Coffee and TV: Tracking the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with mocha Pro


John Trussler TV-Bay Magazine
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by Jon Trussler
Issue 97 - January 2015

When VFX artists are faced with tight deadlines, they rely on software to address particular pain points, helping them deliver the finished product in time. Such was the case when Soho-based VFX studio Coffee and TV was commissioned to hand off 70 VFX shots in just two weeks for three Samsung Galaxy Note 4 commercial spots. Having recently outfitted the facility with mocha Pro from Imagineer Systems, the artists at Coffee and TV had no idea just how useful the software would prove itself to be.

Coffee and TV owner and co-founder John Trussler (who goes by the nickname of Truss) and his team turned to mocha to track the tricky shots, saving time and allowing them to deliver the work on deadline. "It saved us 1-2 hours a shot...at least a week, possibly even two man weeks. We certainly wouldn't have hit our deadline without mocha," he says.

For this job, Truss' team used mocha's planar tracking to track surfaces and do some rotoscoping work to replace wires and hands on tables. Since they worked only on post for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 job, and not the production of the commercial itself, they couldn't put tracking markers on the phone - a common issue post production facilities face when they can't set supervise. Thankfully for the artists at Coffee and TV, mocha's planar tracker doesn't need these markers, and could easily track the surface of the phone, keeping the screen replacements in perfect perspective with the phone's movement.

Since much of the commercial was shot outdoors in bright light, the phone - the primary subject of the commercials - was shrouded with reflections, posing a challenge for the VFX artists. "Even if there were tracking markers, traditionally, most of these just won't work with such reflections. That is where mocha's great strength lies...it really helped users tweak on top of the track to get the detail and perfect the shot," says Truss. "We could have done it in Smoke, but it would have taken much longer. mocha is a quicker, friendlier, specialist kit for these types of shots."

From there, they simply placed the content Samsung wanted featured on the phone's screen, then added the reflections back in to keep the shot as realistic as possible. Even the light coming off of the phone was kept in tact - all of the cleanup and effects are invisible to the viewing audience.

With seven staff members working either at the Coffee and TV headquarters in Soho or the studio in Bristol plus several freelancers working remotely, having tools that facilitate collaboration is paramount for the post facility. "With mocha, we could ship shots out to three people remotely - they tracked in mocha then sent a tiny file with the tracking data, which we then imported to Smoke," says Truss.

He continues, "I can't tell you how lovely that is, if you've been wasting time struggling to track something difficult. When you get a track that works and place it straight into your timeline, it's just brilliant. And it makes our client-facing work that much easier."

While this was the first project where Coffee & TV used mocha, Truss is confident they will make it a regular in their workflow. He notes it was already established in many of their freelancers' workflows. "Just about every freelancer I've ever worked with has recommended it," comments Truss.

The final results are visual effects as fast, seamless and sleek as the main subject - the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. To see the final product, check out the commercials at http://www.coffeeand.tv/samsung-galaxy-note-4/


Tags: iss097 | vfx | coffee and tv | samsung galaxy note 4 | mocha pro | advert | studio | commercial | John Trussler
Contributing Author John Trussler

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