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They’re giving it a shot.
A first-of-its-kind animated NHL telecast is following Tuesday’s game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.
The “NHL Big City Greens Classic” broadcast uses NHL Edge positioning data (puck and player tracking) to recreate the real on-ice action unfolding at Madison Square Garden.
Airing on ESPN+, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney+, the telecast also features characters from Disney’s comedy series “Big City Greens” skating alongside animated versions of the NHL players.
ESPN commentators Kevin Weekes and Drew Carter are calling the virtual game wearing motion-capture suits that allow full-body animations of themselves to appear in the Big City.
Facial recognition technology is being used to imitate the reactions of Chris Houghton, the animated series’ co-creator/executive producer, and actor Marieve Herington, who voices Tilly.
“I really want my curiosity to be deep, my excitement for it,” Weekes, a former NHL goalie, told NHL.com.
“Hopefully that ends up translating into the broadcast itself because we’re being transported, certainly for me, I’ll be transported into a different world. And more importantly, we want to be able to transport the viewer, the listener, into a different world.”
“Not only are the players the artists, but so too are the characters, and now we’re going to kind of merge and integrate those two in the storytelling via the animation and via that technology,” Weekes added.
The special broadcast is a collaboration between ESPN, Disney Channel, and the NHL. The real-time animation is produced in association with ESPN Edge Innovation Center and NHL EDGE Innovation partners Verizon, Beyond Sports, and Silver Spoon.
A traditional telecast between the Rangers and Capitals is available on ESPN and ESPN+.