FEED Issue 15

14 STREAMPUNK Shut Up & Sit Down

As a result of Lee’s past experience of feeling uninspired by the bulk of Twitch streaming, SU&SD are reaching for something different. “We’re experimenting with the format, rather than just falling into the habit of doing what people are already doing,” says Lees. The set-up they have opted for currently is one where none of the SU&SD team have to keep an eye on the technical part of the stream, including the chat. “I wanted it to be detached from us, so we wouldn’t become distracted by it,” Lees explains. “We didn’t want to have the studio environment and the coldness that can come with that – even if you are with real friends, everyone kind of freezes up and changes who they are.” He adds: “We wanted it to be like us hanging out in our living room. And it pretty much is, along with the fact that we don’t have to think about the tech, but we know it’s going to look as good, or close to as good, as our actual filmed footage on YouTube.” The streaming set-up is powered largely by Blackmagic Design. Lees has been the technical lead, teaching himself as he goes along. “It’s not really consumer-facing equipment,” he admits. “But I like a good tinker. I spent a couple of months on it and got it under control, and we can now start experimenting with it, with the ability to have a huge number of sources being plugged into it.” The streaming set-up got a serious shakedown with a ten-hour Twitch stream of classic space opera board game, Twilight Imperium, in February. It used Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K, switcher and control panel, three Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4Ks, a Canon EOS C100 and two Sony PXW-Z90s with SDI outputs. LIKE HANGING OUT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM

STREAMING SET-UP SU&SD employ a Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K, switcher and control panel for their live streams

One of the Micro Studio cameras captured individual player confessions in a separate ‘diary room‘ connected by SDI. Using a Reflecmedia green screen, the diary room used the switcher’s keyer to run a loop of a galaxy behind the players to- camera revelations about their gameplay. Two Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio Minis were employed, too. One played out pre-recorded content, including clips from SU&SD’s 2018 documentary about Twilight Imperium, called Space Lions . The second was used to record a clean version of the stream, which was then later uploaded to YouTube. The stream was captured prior to its output to Twitch, so it could be viewed without the Twitch fan commentary, which is a key part of the live experience, but not as valuable for lean-back watching. Searching for something more than the usual Twitch, talking-head commentary, SU&SD employed an illustrator, who

provided a visual caricature commentary throughout the gameplay. The drawings were captured in Photoshop, then sent to the ATEM mixing desk where they could be overlaid onto the feed as required. Other graphics assets were included to help viewers track the gameplay. The entire workflow requires little monitoring or intervention, which is essential for keeping the intimate atmosphere of the gameplay intact – especially since Lees is the only member of the team wholly at home with the technology so far. A BIT SLOWER The gear is easy enough to set up that SU&SD have been able to take it on the road. The business puts on an annual board game convention in Vancouver called SHUX. This has allowed them to livestream from the show in front of an 800-seat live audience. “I think a lot of Twitch is influenced by modern media trends of information overload,” says Lees. “A lot of video game streams are someone playing a game, then in the corner of the screen they have a video of their face, have the chat embedded and have other elements popping up. For me, it’s just a bit much. I’m increasingly fond of some of the media trends of ten or 15 years ago. If you go back and look at TV shows from then, you’re surprised by how slow they are. They’re often more like radio shows.” He concludes: “Rather than having this information overload, with mad pictures and overlays, we wanted something with the option to create something a bit less busy, a bit less intense and a bit slower.”

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