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Ben Hogan Golf Game: Made In Troy, Royal Oak

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Golfer Maiya Tanaka of San Diego, Calif. takes a swing during production of a new golf video game Thursday in Troy.

Golfer Maiya Tanaka of San Diego, Calif. takes a swing during production of a new golf video game Thursday in Troy.

mattroush Matt Roush
Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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If you think Michigan’s film, video and game creation tax credits aren’t creating any jobs, well, don’t tell that to the dozen or more people gathered this week at a video studio in Troy.

Royal Oak-based Pixofactor Entertainment has won a deal to produce a new video game based on golf legend Ben Hogan’s classic 1957 book, “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.”

And after months of preparation, working with Detroit-based Critical Moves USA, they were shooting two professional golfers in special motion capture suits at Davo Studios, a nondescript building off Rochester Road.

“We had casting for a month and a half to find the swing most similar to Ben Hogan’s,” said Sean Hurwitz, Pixofactor’s CEO. “We found one in Florida, one in California, both professional golfers, out of hundreds of applicants.”

This week, those golfers spent four days in motion suits taking every form of golf swing imaginable, and doing everything else associated with a golf game, from swatting a fly to breaking a club over their knee to admiring a new golf shirt.

A video of the shooting is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-ZX8P98Tg0.

Officials of the Michigan Film Office and the Oakland County film office were also observing the shooting Thursday — making sure the shoot was indeed eligible for the state’s 42 percent tax credit on all creative spending in Michigan.

Gov.-Elect Rick Snyder once vowed to eliminate the credit, but Michigan’s creative industry has been reaching out to him for months now, trying to convince him to change his mind. Hurwitz said he was encouraged to see that Snyder had appointed Andy Dillon — former Democratic state House speaker and a backer of the incentives — as state treasurer.

Pixelfactor is creating the game in three platforms — mobile and tablet, interactive Web and Wii console. The mobile and Web applications are due out this spring, while the Wii game probably won’t be available until Christmas 2011, according to Hurwitz and Pixelfactor chief creative officer Chris Firestone.

How did production of this game make it to Troy? Firestone happened to meet the California company that had licensed the gaming rights to Five Lessons, and discovered they were going to make a DVD out of it. Firestone instead suggested that a multi-platform game would probably generate a lot more sales and visibility.

Hurwitz said the Pixelfactor team brought the opportunity to their Michigan investors, who worked with Pixelfactor to create Ben Hogan of Michigan LLC, which is the entity developing the game.

Now that the motion capture is in the computer, Pixelfactor staff will spend 30 to 45 days cleaning up the data, Firestone said. Then, designers will put their avatar of Ben Hogan over the top of the motion capture data and make him come alive.

More at www.criticalmovesusa.com or www.pixelfactor.com.

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