Blackmagic Design products have been extensively used in the Red Bull’s Gaming Sphere in London to create a live production workflow for broadcasting and streaming live esports from the venue. Designed and built by systems integrator Dreamtek, the esports studio incorporates the URSA Mini Pro, Micro Studio Camera 4K, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K and DeckLink 8K Pro.
The multipurpose esports studio has been created to hone the skills of players and those working behind the scenes at all levels to host tournaments, educational events and workshops. Dreamtek has designed and implemented the ultra-flexible, low latency live production workflow to deliver high quality gaming content for big screens or streamed live to Twitch, YouTube or Facebook.
“Our principal consideration was the ability to record gameplay from anywhere in the space, and deliver that at the high frame rates that gaming fans expect, anything less just wouldn’t be acceptable. We conceived an IP and SDI infrastructure from which any camera, PC or console could be captured, recorded and played out,” explains Kashaan Butt, Dreamtek’s chief engineer.
The Smart Videohub at the heart of this network handles gameplay output, as well as live camera feeds from a series of URSA Mini Pro, Micro Studio Camera 4K and 12 mini ‘gamer-cam’ units to capture players’ emotions and reactions. DeckLink 8K Pro capture cards allow high resolution playback over 12G-SDI. Handling gameplay at high frame rates is frankly essential in esports production,” continued Kashaan. “The Decklink 8K gives us the flexibility and the production values we need, no matter how many consoles we’re handling during an event.”
Multiple capture methods are used throughout the system, including SSD recording from the URSA Mini Pro cameras, multichannel H.264 encoders feeding into a streaming server and a series of HyperDeck Studio Mini for 4K recording. “Support for H.264 was a particularly important element in simplifying the workflow,” explains Kashaan. “Competitive games can last for several hours and we previously had to transcode to reduce the data capacity requirement on our storage.”
Multiple program mixes are produced with an ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, which gives Red Bull the capacity to cover several events running in different areas of the Sphere simultaneously. “As well as the four M/E busses, the ATEM’s chroma key controls are crucial, as we’ve included a studio space with bluescreen, where expert commentators and presenters can be overlayed onto the gameplay feed,” explains Kashaan.
“Red Bull has an international reputation for cutting edge content and this had to be retained as it progressed into the esports market,” he concludes. “We knew from the outset that a Blackmagic Design workflow would deliver the production values required, as we can rely on the equipment to do what it needs to, whether it’s acquisition, distribution, control or capture. For an integrator working to tight timeframes to source, preconfigure, install and test our solutions, that is worth its weight in gold.”