FARO Technologies, a Lake Mary company, are helping EA to create next-gen animation scanners for upcoming sports games. Pitched for EA’s forthcoming FIFA series – among other sports titles – the scanner is only the size of a toaster, yet records over one million pieces of information from its surroundings each second.
EA believe that the scanner will help them to create football games that are incredibly lifelike, right down to the tiniest animation. EA’s latest FIFA game, FIFA 13, already introduced revolutionary control and animation concepts, such as the ‘1st touch control’ system, which calculates the likelihood of each player controlling the ball on first touch and supplies an animation to suit. The next generation of games promises to be something even more special.
FARO’s scanners are used all over the world in a huge range of applications, from governmental population surveys to manufacturing processes. They even crop up in Forensic Investigations, where they can be used to analyse bullet trajectories, take virtual images of crime scenes for detailed analysis and spot features that the human eye could miss.
It’s therefore the perfect companion for any sports-oriented new games EA intends to bring to market. The $42,000 cost of the scanner replaces the older Leica model, which has just finished capturing animations for the latest Tiger Woods PGA Tour game. In addition to capturing model animations and linking them together in modelling programs, the scanners can be used to capture entire outdoor environments, including stadiums and parks.
Interestingly, the images captured by the FARO scanner come replete with 3D data – which means that it’s perfect for capturing environments destined to be rendered in stereoscopic 3D. EA have, in the past, not expressed much interest in 3D; John Riccitiello, EA CEO, has been quoted as saying “Frankly, we have not seen a big uptake for 3D gaming. We haven’t seen a big uptake for 3D televisions in the home, at least not yet. And we’re not here trying to drive the market, we’re here to react to what customers are looking for.”
So 3D is not where the FARO scanner is going to be taking EA. In that case, where is it? The answer is twofold: more accurate animations with more personalised detail attributed to individual sportspeople, and richer, more immersive sporting environments in which these virtual players can compete. FIFA 14 is looking attractive already.