EDIT: TLDR - From what I can estimate the tip of the ball crossed the plane of the first down (as I define it) by about two inches. The margin of error indicates there is a possibility it might not have, but that's unlikely :(
THE SPOT has been debated to death. Both OSU and us have provided camera angles that "prove the result", without really doing so because of the following resons: When a still camera image is analyzed, it begs the question "was that taken at the instant of forward progress by Barrett?". When a moving image is analyzed, the issue of parallax error is not resolved fully enough, even for #ThePerfectAngle. It is pretty important to do so simply because it is such a close call.
The most important variable to resolve is Time. Now both wolverines and buckeyes have all seen this GIF and drawn various conclusions and posted screenshots that vindicate their arguements and show their gross negligence of parallax error.
Let's a closer look at this. I've taken the liberty of running through the GIF frame by frame and have isolated the instant where Barrett has made the most forward progress. This would be Frame 53 shown below:
Okay, so now we've got Time out of the way. This image has been posted by many buckeye fans because they can just draw a line along the 15-yard line and say that the tip of the ball is clearly past that line demonstrating that education system in ohio has yet to incorporate the concept of a parallax error in the school syllabus.
The most important step in this is to determine exactly where along the width of the field the ball is at this instant. If we can do that, we can resolve the parallax. Fortunately we have a few clues. Here is Barron's picture from Ace's game recap:
It's a really useful shot because of when it was taken. The positioning of Jourdan Lewis' feet correspond to Frame 51/52 of the GIF above, which places this at almost the instant of most forward progress. The first thing this shot tells us is that the front tip of the ball is lined up vertically over Barrett's left pinky finger from this angle. [EDIT: I mean to say that the ball, Barrett's hand, and Barron's camera are all on the same vertical plane. The blue lines below are parallel to the intersection between this vertical plane and the field.]
The relative positioning of the hash marks in the bottom right corner actually give us a pretty good estimate of this angle shown by the light blue line. It also tels us that the ball is slightly past Wormley's right arm.
If we assume that Barron was sufficiently far away, we can slide that blue line down to the outside of Barrett's left hand we know where along the 15 yard line the ball would have had to be in order to cross the first down.
Here is where things start to get a little tricky. Where exactly is the plane for the first down located relative to the 15-yard line? If we assume that it is at the border of the 15-yard line facing midfield and assume that the TV camera that recorded the GIF is not rolled to either left or right, we can resolve the prallex error. First we draw the position of the presumed boundary for the first down (shown in pink):
The intersection of the pink and blue lines indicate the position of the ball projected down onto the field, if it had crossed the plane for a first down. Again, if there were no roll variations in the camera that recorded the GIF, we can simply draw a vertical line (in light green) from this intersection to mark the boundary of the first down with the parallax error resolved:
I've drew the green line with a gap around the area where the ball should be. I've run through the GIF frame by frame several times, and there is a light spot only a couple of pixles big to the left of Wormley's forearm and I believe that is the white stripe of the football. You'll notice on Barron's picture that the stripe is facing up so it makes sense that it should be barely visible from this angle. You can also see that it is literally a pixel past our hypothesized first down line. Given the dimensions of a typical football, that would make the tip 2-3 pixels past the green line.
It really depends on where exactly you define the plane of the first down to be. Is it the edge of the 15-yard line as I drew it? Is it on the opposite edge? Is it right down the middle? FWIW, the width of the line is 9-10 pixels on the GIF.
P.S. With regards to the tweet below,
— Eric Lloyd (@EricLloyd) November 27, 2016
The frame in this video that corresponds to Frame 53 in the GIF above (I used the positioning of Gedeon's legs to figure this out) has OSU's #73 obstructing the view so it's not very conclusive, also the ball was under Wormley's arm and part of it was past his arm as clearly seen in Barron's photo.