KTVU Legacy Spot – Motion Tracking

Branding yourself as an “expert” is an effective marketing technique. Doing it without being obnoxious, requires a subtle approach. With the concept that true experts tend to be around forever. We decided to spread the message, “we’ve been here forever, we will be here forever.” With that and an itch to try motion tracking, the concept of the Legacy Spot was born.

To illustrate timelessness, I came up with the concept of multiple panels that we could have the talent walk around, like a historic wall of photographs. This time no fancy talent interacting with holograms.

Motion Tracking

New Skills Learned: Multipoint Tracking and Sewing?

I’d always wanted to construct modular walls, so that helped spark the idea. I’d not yet done a huge tracking and green screen project like this and wanted to use static photos. Bobee Padilla, the Art Director for KICU suggested using a vast number of tracking dots and placing footage in post. I had seen the demo of After Effects’ new tracking tools at the NAB/ProMax trade show in Vegas, despite previous attempts at tracking with earlier versions of the tool, we were convinced we could use it. Four days before the crew was scheduled to come in, we did a couple of tests just to make sure. I’m not going to lie, the first go round was not the prettiest, but the power was realized.

Good storytelling, starts with a good idea… and a fine tooth table saw?

Now it was time to build a set. During one of our morning meetings, I sketched out my idea on the back of a nielson’s ratings chart. Different forms of media, from still photos to ipad tablets, would be bracketed at varying intervals to a plexiglass wall. As a sketch it looked easily doable. It would take me a few long nights at the table saw, and wrenching parts together to make it a reality. This was just the beginning though.

We also removed the video tube internals of an old television, and over another lost weekend, I created my modular walls using two equipment racks, some p95 plexiglass, and green cloth on gatorfoam. This was extremely beneficial as the morning of our prep day, our studio was being used for a retail shoot. We would be pressed to get everything into the studio let alone have much time to fine tune and rearrange the set.

Adjusting the Dolly TrackWhen the retail crew finished, we wheeled the walls into position, our lighting guy got to work adjusting his kinoflow lights, and our photographers grips started assembling the camera dolly and track. The curved dolly track was new to me. If you check the opening shot you can see it all come together. Frank steps out from behind the wall, as our camera smoothly pans into position while slowly zooming out the lens. If you’ve ever tracked a point and replace it with something else, you know how difficult that is. In the end, it is a good move, nice and smooth, and the video elements all track and matte beautifully.
A combination of good lighting, powerful tools, and people who know how to use them can make something which is very complex, look simple.

Keep in mind all those videos were motion tracked after the fact.

The content of course tells much of the story remembering our goal is to instill a feel of permanence and longevity. The mixture of old video footage, use of new technology, and even the ending with a all the logos transitioning from one generation to the next, tell this story.

(Behind the scenes photographs by Morgan Thompson)

Behind the Camera


Enjoyed this post? Check out my television quick turn around animation, Undercover Assignment РAfter Effects

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