The first Funday Football is coming in Week 4 as both the Jaguars and Falcons get the Pixar Treatment.
ESPN’s X account just announced that every run, pass, and score will be animated in real time live on Disney+ and ESPN+ Sunday October 1 at 9:30am EST.
What is Funday Football?
According to the ESPN announcement video, the game itself will be transformed live and air on both of the streaming services. The regular, non-animated, live-action game will also air on ESPN+.
After insisting that the game is real and live, the announcement video showed a little of what gameplay will look like in Funday Football’s animation style.
The video also previewed the special Duke Caboom halftime show for Funday Football. Duke Caboom, a character from the “Toy Story” franchise, is known for incredible daredevil stunts.
Funday Football Announcement
Check out the ESPN X post below for a sneak peek at the animation style that will be used to bring the game to (animated) life:
Advances in Real-Time Motion Capture Technology
Though the technology for motion capture is not new, animators at Pixar push boundaries and reach for new possibilities with this particular application. Sensorless motion capture was notably used for 2003’s “Matrix Reloaded” and “Matrix Revolutions” films. This technique, which required multiple cameras to be able to track the relative flow of motion between the cameras in a three dimensional space, was then further animated in post-production to fill in gaps and add special effects.
Since then, the technology has advanced to use human form and facial recognition software to automatically recognize features of humans and human movement to create animations based on those movements. Similar to the traditional capture technologies where models would wear sensors on their faces and bodies (as in Avatar, above), this sensorless style of animation relies on computer algorithms to automatically recognize joints, motion, and facial features, and then translate this to the 3D render to be animated. A commonly used application of this uses Apple’s iPhone software to animate character emojis based on the user’s face.
As you can see in the video above by Youtube user iJustine, the technology was able to track her face in real time and apply her movements to an emoji version of herself.
Pixar’s application of this technology on a large scale, with presumably several cameras capturing footage from several angles and applying the motion to 3D puppets, should give viewers a glimpse at how far the technology has come. Pixar’s propensity to push boundaries and create new animation styles continues to lead the industry in the animation genre.
Nickelodeon’s Animated Football Recap, NFL Slime Time
This is not the first animation studio x NFL crossover. In an effort to capture a younger audience of fans, Nickelodeon launched a similar concept in 2021.
On NFL Slime Time, hosts Nate Burleson and Dylan Gilmer take viewers through highlight reels of recent games that have been overlayed with animation, creating a fast-paced, exciting adventure out of important moments from the games.
The animations vary, from simple accents of stars or dust plumes, to entire stampedes of horses.
Most notably, the end zones get “slimed” when touchdowns are scored, with large animations of green cartoon slime overlayed on the original video.
Unlike the real-time animation styles announced by the NFL today for Funday Football, Nickelodeon uses more traditional computer animation styles in post-production.
The Nickelodeon recap series has staying power, and the two-time Sports Emmy Award-nominated weekly show returns for its third season this month.
Will you be tuning in to Funday Football? Let us know in the comments.