ELVIS GETS ROTOSCOPED

This column probably should be titled “Discover Your Inner Elvis,” but it’s been fun using strange titles lately, so let’s go for one more.  On the serious side, EPE has chosen an excellent title for their new national promotion, and the advertising plan they have developed for it is most impressive.  “Discover Your Inner Elvis” is something you are going to see and hear a lot in 2007.

 

On Monday, April 16, EPE announced a comprehensive campaign covering TV, radio, print, and the Internet.  The complete press release is posted at www.elvis.com/news/full_story.asp?id=1222.   It describes how the “’Discover Your Inner Elvis” campaign is designed to get more people to visit Graceland.  Read closely and you will note that Graceland is referred to as a pop-culture travel destination the whole family can enjoy.

 

I love that tag.  A Pop-Culture Travel Destination.  Let’s see, what else is in that category?  Universal Studios Florida?  Disney World?  Dollywood?  Is Graceland morphing into a theme park?  I hope so.  The more attractions the better.  Stagger their openings over several years and give us fans the incentive to come back frequently.  With all the land EPE has bought around the mansion, you know new stuff is coming.  And you can count on this to include a couple of features for the kiddies.

 

EPE figures they already have a great destination, and the “Discover Your Inner Elvis” campaign is going to coax a lot of folks to visit Graceland. It features 30 and 60 second TV spots that will run on cable networks including Lifetime, Oxygen, Soap, HGTV, Food, Style, E!, and Discovery.  In addition, coverage will be placed on local channels in six or more major markets.

 

So, how do the TV spots encourage the viewers to discover their inner Elvis?  They take a stereotypical “soccer mom” wearing an Elvis jumpsuit and insert her into Elvis’ role on stage in the original Aloha From Hawaii concert footage.  After she struts around doing familiar Elvis moves and a karate kick, we realize this is a dream sequence as the scene dissolves back to her in front of the American Eagle jumpsuit display at Graceland.

 

If you would like to see these very nicely done spots, click on http://www.elvis.com/discover/ and have some fun.  After viewing them (and the original Aloha From Hawaii footage used in their production), you may wonder how they took Elvis out of the film and added the soccer mom.  It involves two interesting technologies called green screen and rotoscoping.  The actress was filmed in front of a large green screen.  It was a simple matter to delete the background from the film, leaving just her image ready to be inserted into the archival footage.

 

However, getting Elvis out of that old film was a tedious process.  Rotoscoping has been around since at least 1993 when it was used to remove Humphrey Bogart from an old movie, so he could be inserted into the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Last Action Hero.  If it is still done the way they described it in a magazine article back then, computer jockeys display a single frame of film on a large monitor.  The image is overlaid with a grid dividing it into nine segments.  Then, they work on one segment at a time, blown up to full screen, and divided into many tiny squares in a tight grid.

 

At this point, they can go one of two ways.  If every square beyond Elvis’ image is highlighted and deleted, you have just Elvis left.  If every square inside Elvis’ image is highlighted and deleted, Elvis definitely has left the building.

 

The tedious part is that there are nine segments per frame of film, and there are twenty-four frames per second of viewing time.  So, it took a while, but they did take Elvis out of the Aloha footage.  To fill in the gaps created, they connect and blend the images on either side of the gap.  It’s not perfect, but it does fine when the image of the soccer mom is inserted over it.

 

We can probably look forward to seeing more re-edited film of Elvis.  The rotoscope technique makes just about anything possible.  We’ve already had Dolly Parton riding in a convertible with Elvis in that Tennessee tourism spot.  They rotoscoped Shelly Fabares out of Clambake footage and inserted Dolly.  Check it out at http://www.elvis.com/graceland/special/video_elvis-dolly.asp.

 

And, there is the BBC Radio 2 commercial with Elvis introducing a fantasy all-star band playing behind him.  The bandmates include Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, and Marvin Gaye.  You can catch that one at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/elvis/.

 

Remember the videos of Natalie Cole or Hank Williams Jr. singing duets with their long-dead fathers?  Wouldn’t it be fun to see young Elvis from the Ed Sullivan footage doing a duet with Elvis wearing the American Eagle jumpsuit from Aloha?  With all the hours and hours of Elvis on film, the possibilities are endless.

 

So, maybe “Elvis Gets Rotoscoped” is not only a good title for this article, but also a prediction of the future.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

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