As Bears fans, we all carry the burden that is Chicago’s Quarterback history. We’ve suffered through countless seasons with bargain basement signal callers, over priced FA cast-offs, and the squandered potential of disappointing draft picks. We’ve watched on in silence as other teams find their guy, while we go without. We’ve lived with the fact that the Chicago Bears are the only NFL team without a 4,000 yard passer in it’s history. We’ve more than paid our dues.
I had planned on making a Justin Fields jersey swap these past few weeks, but never got around to it. Since then, everyone and their mother has done one, to the point where it kind of felt pointless for me to do another. So when I found some time (and motivation) yesterday, I wanted to do something… more. I thought about making a highlight reel (which I still may do), or a movie poster based OSS (which, again, I may still do), but neither really felt right. So, I said “screw it, let’s find out if I can do a video jersey swap!” Turns out, I can!
Though, for something that amounted to maybe 10 seconds of actual footage, it was a fantastic pain in the ass that took me basically all day to get right. But since I don’t like to suffer alone, I’m going to share the process so you can share my pain! Enjoy.
Step 1. Finding some footage.
I needed something that wasn’t too complicated. I didn’t want to mask out arms crossing the number, or try and track a body that turns to the side. I also wanted to find something that was somehow exciting or dramatic, and I wanted it to feature a player that could conceivably be Justin Fields. So, when I found this video of our dear departed (from the roster, not this mortal coil) Kyle Fuller walking through the Soldier Field tunnel? I downloaded it faster than you can say “This is fair use, right?”
Step 2. Swappin’ it.
I needed to find a frame from the video where everything was pretty well lit, and more or less straight on with the camera, to make things easy on myself. I picked this frame, and got to work:
First things first, I painted out Fuller’s name and number:
Then, it was time to swap in Field’s name and number, trying to get it fairly close in terms of lighting, color tone and image quality, without spending too much time on it as I knew I would need to adjust it later anyway:
Lastly, I cut it up into separate pieces that I can lay over the video:
Step 3. 3D Tracking.
After importing the original footage into After Effects, I got a good (enough) 3D track for the scene, and then dropped in the images I’d made onto the proper tracked planes, so they’d move more or less believably, while keyframing any size changes or movement I needed to to keep Fuller’s name and number covered at all times:
Step 4. Lighting Sucks.
So far, so good. It looks fairly decent as is, the motion feels pretty good, if a bit wonky in spots, but not bad. However, outside of the few frames around the frame I initially used for the number swap, the lighting doesn’t match at all. My first thought was: just set up a light! After Effects has lighting rigs, so why not use them, right? Well, lighting in AE sucks. Hard. Especially if your 3D track isn’t perfect, which mine wasn’t.
I abandoned that idea, and leaned into what I knew: photo editing. I treated my comps like Photoshop layers that I needed to blend into a background. I set up some gradient overlays (white for the light areas, black for the shadows), and keyframed in scale, location, opacity etc. changes to match the changing lighting in the video clip. It was tedious, but I eventually got it to match (more or less). I then masked out the edges that didn’t quite match up with the background, and Bob’s your uncle:
Step 5. Finishing touches.
After that, it was really just a matter of bringing in some more shading to make the letters look more 3D, adding in some motion blur, and a bit of film grain so that it didn’t look like a picture moving around in a video. Then to Premiere to add in and mix some public domain crowd noise, some quick fades and a tag line, and that was it.
All that work for a 29 second video clip, with 10 seconds of actual footage. It’s usually at these points when I question my priorities in life… then I watched it, and you know what? My priorities are just fine.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this little experiment, and I hope it gets you as hype watching it as it did me making it! Bear Down everyone, and here’s to The Future.
Will Robinson II is a freelance graphic artist/content creator, an avid Bears fan and apparently speaks in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @WhiskeyRanger29, and check him out on Youtube at WhiskeyRanger. If you want to see the rest of the One Stop Shop series, you can check it out HERE!