Video: Esports Broadcast Production

Esports is entering the mainstream and continuing to grow. Even without the pandemic, esports was set to grow in 2020 and 2021; this growth has only been strengthened by the pandemic. The exclamations about getting paid to pay computer games are gradually giving way to conversations about the sport itself.

In this show, Eric Fischman from Blizzard Games tlks to hosts Michael Clouse and Ben Ganz about his work producing TV shows followig esports, specifically the Blizzard Overwatch league. Overwatch is an action based shooter with a team of 6 playing against another team of 6. This works perfectly for esports because the game is inherently a team event whereby each gamer has to rely on others in his team.

Eric produces the daily pre- and post-show for the event and says that the workflows he uses are no different from those at ESPN or similar sports broadcasters. The only difference is that they have an added function – observers. Observers act as camera operators within the game showing key events from behind the perpetrator’s shoulder or from above to see everything unfold.

Eric sees his job as to humanise the stars which helps the viewers connect and care about them. Just like traditional sports will have colour pieces which tell you more about the athletes you like, so do these shows give you the same insight into the individuals but also the story of the event as a whole.

Investors are currently very happy to come in and buy teams. Eric explains that Blizzard’s approach is to establish geographic teams such as London, Singapore and a whole host of American cities. And it’s not just VCs behind the action, Comcast Sports Group has bought in the Philadephia team,

The gamers work hard, often 12 hours a day learning the game and its changes. This can lead to mental fatigue or other problems so players get a week or more off between most tournaments. While they’re doing that, they figure about what the ‘meta’ of the game is. This is another word for determining the best approach to winning the game and as the game is patched, the meta can change.

An interesting discussion is what’s the longevity of esports both as a genre of sports and per game. Since the mid 1850s, we have been playing rugby. We will still be playing esports in 100 years time, but will they be recognisable?

There was a lot more to the conversation so please:
Watch now!

Eric Fischman Eric Fischman
Features Producer, Global Broadcast
Blizzard Entertainment
Ben Ganz Ben Ganz
Michael Clouse Host: Michael Clouse
Host & Producer

Video: Understanding esports production

Esports is here to stay and brings a new dimension on big events which combine the usual challenges of producing and broadcasting events at scale with less usual challenges such as non-standard resolutions and frame rates. This session from the IBC 2019 conference looks at the reality of bringing such events to life.

The talk starts with a brief introduction to some Esports-only terms before heading into the discussions starting with Simon Eicher who talks about his switch toward typical broadcast tools for Esports which has helped drive better production values and story telling. Maxwell Trauss from Riot Games explains how they incubated a group of great producers and were able keep production values high by having them working on shows remotely worldwide.

Blizzard uses the technique of using a clean ‘world feed’ which is shared worldwide for regions to regionalise it with graphics and language before then broadcasting this to the world. In terms of creating better storytelling, Blizzard have their own software which interprets the game data and presents it in a more consumable way to the production staff.

Observers are people who control in-game cameras. A producer can call out to any one of the observers. The panel talks about how separating the players from the observers from the crowd allows them to change the delay between what’s happening in the game and each of these elements seeing it. At the beginning of the event, this creates the opportunity to move the crowd backwards in time so that players don’t get tipped off. Similarly they can be isolated from the observers for the same effect. However, by the end of the game, the delays have been changed to bring everyone back into present time for a tense finale.

Corey Smith from Blizzard explains the cloud setup including clean feeds where GFX is added in the cloud. This would lead to a single clean feed from the venue, in the end. ESL, on the other hand choose to create their streams locally.

Ryan Chaply from Twitch explains their engagement models some of which reward for watching. Twitch’s real-time chat banner also changes the way productions are made because the producers have direct feedback from the viewers. This leads, day by day, to tweaks to the formats where a production may stop doing a certain thing by day three if it’s not well received, conversely when something is a hit, they can capitalise on this.

Ryan also talks about what they are weighing up in terms of when they will start using UHD. Riot’s Maxwell mentions the question of whether fans really want 4K at the moment, acknowledging it’s an inevitability, he asks whether the priority is actually having more/better stats.

The panel finishes with a look to the future, the continued adoption of broadcast into Esports, timing in the cloud and dealing with end-to-end metadata and a video giving a taste of the Esports event.

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Simon Eicher Simon Eicher
Executive Producer, Director of Broadcast, eSports Services,
Ryan Chaply Ryan Chaply
Senior Esports Program Manager,
Corey Smith Corey Smith
Director, Live Operations Broadcast Technology Group,
Maxwell Trauss Maxwell Trauss
Broadcast Architect,
Riot Games
Jens Fischer Jens Fischer
Global Esport Specialist and Account Manager D.A.CH,