If Twitch has taught us anything, it’s that Esports has become a huge phenomenon in recent years. Esports, or electronic sports, is a form of professional, competitive gaming where players and teams compete to be the best in the world in their respective video games. It’s similar to how real sports work but instead of playing on a field, players compete on a computer or TV screen. With millions of fans around the world cheering for players in countless games, this new 21st-century subculture is beginning to develop a home of its own, with facilities popping up specifically catering to Esports events.
“Esports has grown as an industry because of widespread access to technology and an increased platform for talent to be recognized and encouraged,” said John Christensen, Broadcast Director at Esports Arena.
“With the growth of online platforms such as Twitch and Youtube, content creators have been able to reach audiences like never before in history. In addition to individuals and small organizations, larger companies have taken on large and exciting productions that rival anything seen on traditional media.”
One such facility is the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, California. Founded in 2015, the facility is a central location for all eSports activity in Southern California, hosting small weekly tournaments for games like Super Smash Bros, Street Fighter, Overwatch and much more. Occasionally, the facility is also host to some of the year’s largest gaming events, most of which attract hundreds of competitors and thousands of fans.
Just as how athletic sports venues strive to provide a thrilling and exciting experience for their audiences in attendance and at home, the Esports Arena aims to do the same. With an extensive video production setup and broadcasting crew, the guys over at the arena do everything they can to put their viewers in the heart of the action and capture every moment of hype. But this time, they wanted to try something new.
Up Close and Far Behind
The “2GGC: Civil War” tournament is one of the biggest Super Smash Bros events of the year, with the world’s strongest Smash players in attendance at the arena, hundreds of attendees and thousands of viewers watching the stream. For this and all future events, Christensen and his team decided to add some new elements to their normal tournament production: an aerial camera in the outdoor venue that could capture footage from above, and a mobile camera that could travel freely around the facility to get dramatic close-up shots.
Integrating a system like this proved to be a challenge though, as the crew needed a way to reliably transport the video feeds to professional switchers located inside. To do this, Christensen turned to the Teradek Bolt 1000 and Bolt 3000.
For their new setup, Christensen and his crew installed a Defy Dactylcam Pro hanging camera system on their outdoor venue (which occupies a portion of the street outside the arena). A Sony A7S camera was mounted to the Dactylcam system, sending a live aerial feed to a mounted Bolt 3000 Tx. The Bolt, able to transmit wireless video with zero delay at up to 3000 ft., sent the 1080p feed to a Bolt Rx connected to their Blackmagic ATEM 4K studio switcher inside the facility, where an operator monitored the feed and controlled the pan/tilt of the camera as well as the speed/direction of the Dactylcam rig.
For the mobile camera, they attached a Sony FS5 to a Ronin MX stabilizer and Teradek Bolt 1000 Tx. With the Bolt, the camera operator was able to film around the venue and on stage and transmit the feed directly to the same switcher, which switched between multiple feeds, added graphics and edited scoreboards before streaming it to Twitch.tv.
An Immersive Experience
When it comes to broadcasting Esports events, capturing the excitement and passion of the game is key to creating an unforgettable, emotional experience for the Esports community. For the production team at Esports Arena, they accomplished this by adopting the best in broadcast technology for their fans.
“Capturing the energy and intensity of attending an Esports event and bringing that to an online audience is an extremely important part of the vision for our production team,” said Christensen. “The Bolt gave us the reliability and quality that our production demanded, and gave us the opportunity to bring our online audiences into the event.”
The Bolt was crucial to their outdoor Dactylcam and Ronin setup. Instead of having to run cables into the air, which would be difficult to manage and be a safety hazard to pedestrians below, the feed was broadcasted using RF and instantly picked up by the studio switcher inside the facility. This allowed the camera to move freely in the air and adjust to film the audience/stage whenever the operator needed it to.
But having the Bolt on the Ronin was even more effective. With an untethered rig, the camera operator had complete freedom to capture the most dramatic elements of the competition. “We were able to have the players be at their seats far away, film them as they walked up to the stage and follow them without being tagged by a cable or having still shots,” said Tyler Evans, COO of Esports Arena.
Being able to get close-up shots of tournament players as they approached the stage and when they won their sets, as well as capturing the expressions and emotions of the players in the last final moments of a match all helped simulate the experience of being there in person. The aerial shots also highlighted the scale of the event, helping viewers visualize the scope of it all.
“Communicating the excitement that fans have for their teams and players takes Esports from being simply something to watch and makes it something you can be a part of. In addition to the fans, capturing the players and their passion for their sport is incredibly important. When so much practice, training, and competition comes down to the last few button presses before a champion is decided, emotions can go wild. Capturing that moment is the highest goal for us.”