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Behind the Scenes: Crafting Magic for Bud Light x UFC

Creating a TV commercial that captivates millions is no small feat, particularly when it involves iconic brands like Bud Light and the UFC. Today, we’re taking you behind the scenes to explore the intricate work that went into crafting this memorable advertisement. From creating a larger-than-life UFC arena to conjuring up an alien character in a bar, this post will reveal the artistry and technology behind the magic.

The Expanded UFC Arena

The actual UFC arena is relatively small, which posed a challenge for our team. Bud Light envisioned a grander space, reminiscent of Madison Square Garden, filled with electrifying energy. According to Gavin Guerra, the VFX Supervisor, the task started on location in Las Vegas, where detailed measurements of the ring, stands, and relevant camera information were taken.

To achieve the best lighting for the digital rendering, Gavin employed High Dynamic Range Images (HDRIs). This technique captures all the lighting in the room, allowing it to be recreated in 3D animation software—in this case, Unreal Engine.

Crafting the Digital Arena

With the live-action portion completed, it was time to craft the arena digitally. We expanded the environment by thousands of seats in every direction, creating a Digital Matte Painting (DMP) to blend seamlessly with the live-action footage. The real challenge, however, was populating the arena. Thousands of digital models, each with discrete motions, were used to create excited fans, complete with cell phones filming the action.

The final step involved adding custom branding for scoreboards and digital banners. Seamlessly blending these elements with the live-action plate was key to achieving a realistic look.

Once production began, we were tasked with creating an alien character that the “Bud Light Genie” would poof into existence. This character had to adhere to legal restrictions—no youthful appearance, no cuteness, and definitely no pet-like qualities. The goal was to design a cool alien that appeared to be of legal drinking age.

Picture this: live-action scenes in a bar, actors vibing with a pole topped by a stuffed animal for that perfect eyeline with our CG alien. Just like in the arena, we snagged camera data and HDRIs for that consistent lighting magic.

Using the live-action plates as our canvas, we went through multiple rounds of revisions to nail the alien’s performance. The lighting and texture work to make our alien as real as the human actors? Immense. But the result? Seamless. Nice.

The Editor’s Touch

Peter Tarter, our editing wizard, made scene transitions pure magic. “Cutting at the perfect moment in the footage then to a white flash for the transition then back to the footage was what made the magic of the actors appearing,” Peter explains. Each transition had its own flair—whether it was for the “Tall” wish, the “Alien” wish, or the “Dustin Poirier” wish.

Conclusion

Creating the Bud Light and UFC TV commercial was a monumental task that required meticulous planning, advanced tech, and pure creative brilliance. From expanding the UFC arena to designing an alien character, every detail was crafted with precision and care.