Adidas | Champions League Reactive Animations

Working with Copa90 & Grizzle I directed these animations as part of a season long project for Adidas.

Each week during the 017/018 Champions League competition we produced new reactive content. The release of each asset was neatly timed to key moments, happening in real time, during the matches.


The Mo Salah Animation

By far the most successful asset we created was the animation of Mo Salah (below). During the UCL semi-final 1st leg Salah brought Liverpool level, scoring twice before half time. Adidas dropped the asset onto Instagram during the half time break. By the time the players kicked off for the 2nd half the animation had been viewed more than 250k times. At time of writing the asset has had 2.5 million views on Instagram alone.

Brand Police

When the project kicked off we were in charge of creative which meant we were coming up with many of our own ideas. However, almost all of them got shot down immediately – mostly for being too wacky. It was pretty depressing. Navigating through the minefield of player & brand management was much harder than we had envisioned. Luckily the guys at Copa90 are experts in this area and were able to bring forward ideas that were safe to use whilst still being fun and shareable.

Probably best we stick to what we do best – hand drawn animation and motion graphics.

Where possible we tried to animate on top of footage. However, IP (logos and sponsors) from the kits of other teams and advertising boards gave us some big headaches. This meant that usable footage was scarce to come by.

Boot Ending Motion Graphics

As well as directing the animations I was also able to chip in on the motion graphics for the boot endings.

Each animation has its own unique a boot ending sequence. The boot ending used on the animations would depend on which boot that player uses. Adidas have 3 main boot types; X-boot, Nemezis & Predator. At stages through the season Adidas were changing colourways for their boots. When they did this artwork for the animations had to be created and swapped in. Here’s a compilation video of those:

How we did it

Photoshop was utilised for the frame by frame, hand drawn animation. We used After Effects for compositing and also for the motion graphics for the boot endings.

We utilised several techniques for creating reference material. Most of the time we were using reference material to describe to the client how a certain animation might look. Sometimes we needed reference material to create the movement we needed for a player’s action and body positions. These techniques ranged from creating a 3D version of the scene in C4D right down to filming ourselves in the office on our phones. If it works, it works!


Hand animation by Freddie Littlewood, Oliver Pendle, Roger Wade and Ciaran McCusker.