Behind The Scenes

FNF‘s Atlas takes on PacMan, Mosley

Ever wonder what it would be like to stand next to Manny Pacquiao and “Sugar” Shane Mosley?

On the eve of Saturday’s Pacquiao-Mosley welterweight title bout in Las Vegas, ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and SportsCenter will highlight the biggest fight of the year in a unique way.

Analyst Teddy Atlas breaks down these two fighters during a special “virtual” Fight Plan segment.

The virtual boxers originated from the EA game “Fight Night Champion,” which was released in early March.

ESPN Animator John Siciliano created the scene, enabling ESPN Senior Concept Developer Lawrence Jones to put the pieces together on the technical side.

I caught up with Jones and asked him how the fighters are inserted into the shot.

“The player card takes pre-created clips of the EA versions of athletes and places them into the 3D space of the studio to scale,” said Jones.

“The clips are played out by the control room and that source is placed into the studio by our virtual graphics system operated by both the video shader as well as the controller/developer both with their own distinctive roles.

“Because the real jib camera and its position in the studio are replicated digitally in real time, we are able to place the virtual athlete into that studio and successfully merge the two worlds together.”

One of the biggest challenges I noticed with “virtual” boxers was timing the movements of Pacquiao and Mosley with the movements of Atlas.

Since the fighters are not actually in the shot, it took a few rehearsals to get it right. In order for the shot to appear realistic, the boxer’s heights also needed to be adjusted.

It was certainly a great experience to see all the pieces come together.

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