What would it cost today to pour a cup and a half of coffee?

Remember that coffee commercial from long ago?

You see an empty cup, then coffee is poured into it, gets to
the brim and doesn’t stop. But it doesn’t overflow!

It simply goes higher as if contained with an invisible extension
of the cup, until there’s half again more coffee!!!

I think the meaning was, this stuff’s so rich, that compared to
other brands you’re getting 50% more coffee.

But who cares?

My question concerns production costs.

This was back the television Stone Age, and in those days the
cost to create the effect was very high - say in the $100,000
range, maybe less.

My question is, using computer graphics currently available, how much
would this effect cost today - 37 cents?

Just wondering.

No I don’t.

But from your description, they might have simply used some sort of cheap clear plastic tube. How old were you then? Could it be that the production quality was pretty low, and you just didn’t notice?

I think you’re right Keeve. The plastic tube probably cost 37ȼ. Of course these days the CG version would cost $10,000 at least.

The effect was probably relatively cheap then and relatively cheap now.

BTW, not that anyone cares but wasn’t that ad sounds similar to one for Sambo’s chain of restaurants that aired back in the 70’s for its “bottomless cup of coffee.” Sambo’s used to have all the coffee you could drink for a dime and to advertise this, they had a waitress pouring the entire contents of first one, then two coffee pots into a customer’s 8 ounce cup with nothing spilling over.

*You get a cup and a half of flavor.

A cup and a half of flavor.

In every cup of Instant Maxwell House.

Thats because instant Maxwell House captures the good rich flavor of coffee beans fresh hot from the roasting oven, bursting with aroma and flavor.

You get a cup and a half of flavor, in every cup of Instant Maxwell House.


I believe the advertisement you are referring to can be found here

That’s a pretty impressive effect for 1963. I think it was done with a top/bottom matte - the bottom half is just the cup from the front rim downwards, the top half is footage of coffee being poured into a cylinder that has a transparent inner sleeve which rises as the coffee is poured in.

Either that, or they airbrushed every frame.

The ad works. I want a cup of coffee now!

You son of a gun!! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Thanks for tracing it down, xiix. An Gadaí is right. It works!

As I said in the OP, a lot of money went into the production of this thing. At least that’s what they claimed, and if it’s true, I think it’s unlikely that the effect was pulled off by a plastic tube costing a mere 9.00295 Rubles

I can’t really see how else they could have done it except some kind of transparent tube (not necessarily one that is there all along, just not visible - as I say, I think it could have been done with a matte in those days.

Certainly doesn’t look like hand-drawn animation, and they didn’t have CGI.

My first reaction was that they had used a slightly buoyant black plastic cylinder with a small hole in the bottom. If the coffee was poured in at roughly the same rate as it exited the hole (trial and error), it would have floated on top of the coffee pooling under it. Of course, this would work in a mug, but not the kind of cup shown, and we seem to be able to see well into the cup before the coffee is poured.

I was about to dismiss this theory when I noticed the large vortex that actually continued to grow after the coffee was no longer being poured – as if there were a hole in the bottom of the cup. It’s visible through the coffee, too, once it rises above the rim.

So here’s the sketch of a possible method:

  1. two white cups, say a coffee cup (which we will now ignore) and a cylindrical mug, filmed separately in almost the same spot, so the lips of the two coincide against the background.

  2. The cylindrical mug contains a black plastic buoyant cylindrical cup in it. (Think: an inverted cap from an aerosol can.) There is a hole in the center of the bottom of the black “cup”, blocked by a spring-loaded flap valve, adjusted to open under a pressure equal to the pressure of coffee filling the cup almost to the rim.

  3. The black cup has a high, but adjustable, buoyancy due to a styrofoam disk (with a hole for the valve) affixed under it. The total mug.valve/cup assembly can have any height: we will only see the very lip of the white mug, and the black cup as it rises out of the while mug

  4. Coffee is poured into the assembly at a rate that matches the outflow through the hole. The black cup, perpetually almost full of coffee, rises out of the white mug, floating on the coffee that flowed out through the flap valve. Outflow stops when no more coffee is added, but the “bathtub whirlpool” remains, and actually consolidates and grows a little without the interfering flow of poured coffee.

  5. A static (still) matte is created of the white “coffee cup”, up to the rim, and composited against each frame of the film of the (lip of the) white mug/black cup/poured coffee.

If the mechanical effect seems finicky, please recall that this was an analog/mechanical era. Every man wiore a mechanical watch, and most woke to mechanical alarm clocks. All car ignition and control systems were mechanical, and adjusted by he man of the house every few months. Now that I think about it, the cup system I just described would have seemed familiar to the average carburetor-float-adjusting, toilet-fixing 1960s man

The still vs motion composite I suggest would have been far cheaper and less complicated than a masked motion vs. “phaser beam” composite ing 1966 Star Trek or even the motion vs. Motion compositing of the “identical cousins” on the 1963 sitcom The Patty Duke Show.

In the mechanical/analog film age, masking and compositing wasn’t just for Sci-fi effects. Cathy and Patty Lane (both played by Patty Duke) appeared together several times in every episode, on a sitcom budget. It was pretty much the whole gimmick of the show. Also Cathy’s and Patty’s fathers were identical twin brothers, both played by William Schallert – so the producers clearly weren’t worried that it’d break the budget.

Heck, it’s much easier, faster and cheaper than 1920s-80s rotoscoped or hand-drawn animation or claymation, all widely used in 1960s commercials.

The steam rising from the cup is almost certainly added post production (probably a double exposure). There is a slight gap between the bottom of the steam and the surface of the coffee.

Obviously the “coffee” is actually mercury, noted for its high surface tension.

I had a Sambo’s coffee mug once. Ate there semi-regularly, but the time I remember best was the time my mom took me before one of the times I took the SAT, probably the last time.

All this discussion of the technique, and nobody’s mentioned the best bit of the ad: the business suit-clad paterfamilias, sipping his coffee, flanked by two simpering women - one, his wife, no doubt, who gets him his coffee in the morning; the other, his secretary (“nobody must ever know about this, Mabel”), who serves it for him during the day.

He’s savoring the coffee, and indicating the extent of its extra flavor with a somewhat camp hand gesture - but they’re not allowed any.

Why not? Because they’re women, of course!!!