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World Cup History Transformed Into Animated Tapestry

If you love soccer and embroidery, then you’ll get a kick out of this news: The BBC’s marketing campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is a tale told entirely in thread. “The Tapestry,” directed by Nicos Livesey, takes the viewer on a journey through iconic moments in World Cup history, brought to life in vibrant, embroidered panels.

To create the short film, BBC Creative commissioned more than 600 individual frames of embroidered tapestry, which were then animated by Blinkink. According to the BBC, more than 227,000 meters – roughly 744,751 feet – of thread were used in the project. If each panel used in the animation were laid end to end, they would measure more than 1,200 meters – or 3,937 feet – long. That’s more than 10 times longer than a FIFA soccer field.

“Choosing which iconic moments to feature was a detailed process,” said Tim Jones, creative director at BBC Creative in Salford. “Where do you start and finish with the most iconic tournament in the world?”

A traditional Russian folk song, “Ochi Chernye,” accompanies the animated film, adding to the historical feel of the campaign. “The World Cup is steeped in stories, and our campaign brings to life some of its most memorable moments with a unique interpretation of a centuries-old Russian tradition, accompanied by a traditional and iconic piece of music, which we all fell in love with instantly,” said James Parry, head of marketing for BBC Sport and Events.

“The Tapestry” promotion debuted earlier this month in the U.K. during halftime of the FA Cup final on BBC One. The BBC will mimic the visual style of the tapestry across its platforms, using it in graphics, social media and more.  Once the World Cup ends, the BBC plans to publically display a 23-foot-long version of the tapestry that incorporates the most captivating moments from this year’s tournament.

This isn’t the first time embroidery has been animated. A few years ago Livesey directed a sci-fi-themed music video for his heavy metal band, Throne, using stop-motion animated rectangles of embroidered denim. The video for the single “Tharsis Sleeps” encompassed about 45 million stitches.

It’s also not a first for marketers putting their own spin on the famed Bayeux Tapestry: Last year, Tourism Ireland created a 250-foot-long tapestry retelling the plot of HBO hit Game of Thrones.