South African team Chocolate Tribe and Greg Gray partner to create Super Bowl ad for Pringles

We go behind the VFX scenes with Chocolate Tribe to find out more about the astronomical task of creating a commercial for the most coveted advertising stage in the world, the Super Bowl. With two and a half months to prepare and only three and a half weeks to complete post-production from receipt of final edit to delivery, Chocolate Tribe had to make every second count. And oh…by the way, most of the production was done in South Africa, from casting to filming right up to VFX. Grading was handled in New York. A huge touchdown for Saffas!

Briefed in by Grey Group in New York, the idea is wonderfully playful; two astronauts emerge from their lunar pod drifting on the ocean after returning from a space journey. They attempt to grab the attention of Mission Control as well as a passing fishing vessel, but all attempts are in vain. Both crews on Mission Control and the fishing boat are far too distracted by their Pringles stacking creations. So, for the astronauts – no heroes’ welcome, no adoring fans, no parades just stale crackers and the deep blue sea.

Since seeing is believing, don’t just read about this ad, feast your eyes on it so we can get down to the business of how the hell they pulled it all off…

Pringles ‘Space Return’ commercial

Preparing for and executing an ad that will air during one of the biggest commercial showcases in the world must come with some wild-ass pressure. For Chocolate Tribe and director Greg Gray from Romance Films, this was luckily not their first rodeo. The teams have collaborated on several award-winning commercials in the past and knew that planning would be key to pulling off the amount of VFX needed to make this spot look believable.

Behind the scenes video of Pringles ‘Space Return’ commercial

A large amount of the commercial was CGI done by Chocolate Tribe

The biggest CGI task was the creating of the interior and exterior of the lunar pod. The team had an actual custom-built capsule drifting out in the ocean, which Chocolate Tribe then had to completely replace in post with a more detailed version. The actual shoot took place in a pontoon at sea.

IDIDTHAT: Wait, you actually shot that in the sea, like on the open waters?

Rob van den Bragt (Chocolate Tribe’s  ECD & VFX Supervisor): I am a firm believer in doing as much as possible in camera as it gives your actors something to work with. It is more authentic. We further chose to shoot in open waters because the water quality is different than say in a harbour. A 40sqm pontoon was prepped to film on the waters surrounding Cape Town. It was a surreal experience sharing a floating set with a film crew and a giant crane for 4 days. Talk about cabin fever!

Q: How did you get the pod to look so real?

Tiaan Franken (Chocolate Tribe’s Executive Technical Director): A basic pod-shaped floating device was built for the actors to physically interact with. The whole top of the pod was then re-created in CGI, as well as the cladding and the balloons. We had to create multiple versions of the pod to show the process of aging over the period the astronauts are stranded at sea. You’ll notice the balloons deflate and the corrosion on the metal to emphasise the passing of time. The astronauts interact a lot with the pod and there were a lot of CG elements that were super close to them. All these elements need to blend seamlessly. We needed to make sure the interactions cut correctly without any shading issues or mismatching colour. It was important that everything looked real.

Rob: Even the interior of the pod, as you can see in ‘the making of’ video, was completely done in 3D. The actor is sitting in a chair with a green screen behind him and boards of wood around him. This method of filming allowed us to save on detailed set builds and time, a method we also used on previous projects with Greg Gray, such as Volkswagen Polo ‘Beware the Confidence’.

Q: You had us fooled, is that not a real ship?!

Rob: We created the exterior of the ship from scratch in 3D. If you look at a photo or footage of the ocean, the distances and scales are so deceiving. The horizon might be 20km away, but you have to consider there is a curvature to that horizon. This added another element to making the ship look real. It can all be quite mind-blowing.

Tiaan: We worked with about 6 buoys that were placed in the ocean at the 100 and 200m mark line from the pod. Having these measurements helped us plot the dimensions and get a sense of the direction of the waves so that we could make the ship fit into this world.

Q: Working with the agency in New York, Greg Gray in Cape Town and Chocolate Tribe based in Johannesburg must have been complicated, how did you coordinate it?

Tiaan: We have worked remotely on countless projects over the last 4 years. Some of the films and commercials being Robot and Scarecrow, Penny, Cognition, Kissing Booth 2, Black Beauty and Showmax’s Ali for example. We are completely geared for working remotely. We did all reviews remotely with the team in New York and Cape Town, and it was seamless. For us, location is not a hurdle for collaboration.

Rob: We are currently busy on another job with Greg in Cape Town and we are screening everything live to them. Although I do miss clients in our space and not only staring at Tiaan the whole day…

Tiaan: Hey!

You can’t talk about this Pringles spot without mentioning the incredible cast of characters that bring it all to life – Greg Gray on point, as usual, *clapping wildly* And finally, a shoutout from us to Chocolate Tribe for shining a light on the talent within our borders 🇿🇦

Contact Chocolate Tribe

Phone: +27 (11) 327-6346

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Produced by the IDIDTHAT Content Studio – Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder

*This content may not be reproduced or used in any part without the prior written consent of IDIDTHAT. Reprints must credit I DID ( as the original publisher of this editorial piece and include a link to this site.

This Editorial is paid for by The Chocolate Tribe. Want our studio to create content that puts your agency/company/kickass ad you made in bright lights for the whole industry to see? View or editorial packages or contact and we’ll make it happen! #Boom