Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I was given an interesting task to complete today. Come to think of it, it’s probably one of the most bizarre tasks I’ve ever had to complete in my digital video career. Since one of our medical clients recently changed their company name, we had a little bit of a problem considering we already had the video shoot with their old company name in the script. It was only one word that needed to be changed so rather than going through the hassle of bringing in our actor to “re-do” this specific word, I replaced it with another instance found later in the script. It wasn’t necessarily the most natural fix (re-doing the script would be best) but it was a good, cost efficient solution. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was still way better than Samuel L. Jackson’s overdub in the “made for tv” version of Die Hard 3. (There’s nothing believable about “…you white melon farmer!”)
Anyways, it was still pretty obvious that the actor was saying the old company name despite the audio fix. That’s where Laurence came to me and said, “See what you can do about this.” My new task was to make the audio fix more believable by compositing the actor saying the new word over the original. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little excited to take on this challenge and see if this was possible.

First, I found the instance of the actor saying the overdubbed word later in the script. I essentially masked out the mouth for the duration of the word and began compositing it on top of the original footage. Since the actor was casually swaying back and forth, some image stabilization and motion tracking was involved to ensure that both video clips naturally moved in the same direction. With a little nudging, rotoscoping, layer parenting and patience, I was able to digitally superimpose the actor saying the new company name. Within the hour, I had a change that could fool most viewers on the first watch. The best part about it is that we saved our client time and money by not having the actor come in to re-do the script in our video studio. Any other production facility would have charged an arm or a leg to redo something like this… not to mention covering the costs of studio rental time!