Brian Murray, who in his previous life pulled about 16mm of NFL Films cams, put the rig on my right shoulder. “This is the same size, weight, and balance of the camera that I would have taken if I was on the sidelines again,” Murray says. Madden NFL 23Presentation Creative Director. However it is not like a camera.
The metal tubes round out the skeleton of one of them, and some of the front discs control things like focus and zoom, but it’s mostly an open space connected to a fairly chunky platform. The viewfinder is an iPad, so at least I’m not shifting. But on that display, head coach Sean McVeigh and four or five of the Los Angeles Rams walk off the field after the game is over, served in Madden. And as I pan the camera, I’m shooting in VR, getting close to Galen Ramsay or Sebastian Joseph Day and entering their faces, just as if I had a photographer’s jacket and field pass.
“You may have heard of a very small movie called symbol picture,Murray jokes. “James Cameron patented a technology by which he was able to take a small wired pillow and walk around his digital scenes in that movie, to get shots with a real feel, and frame the digital scenes in that movie.”
Murray Join EA Sports from NFL Filmsthe Emmy-winning documentary arm of the League, to start work in 2014 Madden NFL 25. Murray was brought on board specifically to fine-tune Madden’s in-game broadcasts to closely resemble the kind of rich cinematography that football fans have come to expect from the league’s biggest games and moments – and from the NFL cinema’s most. Soon after moving to Florida, Murray began implementing a virtual reality imaging system that Cameron patented. Since then, Madden’s broadcasts have been able to film what is essentially the same sequence from a variety of camera angles — in a number of different styles, each real style — to introduce some variety into the game’s presentation.
Big difference? “My last room that I had to do this in, was the size of this piece of rug,” Murray says, pointing to a rug with gridlines and the EA Sports logo, at best the size of a closet floor. Today, he works in a much larger and newer motion capture studio at EA’s downtown Orlando studio, where EA Tiburon moved in 2019, shortly before the pandemic hit. Murray said the pick-up room was, in fact, completed the day before our interview.
The extra space means “thousands” of new shots have already been taken Madden NFL 23 — 700 in the week leading up to a studio tour in late May, Murray says — adding to the more than 12,000 filmed over the seven years this technology has been in use. Murray is correct that Maddens of the Past has made various animations, after whistle or gun half time, to prevent filmmakers from becoming so predictable and rote. But given the new space he has to work in, I can’t help but think he can frame a shot from the side camera more appropriately now because he can literally move himself away from that margin, in virtual reality.
“For us, we always want to start working on the ground and then start pushing the buttons from there,” Murray says. Otherwise we would have 1,000 drones flying everywhere. And then we have a very unique responsibility, where our fans are a professional watching this game on Sunday, Thursday and Monday from the couch. So if we hadn’t acted from day one there, if we hadn’t emulated our game the way you see it as professionals, we would have let you down back then.”
D-Cam, or Director Cam, is just one element of the focus on visuals and presentation that isn’t necessarily an overhaul, but rather focuses on making sure everything in the game is presented with painstaking authenticity. Sports developers typically support this claim with a figure related to the number of 360-degree head scans of athletes added to the game each year, and Madden NFL 23 Already a lot of them.
But the “Mobile Scan Truck,” which EA Sports parked outside Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City last year, and during events like NFL meetings and scouting gatherings, speaks to the tenacity behind the efforts led by Terrance Newell, Madden’s art director, and Juan Chavez, its character manager. The truck wasn’t just there to do the shooting. Newell hired five Kansas City chiefs of varying heights and widths to better represent the body spectrum of NFL players. Until this year, Madden used a single basic model, or “silhouette,” which was then changed to represent larger or smaller prototypes.
“Admittedly, if you look closely enough, all these different players have some of the same traits, right?” Newell says. “Because they’re built on the same base. So we were like, Well, let’s make precise rules, which will make the whole list of players more accurate. “
The five Chiefs who scanned them wore their gear in the truck as well, which included 6-foot-8, 344-pound offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who Newell says represents the “state of the edge” player — the men in the league, but in small numbers. (The other four represent the quarterbacks, the receiver, and the linebacker; the “impact players” when running back, linebackers, and the defensive end; the “monsters” who play the offensive line and the defensive line inside; and the “tweeners”, who are an unbalanced combination of size or speed, usually in the middle or in special teams.)
Newell recalls that Brown had to squat and maintain a posture to get his upper body into the scanning area. “It was a concern,” Newell says. “I kept this position the whole time.”
The result isn’t just players’ body proportions reasonably well in Madden – their gear is more realistically attached to them. “The details and nuances, how tight the jerseys are, and how thin the pads are now, even [on offensive linemen]which seems dangerous even to be honest – all of these things are showing up one-on-one in the game right now,” says Mike Maher, Madden NFL 23Great product.
EA Tiburon has also used scanning technology on the gear itself, in some cases to capture the actual color of the shirt under direct light (especially important in the case of returned uniforms, whose colors may be thinner or a slightly different shade). For modern equipment, that means a lot of Nike stuff has been moved into the office under armed escort, literally, because the designs haven’t been shown to the public yet. But to complete the throwback look for John Madden, in the All-Madden game Starts a fresh install of Madden NFL 23And the Chavez went to a vintage clothing dealer and found the same type of two-prong belt and short-sleeved shirt that the coach was famous for, and scanned them into the game.
“I heard us talking about the coach [Madden] A little, and how he inspired our team; “He was very passionate about originality,” Newell says. “You know, if he’s in the game, he has to be in the game.”
[Disclosure: EA Sports invited Polygon and paid for its flight and accommodations at the one-day preview event at EA Tiburon’s studio.]