Adobe Character Animator, the new app from Adobe, has helped produce a three-minute segment of a live episode of the Simpsons!

Television shows have a fun history of producing a live episode from time to time, which gives long-time fans a chance to see their favorite characters “wing it” on prime time. The end result is often a fun, “it’s anybody’s ball game” atmosphere that produces a memorable episode. Of course, the recent popularity of Grease Live!–a full-length live production that aired earlier this year–and the excitement about the upcoming Hairspray Live! and even Rocky Horror Live! have brought new audiences to the entertainment value of live television.

Adobe helps create Homer Simpson

Homer, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, took call-in questions from fans of the show and answered them in real-time, all thanks to Adobe!

But it’s a little different when an animated show plans to get in on the fun, mostly because the show’s animation team really hates it when they’re asked to draw that fast.

Fortunately, the era of the hand-drawn frame-by-frame animated series isn’t exactly the same as a 21st century production. While it’s certainly not as easy as just clicking a button, the multi-frame strip of the original cartoons isn’t the same format. Now, thanks to Adobe, a live episode of an animated series is not only more feasible, it’s (sort of) already happened.

Thanks to a new app from Adobe that works with Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe Character Animator helped produce a three-minute segment during an episode of The Simpsons that aired this past weekend. Homer, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, took call-in questions from fans of the show and answered them in real-time, complete with Homer-esque animation. It works by syncing the animated character’s lip movements with those of the actor producing the voice so that the effect seems to be be the animation talking live.

HOW?

According to the Adobe Blog, “Believe it or not, the process is relatively simple, with the right tools. Castellaneta delivered the live performance and Adobe Character Animator (a relatively new feature in After Effects CC, part of Creative Cloud) made the magic through realistic lip sync and keyboard-triggered animations. The talented teams at Fox and The Simpsons had early access to the upcoming version of Character Animator, which debuted (and will ship soon … keep an eye out) when our Digital Video and Audio team barnstormed the NAB trade show.”

While the software itself will be released later this year, don’t go looking for a full-length live animated movie anytime soon.

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