How MLB Network Got Big Leaguers on the Field of Dreams for New Promo (Video)

Digital magic — and extras resembling specific baseball players — made it appear as though major leaguers were playing on the famed Dyersville diamond for the Ray Liotta-narrated TV spot.
MLB Network

MLB Network made a splash with its Field of Dreams-inspired promo, which it premiered Friday to celebrate the baseball postseason. With narration from Ray Liotta, the promo shows some of Major League Baseball's biggest stars playing on the Iowa baseball diamond created for Field of Dreams.

On Monday, a revised version of the Field of Dream promo will air ahead of Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers. Airing at 1 p.m. ET, the revised version will feature one star from the Athletics and one from the Tigers.

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The promo was shot over two days last month on location in Iowa, with digital effects helping transport 15 major leaguers to the Field of Dreams. Local extras, chosen for their resemblance to major leaguers, were also used. For those involved, it was at times an emotional process.

"At one point we're setting there at two in the morning, and looking around and saying, 'We're at the Field of Dreams,' " Chris Pfeiffer, MLB Network coordinating producer, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It was surreal that we were there."

In postproduction, Miguel Oldenburg of Creative Group, used rotoscoping to put real footage of Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Oakland A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Tigers first basemen Prince Fielder, and 12 other players onto the field. It took about 240 hours to rotoscope the piece -- but it was worth it, says Pfeiffer.

"If you don't believe that Prince is sliding into third in Dyersville, Iowa, then it doesn't work," Pfeiffer says. "You need to get lost in the whole piece. It looks like [Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew] McCutchen is playing center field in the Field of Dreams. It looks like those guys are waking though the corn field."

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Liotta, who played shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film, recorded his narration in a studio in Santa Monica. Pfeiffer hopes to partner with Liotta again next year when MLB Network celebrates the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams. In the meantime, the Field of Dreams promo will also be reworked for the beginning of next year's baseball season.

Watch the video, as well as a behind-the-scenes look, below.