ESPN's football broadcasts will feature EA Sports "virtual players," character graphics that can interact with TV hosts and analysts to discuss and demonstrate football plays and techniques during 2008 NFL on-air coverage. EA and ESPN today announced the partnership, called EA Sports Virtual Playbook.
Developed jointly by EA Sports Technology Licensing Group and ESPN's Emerging Technology team, Virtual Playbook is created using feeds from in-studio cameras as well as an in-game camera that captures graphics from EA Sports games depicting real scenarios.
The real-world studio and game images of virtual characters are combined to create the illusion of virtual players appearing in the studio alongside the real-life sports broadcasters. With the setup, both real and virtual people can move around the studio set to demonstrate plays and scenarios.
Commentators on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, and NFL Live shows will use the Virtual Playbook technology during the 2008 NFL season. Other ESPN programs, such as SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, and First Take, may also use the technology in the future, the companies say.
"EA Sports Virtual Playbook is born out of our deep football heritage at EA Sports and our drive to expand the impact of our innovative sports technologies beyond gaming,” says EA Sports president and former Microsoft Executive Peter Moore."
He continues, "Telecast on ESPN, EA Sports Virtual Playbook marks the future of sports production by allowing television analysts to highlight, critique and dissect on-field action more intimately than ever before. EA Sports Virtual Playbook brings an entirely new level of excitement and realism to football analysis to ESPN viewers this NFL season."