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“When I received the photo assets from the Ertz shoot, showing that she had kicked the ball into the lens of the camera, I knew we had something special.”

Go inside the making of ESPN The Magazine's World Football "motion cover" session - and the smashing results courtesy of USWNT star Julie Ertz's right foot

EDITOR’S NOTE: The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine – featuring USWNT star Julie Ertz on the cover – is devoted to the robust Women’s World Cup field headed to France this summer and answers some of the most important questions going into the big tournament. The World Football issue, powered by espnW, is on newsstands Friday, May 17. Experience the World Football Issue’s animated motion cover in the digital space on Apple News+ – and in the video above – and learn more on the making of it in this post authored by ESPN Digital Media photo editor Robert Booth.

Motion magazine covers aren’t a new concept for the photo department at ESPN.

Our group began creating “cover reveals” back in April 2017 under the guidance of photo director Tim Rasmussen. The first cover reveal was our MLB Preview featuring Los Angeles Dodgers star Corey Seager.

This contraption helped produce the animation used in the Julie Ertz “motion cover.” (Robert Booth/ESPN)

Since then, we have created 27 animations which appeared on television and social platforms across ESPN. Our QB Crossroads issue, which depicted an aging New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, even took home a silver medal for animation at the 2018 Society of Publication Design Awards.

Fast-forward a year, and Apple News+ has given us a new audience and new challenges. We have 15 seconds to engage our fans with something innovative, access-driven, and exciting that they can’t get anywhere else.

Our most recent Apple News+ motion covers include the recent NEXT Issue – featuring San Francisco 49ers draft pick Nick Bosa – and our current World Football issue featuring USWNT star Julie Ertz, showing her kicking a soccer ball toward the camera.

Here’s the print magazine cover of the World Football issue. (Mary Ellen Matthews for ESPN The Magazine)

When I received the photo assets from the Ertz shoot, showing that she had, indeed, kicked the ball into the lens of the camera, I knew we had something special [see additional video at bottom of post].

The Ertz cover animation was created using three of photographer Mary Ellen Matthews’ shots. These images were morphed to create Ertz’s super-slow-motion kick.

To achieve a realistic look, we suspended the soccer ball using fishing line, a tripod and a step stool [see inline photo].

We filmed the ball spinning for just a few seconds. I masked that footage and animated it to mimic the same path the ball traveled in the photos.

Our talented visuals and edit departments have always been known for creating covers that are beautiful, surprising and conversation starters. My hope is that the Ertz cover is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible in this new digital format.

ESPN The Magazine provided the videos. Read the cover story profile of Ertz by espnW’s Allison Glock.

espnW presents “The 99ers: Reunited,” a special about the 1999 Women’s World Cup-winning U.S. national team, tonight, 7 ET, ESPN2. Then watch the 2019 USWNT’s “Send-Off Series” friendly versus New Zealand from St. Louis (8 p.m., ESPN2).

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