ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose is all alone in the middle of a large dark room, swinging a golf club. Four dozen cameras record his movements while he wears a stretchy black bodysuit affixed with 64 sensors.
“My other career is robbing banks,” he jokes, just minutes after comparing himself to Catherine Zeta Jones in the film “Entrapment.”
Before each swing, a voice from the dark nether region of the room will order a specific shot: “Draw!” “Fade!” “Punch shot!”
Rose dutifully abides each time.
New age practice methods to enhance his swing? Not exactly.
Instead, Rose was involved with a motion capture session for the upcoming 2013 version of EA Sports’ Tiger Woods video game series – and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
“I asked to look at a couple of the swings I made and just as a stickman, it was amazing how I could recognize my golf swing, without even seeing my features,” Rose said after the session at the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy on Monday. “It’s amazing how they capture exactly the subtle differences between hitting the fade and the draw. I think that’s going to add so much to my character in the game.”
Bubba Watson also took part in his first “mo-cap” session. He maintains that his virtual likeness can – and has – helped him prepare for certain golf courses.
“I was excited that the game came about before the Masters,” Watson explained. “I played Augusta maybe 20-30 times, just looking at it before I got there. It’s basically like a yardage book, but this time you actually get to play the course and see the bunkers and see what the yardage looks like. You get a visualization of the holes and get to prepare before you get there.”
Both players agreed that being part of the annual video game series comes with not only a measure of personal satisfaction, but also helps their popularity with younger fans.
“It’s really cool to be in a video game,” Rose said. “It’s a great way for connecting with young fans. I’m amazed at how many times they’ll come up to me at a tournament and say, ‘Hey Justin, I played against you last night and I kicked your butt!’ You know, it’s kind of fun to have that little rapport with them.”
“It’s the coolest thing ever,” Watson added. “For me to see myself, when I’m talking to my buddies online with headsets, I can say, ‘I can play my character and no one else is allowed to play it,’ so it’s pretty fun.”