Skip to main content

How EA brings your FIFA 14 players to photo-realistic life

If the face fits

The uncanny valley is the name of the slight wrongness that humans quickly pick up on when they see computer generated humans - from an avatar in a game right the way through to the immensely complicated and expensively created Clu character in Tron: Legacy.

Nunn fully believes that 3D modelling can eventually crack this problem, although he explains that he's not sure yet what the "something magic" that they need to capture is.

It's weird," he said. "It's funny how the first 80 per cent is easy but its the last 20 per cent that we haven't got quite right.

"We need to make little tweaks to get that last little bit. We've already taken huge leaps in basic quality and 80 per cent on the surface looks beautiful

" But we're talking about that tiny little something that the mind can tell means something is not right here - whether that's in the eyes or facial movement or whatever."

Lights, camera, waiting for action

Lights, camera, waiting for action

Getting back to the world of FIFA, and TechRadar asks Nunn about the reaction of the players to being photographed in such detail.

"There are a lot of players that are huge fans of the game," he answered. "It's always quite surprising how many of these [Premier League] footballers are complete FIFA addicts! There's a lot of trash talking between them about the game when we are taking the photos. Even those that don't play have a nephew or cousin that plays and they want to be a part of that - it certainly makes things a lot easier."

Irregular scans

TechRadar asked about players that were not so keen, but Nunn said that people completely refusing to go through the process were rare.

"Theres always someone who would prefer not to, but they are generally easy to convince. Normally when they see their teammates go through the process they are happier to go through with it.

The face scanning is not done on an annual basis, although Nunn explains that changing hairstyles are dealt with by creating bald models of the player and then adding the hair on afterwards.

Leon Osman - not much choice over his best side with 18 cameras

Leon Osman - not much choice over his best side with 18 cameras

"Once we've captured them once that's generally it - unless someone decides to get plastic surgery! We do take the opportunity to do people more than once if they are in the right place, we've just done Joey Barton for the second time because he moved clubs.

"It only takes three minutes to do the photos and then it's up to someone else if they want to use the updated pictures."

And what about the players that ask for subtle changes in post production, like a few extra inches of height or a slightly smaller nose...

"We get those requests all the time!" Nunn said. "A lot of players turn up and, when they see the amount of cameras, disappear off to do their hair and have a shower before they will let us process them."

Frankly, if you pointed 18 cameras at TechRadar, you'd have us scurrying for the nearest mirror, so you won't find us suggesting that footballers are vain.