Our client, Hasbro, contracted us to live stream the celebrity D&D matches that took place at the Madison GeekHole convention during the Extra Life charity event at the Alliant Energy Center. They provided assets, templates, the D&D twitch.tv login information, and schedules. Hasbro encouraged us to take whatever steps we needed to make it work. Our goal was simple: live stream the event with a level of quality matching the professional standards of our client and ourselves.
The first phase of pre-production was figuring out how we would make this work with only one video switcher. After a day of thinking and a “eureka” moment from Natalie, we went with tricky camera angles and loading graphics into our Blackmagic HyperDeck as video which let us use our limited crops and keying to great effect. Thanks to our client providing us graphic templates from their previous live streams, the creation and modification of existing graphics was more easily accomplished. It was a matter of taking different scenarios and planning how to adjust for them before they would happen. We were given time to do a test live stream to the D&D channel on twitch.tv a few days before the stream. As well as the chance to test the internet speed of the location. Both went perfectly, further boosting our confidence in our ability to satisfy the client. We also made sure the switcher was ready to go days ahead of schedule.
By far the biggest challenge we faced was the Alliant Energy Center’s elevator. Just our luck, it was out of service. That meant we had to carry around 1000 pounds of expensive equipment up a flight of stairs that felt more like two. The other challenge was dealing with last minute changes to graphics. One of the players during the first night was injured and had to be swapped out. This meant editing the Photoshop graphic on-site as well as loading it into the hyperdeck and secondary laptop.
We started setting up in the assigned room on Friday, a day before the two streams were taking place. Good thing we did, as having to deal with the broken elevator less than four hours away from start time would have been a production nightmare. It was a standard setup procedure after that. We set up the streaming/switching rig first, followed by tripods, cameras and cable running. The camera setup was far different than any other shoot we have done. We purposefully aimed them indirectly at the players and Dungeon Master and cropped each video in a certain way to achieve the final three-panel look.
Thanks to our planning and the extra setup time we allotted ourselves, the event was live streamed without a hitch. Almost too perfectly in fact, as the second set of players lost track of time and played for an additional hour. Despite taking over 24 hours of planning, setup and streaming, I thoroughly enjoyed this project. It’s not everyday that I get to be a part of a large event shown to hundreds of people.