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For the 2014 World Cup we were asked by IMG San Francisco to produce a highlights video for match sponsor, VISA.
Of course, we jumped at the chance of travelling out to Rio to get some lovely shots of footballers and beaches.
But there was a catch. We wouldn’t be going anywhere, and the only assets we would have would be still images of the action.
However, we’d produced an earlier motion graphics piece for IMG and VISA for the Confederation Cup in 2013 and this included several ‘super slow-motion’ sequences made up of animated stills, so we were confident that we could pull off something special.
We were given access to the press image bank, into which all the match photos were uploaded, day by day.

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Managing Project Files

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One highly dedicated team member was charged with watching all of the matches and identifying the key moments from each day’s play. We then went through the image bank, selecting images that were striking and clear enough to animate. We also had the added criteria of trying to show each team in the World Cup at least once through the film.
Each member of the team was then assigned three or four selected images a day and sat down in front of Photoshop to pull the images apart.

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Photoshop Magic – Rotoscoping objects

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For each image we had to isolate the players, the ball, pitch, advertising boards and crowds onto separate layers. This, of course, left large holes in the image which we then had to carefully fill with some clever Photoshop tricky (or sometimes it wasn’t so clever, but good enough that we knew we would get away with it!).
We did this day by day throughout the tournament, each image taking anything up to four hours to prepare.
It became inevitable that work we had done early on in the games would get left behind as better shots came along, so around 30% of the images we edited were left on the ‘cutting room floor’.
As the tournament neared its end, we began to animate the images.

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After Effects – Distributing 3d layers in space

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Each one was imported into After Effects and the individual layers distributed in 3d space – rather like a pop-up book. A camera was added to the scene and the layers lined up so that the final image matched the original. Placing the image in 3d allowed us to create simple, ‘slow-motion’ camera moves with a realistic parallax.

In addition to camera moves, individual elements were animated such as balls, chunks of turf being kicked up, confetti, even sweat flinging off a player’s forehead.

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After Effects – Animating with the Puppet Tool

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Using After Effects’ puppet tools, we were also able to animate the players, creating slow motion kicks, dives, or arm movements.

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After Effects – Adding flash guns, flares, camera blur, fake rain

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The animations were then finished with crowd flash guns, lens flares, camera blur and sometimes fake rain, before being combined with stock footage, some stills of the action and 3d graphics.

VISA needed the film for a sponsor event to be held in Rio de Janeiro the night before the final took place.

We delivered the completed edit the day after the last semi final match, after many long hours of work.

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