Dunedin to digital: PlayStation team visits MLB spring training to recreate players
Toronto Blue Jays teammates Melky Cabrera, right, Jose Bautista, centre, and Moises Sierra, left, stretch at baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Feb. 15, 2013. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 7:37AM EST
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Outfielder Moises Sierra sits motionless, his Blue Jays uniform top covered by a bib.
He's in the lunch room but food isn't on his immediate menu. The 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic is being captured on film from all angles so a 3-D likeness of his head can be inserted into the PlayStation video game franchise "MLB: The Show."
John Meehan, senior manager of animation for Sony Computer Entertainment in San Diego, and two photographers have descended on the Jays' spring training to shoot a number of new players.
They have brought what looks like a barber's chair with them, an accessory that allows them to rotate Sierra so he can be captured from all sides by a bank of six cameras attached to a mini-scaffold.
It's a quick process — maybe three to five minutes to get all 11 images needed. Meehan just has eight players to get — the rest were done last year or before — but he is at the mercy of the team's and players' schedule.
Meehan is part of one of two teams working the Florida spring training circuit. Two more are doing the same in Arizona.
Usually they are after new players or those who need an update. Hair is a problem, both facial and on the head, especially if a player changes his look radically.
All-star shortstop Jose Reyes, for example, had dreadlocks until the Miami Marlins made him cut them off. He's now a Blue Jay, with a shaved head and a stylish beard hanging under his chin.
The player's No. 1 task during the shoot is staying still. Any rogue hair is gelled into place.
"It's really about getting a good photograph at the end of the day," Meehan says.
A scanning team then takes the data and turns them into 3-D likenesses.
"There's usually 200 to 300 heads they do a year," Meehan explains.
Game designers use a motion capture studio in San Diego to capture the cinematics for the game, from batting to pitching.
While some players come in to the studio themselves, others are mimicked.
"MLB 13: The Show" is set for release on March 5. Jays slugger Jose Bautista will be on the cover of the Canadian version of the game.