Dreaming of an All-Star Sports Collaboration

It’s not every day we get the chance to work with sporting legends. Imagine our excitement when Canadian sports company Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment(opens in new tab) partnered with PlayStation on the ‘Play Has No Limits’ campaign… and asked us to get involved! We all agreed it was simply a slam dunk.

More specifically, imagine Matt Bergasse’s excitement. As one of our Dreams Specialists – and resident Torontonian – nobody was better suited to the task, that being to create two unforgettable animated autobiographies. The two videos, illustrated by hand (or should that be controller?) in Dreams by Bergasse, follow the early careers of Dalano Banton - basketball player for the Toronto Raptors, and the first Canadian to be drafted for the team - and Wayne “Wayne Train” Simmonds, ice hockey player and star of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The videos chart their growth as athletes and as people, from their childhoods right up to their adult lives, and visualise the challenges Banton and Simmonds ultimately overcame to become the household names they are today.

Dalano Banton’s video interview. Can you imagine getting up at 6am every morning? Couldn’t be us.

The inspiration for the animations came from interviews with the athletes. After receiving a rough cut of these, Bergasse started experimenting in Dreams to find the best way to illustrate these personal stories. Matt’s first-hand knowledge of ‘Tronno’ was invaluable during concepting, as he was able to “visualise the kind of locations they were talking about”. This helped with the design of the school that Banton walks through, and the snowstorm that Simmonds braves on the way to practice. (Snow in video games, eh? Famously tricky. See what we did there?). Embracing the watercolour stylings of Dreams helped to highlight the defining moments of the athletes’ lives, thoughts, and journeys. For Bergasse, the “impressionistic aesthetic” of Dreams helped to capture the profound sense of self-reflection and memory with its “inherently fantastical element”.

Wayne Simmonds’ video interview. Wading through the snow is not our idea of a good time.

The videos offer insight into the sacrifice required by athletes in achieving their full potential in their respective sports. Whether it’s Banton constantly travelling back and forth between America and Canada, or Simmonds getting up at 6am every morning - our worst nightmare, honestly - the drive and energy of these athletes is vividly on display. Beyond the physical, the mental and social challenges for Wayne of being one of very few Black athletes in a traditionally white sport like hockey add an additional toll and pressure. We think it’s hugely important that these videos help to illustrate that strength.

We’re pretty thrilled with the outcome of the collab. If you also liked Matt’s work, you can give his Dreams profile a follow, or check out the video below for more insight into his work. And let’s not forget to shout out the other artists who also helped to make these videos happen - artists Dan Goddard and Francis Pang, and Bergasse’s fellow Dreams Specialists Martin Nebelong and Toby Gale.

An interview with Bergasse on creating the animated interviews. Wow, this all got a bit meta, didn’t it?

Have a look at the videos featured above, or over at the MLSE website(opens in new tab), if you prefer. If you like what’s been created here, why not try to illustrate your own interviews or audio in Dreams? Or even create your own sports simulation in-game? After all, as this campaign proves, Play Has No Limits - just like Dreams. And our capacity for cake. That also has no limits. All equally inspiring things, we’re sure you agree.

The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.