TV history was made on Sunday night as 'The Simpsons' became the first animated show to attempt a live broadcast, with a three minute segment.
After well over a quarter of a century on the air, ‘The Simpsons’ attempted an animated TV first during last weekend’s episode when Homer appeared live via motion-capture technology in order to answer fan questions.
During the final three minutes of Sunday night’s episode (May 15th), titled ‘Simprovised’, Homer appeared in a separate segment in order to answer pre-screened fan questions about events that had happened that very day. Dan Castellaneta, the voice artist who provides Homer’s voice, did a set of questions each for the East Coast and West Coast broadcasts.
'The Simpsons' went (almost) completely live on Sunday as Homer answered fan questions
The show’s executive producer Al Jean explained how the high-wire attempt would work when interviewed by ABC News Radio over the weekend.
“Fox Sports actually developed this program that was an advance on previous motion capture I’d seen where there’s no actual hook-up, it’s just Dan talking into a mic and he’ll move and Homer will move with him,” he said. “I don’t think you’d want 30 minutes of it, but for three minutes it’s spectacular.”
The rest of the scene, which included Bart racing in to steal Homer’s trousers from under the desk he was sitting behind, may have been pre-animated, but the mouth movements, designed to sync up with Castellaneta’s in the studio, were all done live.
There were some teething problems, with viewers reporting that the spoken words and mouth movements only synced up about 50% of the time, but for such a novel idea and the intense labour it required, it’s bound to be attempted again. Lo and behold, Homer was grilled on topics like the presidential candidacy races in the Democratic and Republican Parties.
Asked what he thought about Donald Trump by one viewer, he answered that he preferred Bernie Sanders, which may be the first time that an animated character has endorsed a political candidate, but went on to praise his chicken and ordered viewers to respect him by calling him ‘Colonel’.