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

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