: King + Country
Post Director + Creative Director: Rick Gledhill
Post Executive Producer: Jerry Torgerson
Post Producer: Ryan Lowrie
VFX Supervisor: Andrew Cook
Designer/Animators: KA Batcha, Tom Kenney, Hugo Codinach, Josh Lewis, Rafael Monguilhott, Sorin Voicu, Jason Guerrero, Edgar Zavala
Nuke + Houdini operators: Rachel Choi, Scott Crawford, Sorie Conteh