Personally, we at The Midnight Gamer can just about hobble together enough equipment, time and knowledge to get an occasional stream together for about 30 people. The concept of stringing together multiple daily streams, from multiple locations for thousands, is a daily occurrence for well known YouTubers like The Yogscast.
By Bradley McManus
I was lucky enough to go down to Bristol and spend and evening at the aptly named YogTowers office. When working with The Yogscast group it is common to find everything has a "Yog" prefix! They're network of YouTubers all working from the same building, looked after by their CEO Mark "Turps" Turpin and Head Honcho, Lewis "Xephos" Brindley. Their company was created from filming raiding videos on World of Warcraft with a few friends. Fast forward about 8 years and they have a family of over 20 channels, millions of subscribers, billions of views and many more staff than just those making the videos.
Check out their main channel here: www.youtube.com/user/BlueXephos/
As time moves on and technology develops, the people creating these videos have to adapt too. Twitch is another video game service which live streams users gameplay and allows them to interact with the people watching and get subscribers or donations to support them. These days YouTube alone isn't enough.
To stream on twitch, you only really need a PC. Of course you also really should have a fast internet connection, a pretty good personality or damn high skill level, time to play on a regular basis and some basics of video and audio know how.
Sam Gibbs, affectionately known as S.A.M due to his kinesthetic awareness with technology, runs a lot of the streams along with Steve "KnightsofNeon" Bruce. The image above is from their control room which is actually a few rooms over from where the gamers actually sit and stream from. It's an insane combination of wires, computers, cameras, props, promotional cider and console controllers - the magic is in the editing, which can transform a set up into something visually different.
It makes the above table/camera confusion into a live D&D campaign that looks like this:
Sam works closely with the people in the videos to make sure that the set-up is exactly what is needed and does a lot of live editing on the fly - so we asked him a few questions about how he actually keeps the process in check.
How long does it take to actually set the stream up?
Nowadays it doesn't take very long at all to set up for a livestream, assuming it's a typical stream set up, i.e. 2 guys playing on 2 PCs, it's takes about 5-10 minutes plus as long as it takes for the machines to boot. Back when I first started running the livestreams in December 2013 it would take a lot longer and I'd leave myself around an hour and a half to set up. The room used to be set up quite differently back then, there would be a lot more unplugging, moving things around from night to night due the limitations of the room, so the set up took a lot longer and required more time to test the audio / visual connections. We've changed it quite a bit since then, nothing really moves around any more so it's all a bit more streamlined, a bit more reliable, I can trust it'll work without testing (mostly!) And of course, the more we've been livestreaming, the more comfortable I've got with the set up, the faster I've been able to plug it all in, our templates are a lot better now so I can just load them up and we're good to go.
But there's the D&D streams as mentioned above, they must confuse things a bit?
They are the exception to nothing really moving around any more. Last week it took me a little over an hour to move the room around and set up, but we'll definitely get that time down one we've finalised everything, we've been making small changes each week to the camera and sound set up, art assets, etc. It takes a little while to figure it all out. There's a lot of differences in the room itself compared to a typical stream, we move all the desks around, cameras, bring in extra cameras, lights, microphones, portable greenscreens, so it's quite a lot of work. (the image above is what Sam sent over). In the studio itself though it doesn't change much, we use a different template to accommodate the different camera set up and overlays, but it all basically runs the same.
It's not uncommon for the streams run from the afternoon,into the night - it can't be the usual 9-5 job?
During December my hours were all over the place. Me and Steve were doing different day and night shifts depending on the streams, if I was doing the stream, Steve would cover the day from around 10 until 6, and I'd come in between 2 - 3 until the end of the stream, or the over way around if Steve was covering the stream.
Given how hot my laptop get's when trying to stream Hearthstone, you must have some pretty epic equipment powering this?
The Mac running the video switching has 96GB of ram. So there's that for a start :)
The day that I attended the stream was the infamous and brilliant karaoke night which is better seen that explained, Turps opened up the stream with a cover of the Donny Osmond Disney classic from Mulan, "Make a Man Out of You". Unfortunately due to copyright claims coming out of their ears, it's not possible to watch these gems again, but I'll give you a little insight (bear in mind this was near the end of the night and Earth Song is a bit of a tradition).
Just remember that in this night alone, the team raised over forty six thousand dollars. Yes, that's $46,000. Every year in December the team do mammoth daily streams with money raised going to a set group of charities, the 2015 Jam raised over $1 MILLION for charity. That's only a good thing.
I've spent time with these guys and I've watched a lot of people streaming finding a few things in common. They're all having fun. Honestly it's that simple. Yeah, you have to know a bit about computers, you have to be entertaining but if you're doing this and having fun, it's a good place to start.
I watched in amazement at the speed editing and live streaming skills of Sam so I just want to give you a little rundown of the edits he was making.
OK, so one of those things may not be true.
My point is, there is a tonne of stuff that happens behind the scenes that you never see. I'm a tech guy and I like to think I know what I'm doing but honestly, there was a brief 5 second period where I was alone in the room and felt the horror flood over me that I might need to do something. I had no idea how this stuff was being executed and the production quality makes these streams all the better for it.
We at The Midnight Gamer have tried to take on some of Sam's advice. Like I said at the start, we had 30 viewers at one point. Watch out.
You can follow Sam on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/03gibbss