Television Magic: The Secret of Football’s Little Yellow Line 

Football season is sadly coming to an end. Even if you’re not the biggest football fan, maybe you can appreciate its impact on culture, the television media space, and have wondered “how do they get that little yellow line to move across the field”?

But, first… The Super Bowl is here! This iconic Sunday ritual is where football fanatics, pop culture enthusiasts, and the advertising media obsessed meet. The 2017 Super Bowl LI takes place February 5 in Houston, Texas between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons; a ninth and second big game appearance respectively.

Many gather ’round the tube just for the commercials, you know who you are. With the average ad costing $5 million for just 30-seconds, we all watch these to be amazed and gain media insider intel so we can gather around the watercooler Monday and talk about our favorites.

And halftime, well, that’s a whole other story. This year brings us Lady Gaga, who no doubt will bring us a show to remember. Pepsi, the official halftime sponsor, pulls out all the stops for those firework-packed 12 minutes of showtime.

Which brings us to this. There’s a lesser recognize piece of the football viewing puzzle, though. One I have always wondered about and just recently learned how it works: the first-down yellow line.As long as I can remember watching a football game I remember seeing this yellow line move across the screen where it looks like it’s on the field in real life. How do they do it? As a video editor it always puzzled me how they were able to key that in in real-time to make it look so believable. Here’s how!

We can thank Sportvision Inc (@SportvisionInc on Twitter) for this technology back in 1998, when it debuted. It changed the game (literally) and changed the way we view sports on TV. You’ve gotta see this video from Vox where they breakdown the science.

~Arielle Q

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