Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons will include a ‘live’ segment at the end.
The conclusion of the show titled “Simprovised” will feature Homer answering audience questions in real-time.
This groundbreaking idea will be made possible by state of the art motion capture technology and Adobe Character Animator, which will involve voice actor Dan Castellaneta improvising in character.
The segment will last for three minutes, and will feature Homer sitting in a fixed animated background translating the actor’s answers.
Screening live episodes of comedies and dramas is nothing new – but for an animated series to try it seems remarkable. The episode will center on Homer trying out stand up comedy after a disastrous attempt at public speaking at the power planet.
Exec producer Al Jean credited to innovative idea to writer/producer John Frink.
He said: “It was John Frink’s idea to go live on the air [during both the East Coast and West Coast broadcasts]. There are three rules: You have to be over 18, the questions are for Homer only and they have to be about current events.”
Homer will reportedly hold up a copy of Sunday’s newspaper to prove that the segment is live. The deadline for submitting questions was last week.
Producer Jean said the idea of doing something live with the character was floated during the production of The Simpsons movie in 2007 – presumably to promote the film. However the technology was not sophisticated enough back then.
Tests runs have reportedly worked well, but anything can happen during a live broadcast – so lets see.
However, the writers have cleverly only asked for current event questions and have already suspended the submissions process. So it’s fair to say they will the actor will know some of the questions coming his way.
The Simpsons has been running for 27 seasons, and this will be its 595th episode. The iconic show used to part of the cultural zeitgeist and is quite rightly known as one of the best TV shows ever.
The live gimmick will surely be a huge ratings boost for a series which has seen its cultural importance and overall quality dip in recent years.
We’ll have more on the tech behind The Simpsons’ live segment soon.
Source: The Wall Street Journal