Seahawks players saw first-hand how far one of their favorite video games has come when EA Sports paid a visit to team headquarters on Friday afternoon.
'Madden' Creative Director Michael Young and his crew were on hand to capture player headshot images for future installments of the franchise, but the process was quite a bit different from your typical glamour photo shoot. The group's intimidating photo-capturing contraption features 16 cameras fastened together and positioned at different levels in a semi-circle around their target. The device was built entirely from scratch, using products Young says, "anyone can buy."
"It takes 16 shots simultaneously of different angles of your face and that allows us to stitch it together in 3-D and make a 3-D model and texture for all the players in the League," Young said. "And why this rig is especially cool, is that it's portable. It all folds into that one box. It's all powered out of that box."
Young said he and the 'Madden' team used to show up at the Pro Bowl each year with a far more elaborate - and cumbersome - device. Friday's visit with the Seahawks marked the handy design's third run through an NFL roster, with EA Sports visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers for a test run last season and stopping by the home of the Cleveland Browns just last week.
"This is the first time we've actually been able to come to teams and get 50-70 players on the roster scanned," Young added.
The technology behind 'Madden' - a game that has been around since the late 80s and early 90s - has advanced from producing grainy 8-bit images to the frighteningly-realistic virtual models you've likely mistaken for live action football when walking into a room today.
"The ability to store bigger textures, denser mesh - 3-D faces, allows us to get the likenesses really close, uncannily close," said Young. "A process likes this allows us to get really great details that we can now actually store in the game. Before, even if we got these details, we wouldn't have the memory to store textures that big."
Friday's stop at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center signaled the start of a busy time for Young and his crew, who plan to visit five or more teams as Organized Team Activities (OTAs) kick off over the next couple of months.