Zoic Blows Up Simon Cowell For X Factor Promo

Fox’s new show The X Factor had a dramatic introduction during the Super Bowl as thousands of Xs came together to form the show host Simon Cowell. The reverse explosion of Cowell was produced by Fox, Three (One) O, Park Village Productions in collaboration with effects powerhouse Zoic Studios.

To create the effect, a variety of plaster forms simulating Simon Cowell legs, torso and head were detonated at high speed (1000-1500 fps) and shot on the Zoic Studios Stage.

A week later on a London sound stage, high-speed principal photography captured multiple angles of Simon Cowell, both static and spinning on a turntable, against an all-black environment with heavy backlight.


Additionally, Simon Cowell was 3D scanned to provide high-resolution textures for the eventual 3D model of his full body. Autodesk Maya was then used to fracture and explode the 3D model.


The compositing challenge was to integrate all the live-action elements from the explosion shoot, principal photography, and CG passes of Simon fracturing shell, individual body parts, and various ‘X’ shapes, to create the illusion of Simon being formed from the ground up. The results were premiered during the Super Bowl and online via social media.


Zoic is an award-winning Digital Studio involved in producing high-end visual effects and animation for feature films, episodic television, commercials, videogames, and interactive media.

Spanning from visual effects, to live action production and specialty shooting, Zoic Studios’s imprint can be seen on Human TargetFringe, and True Blood, spots for ESPN, Killzone 2, Mountain Dew, NASCAR, and Tour de France, as well as numerous gaming projects for EA, Activision, Pandemic and Sony. Zoic Studios has offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Creative Credits

Project: X Factor spot
Client: FOX Broadcasting Company
President of Marketing & Communications: Joe Earley
SVP Design: Michael Vamosy
SVP On Air Promo Creative: Brian Dollenmayer
SVP Marketing & Special Projects, Special Operations: Dean Norris
VP On Air Promo Creative: Barry Alexander
VP Broadcast Design: Justin Owens
Creative Director, On Air Promo Creative: Julio Cabral
Director, Special Projects & Production, Special Ops.: Golareh Safarian
Production Company (US): Three (ONE) O
Executive Producer: Elaine R. Sibert
Director: Norry Niven
Production Company (UK): Park Village Productions
Executive Producer: Nikki Chapman
Senior Producer: Kate Phillips
Line Producer: Mikey Levelle
Visual Effects Company: Zoic Studios
Creative Director: Andrew Orloff
VFX Supervisor: Doug Ludwig
CG Supervisor: Andy Wilkoff
Executive Producer: Gina Fiore
Head of Production: Barbara Genicoff
VFX Producer: Erin Hicke
Compositing Supervisor/Flame compositor: Chris Irving
Lead Compositor: Jon Chesson
Compositor: Johnny Renzulli, Rodrigo Dorsch
3D teaml: Lochlon Johnston, Chris Barischoff, Eric Rosentha
VFX Coordinator: Andrew Gilson
Zoic Stage Production Manager: James Turek
Zoic Stage Special Effects Supervisor: John Stirber
Zoic Stage - Director of Photography: Barry Walton
Zoic Engineering and Render Support: Saker Klippsten, Mike Romey, Paul Ghezzo, An Dang, Jason Bueno, Ramzi Daouk, Marshall Huffman
3D Scanning Company: 4DMax
3D Fracture Software Provided By : Fracture-FX

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