OpenFan: Connecting Software with The Real World

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Connecting Software with The Real World

At Sheffer Media we work with a lot of software companies.  One of the biggest struggles our clients have is showing that their product helps real people and therefore touches the real world even though it's a bunch of 1s and 0s. OpenFan is a product that connects companies with previously unavailable information about their customers. Even though it’s through large scale anonymous analytics - it was important for OpenFan that the audience of the video understand that it’s real people that the information represents. We decided that the best solution to this problem was to take animation and graphics from the software itself and place it into the real world. 

You can see the final product below:


Developing The Look


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Throughout the video we keep revisiting a marketer at her desk. Behind her, we often see visuals scraped directly from the OpenFan product. This technique allows us to show the product itself, while also representing the type of person and the emotional experience of the person who should buy the product. It is the proverbially killing of two birds with one stone. The caveat here is that it might be more impactful to just show the customer, or just show the product itself.

The caveat here is that it might be more impactful to just show the customer, or just show the product itself.

By showing both on screen you run the risk of making each less valuable. If you choose to follow this technique, that should be your consideration. Should I show the customer at this moment? The product? What is the goal of my current shot? With OpenFan, we not only have this wide with the product in the background, we also have full-screen views of the product, as well as close ups on the customer herself. 


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Just customer

This shot has nothing to do with the product. It is entirely about the positive emotional experience of the customer when using the product. Because of this, we're zoomed in on her and the product is nowhere to be found.

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Just Product

With this shot we want to focus on specific features of the product. It has nothing to do with the emotional story of this customer. Because of this - we went fullscreen with product footage.


Blending Software and The Real World

The best way to make sure that you can get the software footage to accurately attach to the environment is to shoot either locked off on a tripod or with very steady movement. The positive to the tripod is that it’s MUCH easier to pull off. The positive to steady movement is that the connection between the software and the real world FEELS more authentic because they move in unison. Because of this authenticity, and the fact that we’re masochists we decided to shoot all of the footage moving.


Here's the source footage of the marketer with a blank wall.

The image is slightly zoomed in and re-colored, but the core change is the attachment of footage from the OpenFan dashboard to the back wall.

Nuts and Bolts

At the core of pulling this off is a solid 3d camera match move. Software like Adobe After Effects has this type of functionality built in. You can point the system at a desired clip and it will do its best to analyze in 3d the movement of your camera.

This is a bird's eye view of the camera movement in the clip above. This is what the software needs to understand.


First off - be grateful that you’re doing this work in 2017. Not too long ago - no software had this built in and there had to be meticulous measurements taken on set in order to mathematically pull off the matchmove. Besides knowing the movement of the camera, After Effects also needs to understand the distance between the camera and the wall at every single frame. Once this information is known, you’re able to attach any digital element to a real world environment and make it look like it belongs.

Not too long ago - no software had this built in

Another example of graphics and footage attached to the background to help you better understand the marketer in this story.


What Does It All Mean?

Visual effects like a 3d matchmove are often used as a gimmick. This can be GREAT because it will help the video stand out. But - you have to choose the right stylistic effects. Simply doing advanced graphics doesn’t improve the story. In this case the our graphics are attempting to sell the connection between software and the real world. While that technique worked here - it almost certainly won’t work on the next one. As we tackle storytelling for each of our clients, we hope to bring a graphical flare but to focus on visuals that will lift up the company’s value proposition instead of simply showing off our capabilities.

If you need any help on your next video project - contact us:


Ryan ShefferComment