Debunked: Viral Tape Measure VFX

Captain Disillusion is back again, and this time he's uncovering the various techniques used to create the famous “Tape Measure Tricks” video. How much of it is visual effects?

I remember seeing this video again and again, over the years. It’s now seven years old, and it's likely that most of our readers have seen it at some point on various sites. I mean, what's not to like? These guys are incredibly talented with a tape measure — it’s got all the hallmarks of a viral video.

As it turns out, the only tricks going on here are in the visual effects. Spotted by an eagle-eyed viewer, Jackson Roberts, it just wasn’t adding up. The “viral feel” is the deliberate efforts of a marketing company, and the talented construction guys are actors. While I never noticed that there was anything up with this video before, it seems totally obvious now.

To the credit of the production team, this isn't a new video and it still holds up pretty well. Sure, if you analyze it frame by frame, it falls apart — but there's something to be said for how well the video flows. Compositing tools were not necessarily what they are today, and it was likely a more expensive process for an advertising agency. However, it’s not as if After Effects CS5 wasn't capable of this.

Do you think it was a job well done? Or does Captain Disillusion have a point, and it’s a sloppy job?

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3 Comments

Studio 403's picture

Good story, thanks, I would enjoy, to learn how to make a terrible composite to just say I did it , lol

Anonymous's picture

While the quality may fall apart on detailed inspection, it was sufficient for its purpose, and fulfilled it well. The few people who saw through it are statistically insignificant and not worth spending the extra money for higher quality. And while it may subconsciously have done its job, now that they have inspected it, it has become a conscious advertisement, and they have doubled its impact.

Lee Morris's picture

This "captain's" videos are such high quality. I can't imagine how much effort he puts into these.