Denison Cabral, left, waits as junior Emmanuel Lewis attaches the markers to the motion capture suit.
But Brazilian Denison Cabral wasn’t there for an exhibition match. Instead he was inside the school’s motion capture studio performing bicycle kicks and headers while donning an all-black outfit to which round, gray markers were affixed by velcro.
It was the introduction of the motion capture studio at Frederick Douglass, and Federal Hill 3D animation and game studio Bully! Entertainment was there to capture the movements of Cabral and teammate Lucas Roque to inform the graphics of their new game, “Pelé: King of Football.”
The mobile game recreates Pele’s soccer career from childhood to professional life. Players, by flicking their finger across their tablet and phone screens, control Pelé as he kicks and heads soccer balls toward different goalies. In production since June, Pelé’s movements have thus far been illustrated and animated by Bully’s in-house team of programmers.
But to get more real-life movements, Bully enlisted the help of Frederick Douglass High School’s motion capture studio. Frederick Douglass junior Emmanuel Lewis was in charge of manning the computer software and in-studio cameras that were used to digitally record Cabral’s and Roque’s movements.
Lewis, a student in the Frederick Douglass High School RAMP program, gets a credit for his motion capture work on “Pele.” RAMP, according to its director Lynn Patterson, is a career-track program for students interested in recording, arts, media production and game development. In addition to their typical high school science, math, English and history classes, RAMP students take courses in such subjects as 3D modeling, photography and web development.
“This is our STEM offering,” said Patterson, who has been an instructor at Frederick Douglass High since 1998.
Bringing Frederick Douglass High School and Bully together was nonprofit Code in the Schools, known for sponsoring after-school game development programs at city public schools. Code in the Schools cofounder Michael LeGrand, a veteran of Big Huge Games who took a severance package once the company went belly-up, was hired by Bully over the summer.
“We had a meeting with Baltimore City Public Schools in the fall about how to bring tech industry partners into schools,” said Gretchen LeGrand, Code in the Schools cofounder (and Michael’s wife).
The motion capture studio inside Frederick Douglass High ended up being the ideal fit. Typically, Bully heads to New York City for its motion capture needs, said Chris Coscarelli, project manager for the new “Pelé” game. By doing its motion capture work locally, Bully not only saves money, he said, but also gives students a chance to leave their mark on a game in development.
As for the game itself: A global release to both iOS and Android is scheduled for late February, Coscarelli said. “Pelé” will be free to download, but in-app purchases — to upgrade Pele’s standard kick to a fireball kick, for example — will cost players money.