Blackmagic Design backbone for ProArena
SAUDI ARABIA: Blackmagic Design’s production equipment has been called into action at ProArena, Saudi Arabia’s first purpose built live stream video games studio. The brainchild of Raied Al Jolayfi, and developed in conjunction with the Media Solution Department of Bin Talib Trading Company (BTCO), the studio not only hosts video games tournaments, but also produces a live stream of the action.
The studio is targeting the large eSports audience in the Kingdom. It required a video production workflow that would enable the ProArena team to capture every emotion of the players and audience, as well as the battles taking place on screen.
‘My background is in video games, so when I started to look for a new business opportunity, I naturally gravitated to this area,’ explained Mr Al Jolayfi. ‘I knew there was a gap in the market for a Saudi gaming hub, but one that would have the capacity for both individuals and teams to compete, and enable the region’s gaming superstars to have a fantastic platform, whether from a physical or online environment perspective.’
Working closely with Manoj Kumar from BTCO, ProArena mapped out the infrastructure that would help elevate its eSports production to the same professional levels that can be seen in other aspects of the gaming world. ‘Together we agreed that a key element for game production was the ability to capture ebb and flow of player emotions as they compete,’ noted Mr Al Jolayfi. ‘The margins between winning and losing are so finite, and conveying every twist and turn as a competition unfolds is as much about the individual player reactions as it is the game play.
‘In particular we wanted to be able to show the simultaneous reactions of both teams, which really demonstrates the drama and tension during a tournament,’ he continued. ‘So, as well as having multiple small cameras set up around each gamer’s seat, we also needed to have a production switcher that was capable of handling a huge amount of inputs, in order to give us plenty of creative production options and help build the excitement during a competition.’
To meet this need, ProArena turned to Blackmagic Design’s Atem 2 M/E Production Studio 4K. ‘Not only can we handle multiple live camera feeds, but we can also take multiple live feeds from the individual gaming computers, PS4s or Xboxes, which outputs are converted by BMD’s HDMI to SDI mini converters and captured using DeckLink I/O boards,’ said Mr Al Jolayfi. ‘As well as offering great flexibility, the switcher also gives us some fantastic professional effects that give us an added dimension to our production. For example the SuperSource feature means we can have multiple camera feeds on screen at once, which is ideal for showing all of the individual player reactions and emotions during a multiplayer tournament.
‘We also use picture-in-picture to offer another perspective and help us stand out from other live stream channels,’ he continued. ‘To operate the switcher we acquired an Atem 2 M/E Broadcast Panel, which again helps elevate our production and gives it a true broadcast feel. We can also take in feeds from gamers who are participating in their own homes, who connect to the studio’s server, so we can incorporate them into the programme mix seamlessly. This means the scope for local, national or even international tournaments is huge.’
Mr Al Jolayfi notes a number of other features ProArena has taken advantage of, such as the ability to work with a variety of formats. Added to this, by using the manufacturer’s DeckLink Studio 4K and DeckLink Quad cards it has multiple inputs into one PC, so the production team can move from programme screen to preview screen to multiview screen.
After successful testing of the live stream production, the studio added a HyperDeck Studio Pro into the workflow to allow it to record the tournaments. In order to streamline this content further, PanArena will also look to develop its online editing skills, using DaVinci Resolve as its main editing software.
‘The popularity and continued growth in online viewers prove that eSports has the potential to rival traditional sports audiences, so it is critical that we offer professional production values that truly capture the thrills and spills of gaming tournaments, particularly in markets as ours, where we are just starting to see the superstars of tomorrow emerge. The Blackmagic equipment at ProArena delivers the reliability and breadth of features that we need to help eSports get to the next level,’ concluded Mr Al Jolayfi.