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Meet The Team Behind The Projections At Madonna's Super Bowl 2012 Halftime Show

We all knew that the 2012 Super Bowl XLVI halftime show was going to be one for the history books—word circulated early on that Madonna and Cirque du Soleil were involved and, well, it’s the Super Bowl. Epicness is pretty much written in its DNA. So it came as no surprise to learn that one of our former collaborators, Moment Factory, were responsible for creating the dazzling projections that helped transform the field into a brand new visual environment with each new song on the setlist.

Moment Factory are a Montreal-based multimedia design studio whose work you might recall from Chris Milk’s now legendary LED ball drop during Arcade Fire’s set at Coachella last year. Their mission is to bring people together for powerful entertainment experiences that take place in the physical world and, as their name might imply, create memorable moments that have the ability to transport and transform.

When Cirque du Soleil got in touch asking them to help out on the visuals for the halftime show, the Moment Factory team was quick to jump on the opportunity, but found it to be one of the most challenging projects they’ve worked on to date.

“It’s quite complex to design something for the Super Bowl,” says Moment Factory’s Creative Director Sakchin Bessette. “There are so many restrictions with working on the field and you only have seven minutes to set up. When we came on board, there was already a stage design but there wasn’t really much of a concept. We really participated in developing it. We thought video projection was an efficient way to make a strong spectacle—if all the projections are organized, it means less stuff to bring on the field—but at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to create a visual world.”

Bessette and his team created several different environments for the performance, transforming the field at Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana into an Egyptian-inspired, Cleopatra-style procession with hieroglyphic structures, a fashion homage splashed with VOGUE covers, a boom-box, and more. Many of the visual elements responded to the dance choreography, transitioning between scenes and songs with the flick of Madonna’s wrist or a kick of her stilettoed leather boot.

“On TV people didn’t get the whole thing because of the way the shots were cut,” explains Bessette. “In a way, we had to almost create two shows—one for the audience in the stadium and the other for the viewers at home. We worked very closely with the TV producer to make sure that everything we were doing on the field would translate to the screen.”

The entire visual spectacle required 32 HD projectors to cover the length of the field and Moment Factory had about 10-12 team members working on the project at any given time. “It was quite complex because the resolution is so very big. It was 18 times normal HD resolution, so the files were huge and difficult to manage, but it was worth it to be able to do the optical illusions we did,” says Bessette.

No matter what your position is on Madonna’s performance or M.I.A.‘s now infamous primetime flip-off, you’ve gotta give it to the Moment Factory guys—this is one moment many of us won’t soon forget.

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