OS Studios Utilizes VSAR to Set Record Viewership at Annihilator Cup
Since its inception in 2018, OS Studios has led the market in creative content and live production for leading brands seeking to engage with the gaming and esports communities. To achieve this, OS Studios has developed cutting-edge live and remote broadcast production capabilities, growing rapidly as the company continues to innovate and build out its experience-driven core competencies in creative content and production. Today, the company is a Project Worldwide Agency with a staff made up of “internet kids” who know how to reach audiences with the content they love.
“Our team is incredibly young but also endemic and authentic to the world of gaming,” says Will Abreu, head of broadcast at OS Studios. “So when brands want to speak to demographics that have gaming in their blood, we’re the agency they go to.”
OS Studios has made Chyron’s PRIME graphics playout a central element of its esports broadcasts. In fact, over the past several years, OS Studios graphic designer Daniel Higgins — the very first Chyron Academy Black Belt for Chyron PRIME — has served as PRIME graphics operator both on-prem and remotely from his college dorm room in Michigan.
“eSports relies heavily on bringing real-time stats, scores and, supplementary graphics to the viewer,” explains Abreu. “It’s not always as easy as viewing a baseball game or football game where you can see exactly what’s going on. Using PRIME graphics playout, we’ve been able to really bring the story of every game to our viewers at home.”
To bring the visually oriented audiences of esports broadcasts an even more immersive experience for high-profile online events including the MapleStory Fest 2022 in Los Angeles and 2022 AT&T Annihilator Cup 2.0, OS Studios took on the challenge of incorporating a stylized virtual set into its productions. To meet this challenge, the agency needed a graphics solution that would enable it to break down barriers separating the host and game environment, in turn giving the gaming community the more authentic experiences they appreciate.
Building on its existing PRIME graphics implementation, OS Studios worked with Chyron’s professional services team to deploy the company’s PRIME VSAR, which merges the cutting-edge graphics of Epic Games’ Unreal® Engine with Chyron’s built-for-broadcast design, editorial, and live production capabilities. Artists within OS Studios collaborated with Chyron’s creative services team to design the virtual elements needed to create just the right look and feel.
“The process of bringing out our visuals from Cinema 4D or another 3D creation tool into Unreal Engine and then into Chyron VSAR so that it could be used in live production was relatively painless,” says Abreu. “This collaborative process with Chyron was our first experience creating a virtual set. Going into it, we had no idea what to expect, but it was a blast!”
The MapleStory Fest event, in particular, called for a quick turnaround, with many layers, and the main goal was to bring host Jimmy Wong into the MapleStory world. Chyron and OS Studios did that by literally building elements from the game in 3D and bringing them through Unreal and into VSAR. At that point, controlling graphics in the virtual world is as easy for producers as working with any other graphic element in a conventional rundown.
Using panels created by Chyron, OS Studios operators — even those unfamiliar with traditional broadcast systems and workflows — were able to make camera moves, bring up and move graphics, and trigger elements inside the project as needed. Virtual cameras within the set add an element of motion. Because it’s a trackless implementation, the camera movement doesn’t have to be tracked.
“We’ve created different endpoints per camera, and what we can do is decide how long it takes for a camera to go from point A to point B,” says Abreu. “Once we know where we need to go and how long it’s going take to go there, we trigger those camera motions as if they were real cameras on a set. Those camera moves happen in real time alongside switcher-based transitions, and we use them to tell our stories more effectively — to indicate to our audiences that we’re going someplace new, we’re going someplace far away. Those camera pushes and moves, they allow us to create an environment that breathes and feels alive, and to get in and out effectively.”
One key advantage of the VSAR system is that it supports two live video inputs, and OS Studios took advantage of this for the 2022 AT&T Annihilator Cup 2.0. A live caster in front of a green screen in the studio was able to interact live to two different video inputs within the virtual set. The setup allowed the caster to react quickly to the games as play unfolded. The Chyron panels made it easy for virtually anyone on the OS Studios team to control the video inputs, update on-screen text and other elements, and add that slight camera movement that reminds the audience that the caster is in a real environment.
The AT&T Annihilator Cup was one of the most-watched properties on Twitch in 2021, and the 2022 edition hit record numbers of viewers.
“Our goal was to one-up last year’s production of the AT&T Annihilator Cup, and bringing in a virtual set just inherently made it better,” says Abreu. “Though we’re talking about people on the other sides of computer monitors, at the end of the day, we’re still telling human stories. Breaking down that wall and bringing our communities together with something completely brand new — that’s just one more step down that path to really serving the gaming demographic in a way that they appreciate.”
With successes for MapleStory Fest and AT&T Annihilator Cup 2.0 under its belt, OS Studios now can focus on refining best practices and exploring creatively in building virtual sets with Chyron VSAR for future projects.