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Easton Sports - ‘Ultimate Batting Practice’

In 2011 Ross Harris and I created three incredible (actually uncredible) videos for Easton Sports. Within days it had spread across the sporting scene. From ESPN to Terrell Owens, from Good Morning America to Ray William Johnson, millions of folks in the online sports world were talking about or watching Easton’s ‘Ultimate Batting Practice’.

Original video:

Direction: Ross Harris - Technical Direction and Effects: Joel Fox

The video generated a lot of discussion, mostly regarding its authenticity.
People thought it was fake for various reasons-

The ball disappears at the end
The ball hits the same spot on the net every time
The shadows are in the wrong place
Its been re-edited into a loop
The ball doesn't slow down
Its a loop edit

The username is easton and so are the bats
The camera shake is fake
Sound is exactly the same every time
The ball thrower doesn't really look at anything
The acting is bad
Its impossible

These are all wrong. These are correct!

Anyway, the physics on the ball movement is actually quite accurate, as is the shadow. We threw the ball into each pitchback from its previous source and adjusted the trajectory and placement so that they were really in the correct position to move the ball around as shown in the video. I roughly calculated the time it would take the ball to go all around and created a metronome rhythm that indicated when the ball would be coming back for Marshall (the batter) to hit. He hit the two balls that were tossed to him, but was just swinging at phantoms after that. The pitchback impacts you see were from actual impacts created by throwing a ball into each net and recording them individually. Marshall can hit the ball hard enough to do this trick, if it was possible. But it's not really. The pitchback nets don't send the ball in the exact same trajectory every time, hitting a millimeter to the left or right would put the trajectory off by feet by the time it reaches the next pitchback.

Here is a proof of concept we created to start.

Here is a geometric breakdown of the video showing how it was actually put together for the technically inclined:



In another one of the videos, the guys volleyed a baseball back and fourth. As you can see, we shot with a large donut and later replaced it with a baseball. The magic of camera tracking points are revealed here as well.

Thanks for the great tracking, Wade!