Major League Gaming (MLG), a professional video game league based in New York City, is using three Broadcast Pix video production systems to produce simultaneous live webcasts of its MLG Pro Circuit events.
Offering more than $700,000 in season prizes, the 2010 MLG Pro Circuit season features team competitors for Halo 3 and World of Warcraft, in addition to individual competitors for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Tekken 6, and StarCraft II. According to Lee Chen, MLG senior vice president of premium services, each tournament event attracts close to 15,000 spectators, including thousands of amateur and professional players, and delivers more than 1.9 million live streams during each event weekend at www.mlgpro.com
Event production services provider LubieRocks began working with MLG in 2006 taping for broadcast on cable networks. For the last two years, however, MLG began streaming coverage of its events live on its own website. According to LubieRocks founder David Elliott, MLG executives decided to make the move to HD production last year. MLG purchased three Broadcast Pix video production systems, one Slate 5000 and two Slate 1000s.
“We went from a series of SD switchers to Slates, and it dramatically raised our production quality,” Chen recalled.
To accommodate the MLG Pro Circuit coverage, LubieRocks built a portable production system that is housed in two seven-foot long, six-foot high racks. LubieRocks has already produced three MLG Pro Circuit events using its Broadcast Pix systems this year, including MLG Raleigh last month in Raleigh, N.C. Two additional events are scheduled through the end of 2010.
The Halo 3 tournament feed is produced using the Slate 5000, while the Slate 1000s are used to cover the other contests. According to Elliott, there are no fewer than 20 external sources during a typical Halo 3 production, including four HD studio cameras, eight lipstick cameras to capture player reactions, and eight game console outputs.
“The action happens so quickly,” Chen added. “There are some unique challenges to these productions, and the Slates really rise to meet those challenges.”
MLG relies on the Slate 5000’s built-in Fluent file-based workflow tools during its coverage. Multilayer graphics are loaded in Fluent Macros and recalled in various configurations; for example, a picture-in-picture setup can show the feed of a game being played with an inset of a lipstick camera focused on the player. The webcast productions also include a number of commercials and extensive clips.
“The Slate 5000 is an elegant, one-box solution that helps makes this complicated production much more manageable,” said Peter Zawadzki, who serves as technical director for MLG Pro Circuit coverage. “From the multiviewer to the clip store and macros, its Fluent workflow tools really make a big difference."
At the venue, there are three separate stages for tournament action. The Halo stage features three projection screens, so spectators can follow the action. The center screen showcases the webcast feed, while the two outside screens offer a quad split of game action, so the game can be seen from each player’s viewpoint.
“The results are miles ahead of what we were doing in SD,” Elliott said. “So far, everything is fantastic with the system. We grew with the capabilities of the Broadcast Pix into a more cohesive event.”
Eventually, the plan is to upgrade to Granite systems and produce MLG Pro Circuit coverage in 1080p. “We want that full throughput at 1080p to preserve the high quality of the game graphics,” he explained. “We are very fortunate to have MLG as a client, because they want the best.”