Behind the Scenes : Trocaire College

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As you read here, Quinlan was recently awarded a Bronze Telly Award for the high definition (HD) commercial we produced for Trocaire College. As promised, we’re giving you an exclusive  inside look on what went into making this award winning commercial.

The idea behind the spot, titled “Trocaire is Healthcare”, was to give a feel of a custom mobile app showcasing Trocaire’s capabilities and educational programs. Apple’s iPad and Windows’ Metro user interface (UI) were used for inspiration while concepting the spot.

Once our team decided on a concept and storyboarded the spot, the collection of materials and production phase began.  Trocaire and Quinlan both agreed that the use of actual students in the advertising is essential.  The next step was to schedule a photo and video shoot of the brave volunteer students.  Every person seen in the spot was a student at Trocaire College.  All the still photos were silhouetted and composited into different scenes by our creative team. The video set up included a mobile greenscreen and lighting staged in an empty classroom, and the footage was shot with our Canon 60D HDSLR camera.  The final step in asset collection was shooting the star of the commercial, the swiping hand. With our greenscreen properly lit and camera perched over top, our actress performed several versions of swipes, pinches, drags and taps.

The majority of the post production for “Trocaire is Healthcare” was done within Adobe After Effects.  After Effects is the perfect tool for any motion graphics, whether it’s a simple logo animation or high end special effects. All the keying, or removing and replacing the greenscreen, was done using Keylight within After Effects.  When your greenscreen is lit properly, using Keylight becomes nearly a one click job.  When you have lighting hotspots or shadows throughout the screen, you will need to do a lot more work in post production.  I am an avid user of the term “I’ll fix it in post”, but when it comes to greenscreens, proper lighting is essential.  The trick is to make sure the screen is lit evenly.

The most difficult aspect of working with greenscreen footage is very quick movement.  The natural motion blurs these movements create will still show some green.  In order to remove these, you need to work with the Screen Matte and Screen Balance within Keylight.  This will shift these blurry greens to a more suitable color.  The tactic to avoid would be to crank the Screen Gain.  This will remove too much color and the rest of your key will not work correctly.

Once all the keying was completed, we needed to time each finger movement to the movement of the Trocaire program tiles.  Each tile needed to be fullscreen for a certain number of frames throughout the spot.  The drag and drop scene was especially challenging.  In order to sync up the movements, we used Time Remapping within After Effects.  Time Remapping allows you to shift the timing of a certain scene.  This gives you the ability to slow down or speed up one scene at different spots, and helps a great deal when you are trying to match action in two unrelated scenes.

To complete the final spot, we added some polish.  For the finger taps at the beginning and end, we used VideoCopilot’s Optical Flares to give the feel that the Trocaire logo was “powering up”. After the compositing of all the elements was complete, they were exported and brought into our non-linear editor, Adobe Premiere Pro.  In Premiere, we paired the final composition with our new audio track provided by Propellerhead Media, made some final tweaks to timing and colors, and exported the file into formats ready for high definition broadcast across Western New York. Take a look at the final video here.

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