Blindfolded Hoops
April 18, 2004 4:47 PM   Subscribe

How do they do that? [more inside]

Every year there is at least one or two commericals [a recent cell provider, the famous Larry Bird/Michael Jordan spots, to name a couple] that have the same theme:

Guy or girl is talking about a product, is blindfolded or just facing away from the basket, and then tosses up a basketball which makes a perfect swish.

I have always wondered how they do that. Is it that the actors are that good and they do a bunch of takes? Is it smooth editing? My theory is that there's some guy on a ladder off frame who just tosses the rock in at the right time. Any insiders out there who know the real answer?
posted by lazaruslong to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
Well, if the ball goes off screen, then it's likely that it was the guy on the ladder; but it's not like it's impossible to do, so they may just do multiple takes.

(I'm not an insider.)
posted by bitpart at 5:19 PM on April 18, 2004

If there's lots of space in the frame between the characters and the net, and if the ball leaves the frame at any time, there's nothing stopping them from blending the footage of the actors with footage of the ball going through the net.

That is, you have shot A, with the actor tossing up the basketball high enough to leave the frame. In shot A, the ball probably comes down and bounces off frame somewhere -- anywhere, doesn't matter.

In shot B, you have a court without actors, but with the camera in the same position. The ball is filmed rolling off a set ramp and falling through the basket.

Once you have both shots, you just blend the two along a vertical seam -- you could do it in FinalCut Pro, or any decent video editing software -- then just time them so you see the ball go up, then come down through the hoop.

That's my guess.
posted by argybarg at 5:32 PM on April 18, 2004

That said, the shot where Sigourney Weaver does that in Alien Resurrection is real, because she insisted it be. She really chucked that shot in, through an awful lot of practice and an awful lot of takes, and she's still a little pissed that the ball goes out of frame.

There's a good segment on this in the extras from the most recent 8- or 9-disc box set of Alien movies, including the original footage where you can see Ron Perlman watch the ball go in, gape for half a second, and break into spontaneous -- but hugely out of character -- applause and cheering.

For a commercial, I would assume it's usually faked.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:59 PM on April 18, 2004

If the person chucking the basketball into the hoop is famous for that talent, I am pretty sure they try to get it in the hole for at least 10 tries.
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:05 PM on April 18, 2004

The cheapest way is probably via CGI
posted by magullo at 4:24 AM on April 19, 2004

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