LAS VEGAS — Just like the NBA rookies and hopefuls angling to find a roster spot on a team in the fall, the good folks over at NBA 2K are also hard at work in the heat of Las Vegas in July. 2K has sent some of their facial-capture specialists out to Las Vegas summer league to get the appropriate likenesses of each rookie and player they may not already have in their database. While this concept may not be new, it just goes to show the year-round work that is required for those associated in the entertainment aspect surrounding the NBA.
The best-selling basketball video game doesn’t take their position in the industry lightly, as evidenced by the hard-working team sent out to Vegas. I watched them work and coordinate with both league and team officials trying to ensure they could get everyone in at some point for a facial-capture session.
Remarkably, the process is relatively painless and not overly time-consuming, only lasting 4-5 minutes on average. According to the facial-capture representative they use multiple cameras to build a 3-D geometry of the player’s head and put their real textures, skin and hair into the game.
“Most players come in and say whoa that’s a lot of cameras…but it’s a static process. They just do a couple of facial expressions and from those expressions we can build movement from that” said the 2K representative.
While it’s important to get the rookies, it’s also important to see players who have been in the league for a while as long as they are willing stop by. Some players are sticklers about their likeness and want to be accurately captured — especially those who play the game on a regular basis.
“We like to see the guys (each year) because hair styles change along with other things. To capture them on the day in the reality of who they actually are is 100 percent accurate.”
While the aging process of players can be done by artists and other techniques, having the ability to see players in person gives 2K the best representation of each player in their game. The 2K rep I spoke to also stated that this process is ongoing; they travel to where the players are going to be in abundance, particularly at events like summer league and All-Star weekend.
I was present when the New York Knicks quartet of Shannon Brown, Tim Hardaway Jr, Shane Larkin and Cleanthony Early were getting ready for their shoot. Requests like “raise your eyebrows” and “bare your teeth” could be heard in their sessions, which I can only assume will be implemented to give players that incredulous look on foul calls or dunks.
Each player came out smiling, and it shows their willingness to participate in something different from the obligatory signings and appearances associated with their responsibilities in the league. Being witness to that mix of players illustrated 2K’s dedication to getting it right with both veteran players like Brown and rookies like Early.
NBA 2K15 is slated to be released in October with Kevin Durant as the new cover athlete. But it’s their attention to detail for all the players in the league that keeps them in the good graces of gamers worldwide.
It’s a continuing process and they don’t miss a step.
Craziest face for 2K to capture for the game?
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