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Off-the-ball movements like shouting, pointingand posturing - were priceless for EA in creating the action and intensity of a real-life game. "If a stuntman slide tackles someone in a motion capture area and then pops back up, it doesn't match the aggression of an actual challe

Off-the-ball movements like shouting, pointingand posturing - were priceless for EA in creating the action and intensity of a real-life game. "If a stuntman slide tackles someone in a motion capture area and then pops back up, it doesn't match the aggression of an actual challenge," explains Eaves. "In this sport, the physicality is real. When the player stands up and is angry. We take all that anger and incorporate it into the game."

It was not until they captured 22 players in a span of 90 minutes that EA could produce enough animation, 8.75 million frames, to fuel its 'HyperMotion' technology. Machine learning kicks in. "Previously, when a player gets close to the ball and is ready to take the next step - for example, shooting, passing or dribble - we've picked one of our animations from the database" Eaves explains. "But it doesn't know the context. This data helps train the network and helps blend animations."

But how could the strive to be realistic impact a game which, at the end of the day, compresses all of the excitement of professional football into just ten minutes or so of action? "It's a positive," says FIFA YouTuber and streamer Chris Wood, aka Chesnoid Gaming. "The whole idea of sport video games is that they replicate the way you experience live every single weekend. Thus, it brings the game to life in a way. Instead of five minutes of a video game it's more like five-minute portions of a real football game."

The goal is that the dashes, feints and micro-movements captured in southern Spain will help inform how some of the best players of the world perform during FIFA 22. Consider, for instance, Mo Salah: the nuances as he holds the ball, the delicate movements when he speeds up, swerves through the defenders who are trying to lunge, bears down on goal and slots it into his goal.

Their movements were immortalized on the night. They'll soon be experienced by over 30 million gamers around the world. This is the reason it mattered so in the eyes of both parties.


Charles Muthura

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