MLB 09 The Show – Lighting Explained

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Hello all, my name is Patrick Hager, I’m the lead graphics programmer and I’m here to fill in some more info on lighting in MLB 09 The Show.

Lighting was a major focus for us this year, and we implemented a Global Lighting model. What does that mean? It means that objects are lit by their surroundings. It means that when players are in shadow, they can still get light from the sunlight hitting the dirt just beyond the shadow’s edge, or a bright wall behind them. It means that in stadiums, red floors cast red light on neighboring objects. It is another step towards that realism we all want in our baseball game.

How do we do all this? Well, I can’t give away our secrets, but I can give you an overview of our lighting model. There are several steps we take to make each image, and we make 60 of these images every second.

MLB 09 The Show - SF Comp

Starting with the stadium:

  • We begin by tracing direct sunlight into the scene, with detailed shadows.
  • We render a sky (without a sun), then use this sky to add the indirect sky light to the scene.
  • We then trace the sunlight’s path as it bounces off the ground and stadium. When sunlight hits a surface, it takes on that surface color, bounces off, and lights objects around it. We add that indirect light into the scene.
  • We do the same with the crowd (up to 50,000 people lit in place!)
  • All of these steps are done in HDR (high dynamic range), and tone mapped into our final frame.

The players are handled in a similar way. They are lit by the sun, the sky, the stadium, and the ground around them. They also sample the environment to get reflections and gloss energy. The goal is to always make the player feel like he belongs to the world around him.

MLB 09 The Show - Pedroia Face Comp

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll just let them speak for themselves. Scroll through the filmstrip images to see all the step-by-step (click on them to download full resolution). I hope you are as excited about this year’s lighting as we are, and have a blast with MLB 09 The Show!

MLB 09 The Show - WAS Comp MLB 09 The Show - Pedroia Slide Comp

Comments are closed.


  • I pre-ordered this game last week. Time to replace my MLB 2K7!

  • Beautiful

  • I still can’t believe MLB The Show and NBA The Inside are made by the same developer.

  • Lookin good!!

  • Hey a question, if you can answer it that would be great! I’ve noticed when playing the demo that the crowd looks similar in almost every spec of the stadium. Now will there be a more variety int he crowd or will they do the same thing together at the same time or do something different. I noticed when the crowd cheers mostly the same guy in a different part of the stadium is doing the same thing.

  • @3 They are made by the same company, but different development teams… so that’s why one game is awesome and the other is crap.

  • Actually upon further review, that is SICK!!! Love the dedication by the SCEA SD crew… this game is the crown jewel.

  • I cant not wait for this game, I have honestly played the demo prob twice a day since it came out, even though Im horrible at it (thats a different story). You guys did an amazing job keep up the good work. Cant wait for RTTS with my Cardinals!!!! Thanks

  • This game is going to look so cool. The graphics are like WOW!! I always have said that on pretty much every MLB The Show blogs :)

    Thanks for the info!

  • interesting piece of knowledge; thanks for sharing. can’t wait to see it in real time.

  • Candiria, the demo is already on the PlayStation Store. You don’t have to wait to see it in real-time.

  • Yeah, the demo is definitely a looker. I’m glad visual fidelity like this is possible on the PS3. Coupled with great gameplay, sports games, FPS, racing, etc. not only play like a dream but look genuinely amazing.

    Now all we need to do is translate that to the marketing department :)

  • MLB The Show is my most favourite sports franchise. but please sony bring it EU. this game should be played worldwide =)

  • When will we just get a blog with just gameplay.

  • I’ve heard people say they see no difference from last years. My question to those people…Can i get a hit!? Keep up the great work people.

  • This amazing for MLB games I’m definately getting this

  • I had no idea the first pic was from a video game, LOL.

  • The screenshots got me wondering. Games always seem to show sold out crowds in florida, washington, or anywhere else that never gets sold out.. Why not have attendance change depending on a teams record?
    Good team: bigger crowd
    Bad team: empty seats

  • Ditto on the request for gameplay videos. I’m tired of websites posting 2k9 videos without seeing anything from The Show.

  • I’m not usually into this kind of stuff, but this was a pretty interesting post. Really looking forward to the game

  • Love this game, can’t wait til 09 comes out!

  • #18: That is in this year’s game. Teams with poor records will have fewer people in the stadium. Already been confirmed. :D

    Also, the demo is based on a build of the game back in mid-December 2008. A good deal of changes have been put in place.

    I’ve got the game pre-ordered and can’t wait for March 3rd to come around. You guys at SCEA are amazing.

  • Love the HDR, awesome job, can’t wait to get this game DAY ONE. >:|

  • WOW!

    Fantastic article. These are the type of blogs I love to see here. Especially with the best baseball franchise out there. Amazing work, and this is some of the best lighting I have seen in a sports game ever, and borderline any game!

    Awesome job. Thanks for the article.

  • Pretty cool! :D

    I’m actually into 3D modeling myself (still new, but learning :) )

    Here are two things I’ve made…




  • the game looks insanely good guys! the best MLB the show yet. cannot wait.


  • Man, I’d KILL for EA’s NHL series to have visuals like this. /cry

    Why does it have to be a damn baseball game that looks this good?

  • lighting seems to be the new ps3 exclusive theme, and I’m loving it. Can’t wait to get this game.

  • I wana see a pic of turner field in this game. Please

  • so next blog post will be Surprise pick up your MLB 09 THe show today!

    Huh? well?

    I guess I can hope :\

  • And the wait gets that much worse…

  • all i can say is WOW u guys did a great job! this might be my first next gen baseball game :-P

  • I’m amazed at the rendering processes games can produce on the fly these days. The line between film and games is getting mighty fine :)

  • Very nice, can’t wait!

  • You all can call me crazy, but I am looking more forward to this game than even Killzone 2. While I do have both already pre-ordered and paid for, The Show is the one that I am most anxious to play. I’m not just saying that…seriously!

    Enough of the teases already! Just get the game out and let me play!

  • Dang I can’t imagine how long it took to make this.

    Less than 2 weeks left! Hibernate me until then!

  • Liked the demo i’m geeting it for sure i like how day turns into night in the evening games

  • I take it that none of your beautiful lighting effects are present in the PSP version of the game? :(

  • wow this game looks amazing. too bad I don’t understand baseball :)

  • Yea…I’m definitely picking this game up first day its released…loved the demo. Great job guys!

  • Man i seriously can’t wait to play the real game..the demo was awesome..killzone 2 and MLB 09 the show..what more can a gamer want? =]

  • This is the best baseball game on the market. Good for you Sony. I can’t wait to buy this, it’s dropping on my b-day too, happy birthday to me.

  • It is amazing how good MLB09 really is. I went back to 08 the other night and it looks like Sega Genesis in comparison (ok I’m exagerating a lot).

    This lighting stuff has brought the game and PS3 to a whole another level. I can’t wait to see and play a game in Fenway.

    The lighting just makes everything look that much more detailed, anticipating that other games (Madden 2010) will hopefully pick up on this. Just a week and a half left….officially demo-d out.

  • The game looks good ! Give The Road to the Show a Co-op That I could experience with a friend, or even a couple friends. Thanks!

  • SCEA,

    You guys are really close to creating the perfect baseball game.

    What you need to do is take a couple of things from 2k9 for next year.

    I would love to see your version of 2K9’s “real time” concept, so the dugouts are full of real player models. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine to see one of my batters drive in a couple of runs with a double, yet he’s in the dugout giving high fives to the players who just scored, when he’s supposed to be on second.

    By adding this feature, along with batboys, ball girls and weather (so you can get you closed roofs) The Show could finally surpass MVP 2005 as the greatest baseball game EVER. That my friends is a FACT

  • ALL of these updates look awesome!
    i also had a question that got burried in the other blogs so i was wondering if anyone could answer them for me please???

    1) w/ all of those additions to Fran. mode (ie 40-man roster, waiver trans, sal. arbit., and sept call-ups) will those also be available in the Career Mode or just Fran mode? it’s prob a dumb question i just wanted to make sure

    2) i can’t remember what you said but if classic stadiums aren’t in this game, what are the possiblities of you guys ever coming out w/ a map-pack type thing like i’ve seen done w/ other games where all u’d have on it would be those additional classic stadiums and maybe even HR derby? i don’t really know how those map-packs work so i don’t know if that would work for this type of game (since i’ve yet to buy a map-pack, just liked the idea)

    thanks! very, very excited for the release

  • Im not into sport games, but this one sure as hell looks amazing.

  • Please someone get passed this NFL Exclusive licensing for EA. This developer would make the best NFL Game and break through into the next level beyond redundant Madden year after year! MLB 08 was one of the best sports experiences i have ever come across and looks like this will be even better!

  • @womfalcs3,

    thanks; but i meant the final retail version. i am not sure when the demo was created.

  • I’m not a HUGE fan of baseball games, but there’s no doubt that the lighting in this game is EXTREMELY impressive! It’s good to hear that developers are paying more and more attention to the little details that really bring a game to life! :)

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