Old posts

WIP #019: TF2center – Community Solution

Posted by on December 5, 2012 | No comments

When you create a solution for TF2 players to come together and scrim you’d better not assume the project is ever done. No matter how good your solution is the players who use it day in and day out will find faults. If you let those faults fester they’ll grate on the players and eventually someone will step forward with a solution of their own. Marty thinks he’s that guy. Together with a coder their small team has been working in the shadows to bring TF2center.com to life. It is their hope that they can gather the comments and wishes of the TF2 community to provide an alternative to the unloved TF2lobby.

In this first interview I talk to Marty about the ideas they have for TF2center, how they hope to bring about change in just a few short months and what ground work they’ve laid down so far. He talks about the desire for player ranking and the need for a web designer with user interface skills. If you’d like to get involved with this project Marty can be contacted on his gmail, or you can drop a him a message in reddit.

Intro/outro created for WIP by Cryogenetic.

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WIP #018: keekerdc – Call it a comeback

Posted by on November 24, 2012 | No comments

When I first started chatting to Chris Shetter he was trailing off his career in eSports casting. For years he’d struggled to see the results from all his efforts in shoutcasting and was looking for ‘another way’ to make it fun again. Before this most recent chat we’d seen him pretty much give it all up. He’d moved with his wife to Seattle so even the “dc” moniker no longer held true.

Talking to him now it is as if he’d never left the scene though in reality he hadn’t. Choosing to blog sporadically about events in eSports that he found to be particularly irksome he’d kept a hand in. Now he’s drawing some old friends back together and exercising coding muscles to bring about a completely new eSports web service mm1.fm. Sticking to an audio only output he’s creating a web service that’ll run 24/7 gaming audio using a collection of current shows. Interrupting every so often with news updates from all aspects of gaming. The concept he likens to sports radio and is a far departure from the visual feasts of his tgbf.tv days.

Intro/outro created for WIP by Cryogenetic.

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WIP #017: VanillaTV – Putting the ex in eXtv

Posted by on November 16, 2012 | No comments

i46 was a pretty big deal for everyone who either attended or watched the streams from the UK’s largest LAN party, hosted by Multiplay in Telford. That statement is true for a great many people (500+ listed Team Fortress 2 players under one roof including two visiting teams from NA) but especially so for Comedian and his merry band of shoutcasters representing VanillaTV. We take this chance to recap some of the things that went absolutely according to plan,  including the 1milliion viewers on their twitch.tv live stream, as well as the things that didn’t like the day1 audio issues.

i46 may have contributed to the requirement for a slipstreamed method of editing, encoding and uploading video on demands (VODs) for VanillaTV. Comedian takes us through the current solution they have in place. It appears that Skyride has invested a great deal of time creating software to do the task of many men hours. Not to let his new found skills go to waste he’s now turning his attentions to Open Broadcast Software (OBS). This open source solution for live streaming stands as a new, cleaner and faster streaming solution with a small footprint allowing the casts play at a much higher quality level. Needless to say VanillaTV are looking to it rather than the paid-for alternative, XSplit, as the future of eSports casting. Skyride himself is working on plug-ins and has produced a rather nifty how-to for other casters.

Sadly it’s not all sweetness and light in the land of eSports casting. VanillaTV’s North American counterpart eXtelevision has undergone some dramatic upheavals this week. With  some of the 6v6 casters looking to move out from the shadow of the main man Jeff eXtine. Comedian explains the position he was placed in and why he’s chosen to offer VanillaTV as a new home for these leavers.  In doing so the American market opens up to him but at what cost to his friendship?

Lastly Comedian takes us through their hopes and plans for European conquest. Both Dreamhack in Sweden and Assembly in Finland are possibilities for 6v6 TF2 events though it’s impossible to ignore the problems that lay ahead in realising those dreams.

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WIP Update: KritzKast – What we do (part 2)

Posted by on July 16, 2012 | No comments

Skype is your friend

It’s not really fair that I ask you to record something in part 1 without telling you how to do that. As everyone in KritzKast is located in different parts of the world we started off trying to get a recording in mumble. The results were mixed to poor. The slightest problem with the internet would give one of us a crackling robot voice and various other little problems ensued. It may just have been that at the time we weren’t investing energy in to post production but we weren’t satisfied. We messed around with a few other applications but in the end we settled on Skype. I’m glad we did. Skype is wonderful for podkasters.

For one to one interviews it is especially simple to achieve good quality audio results. An application we’ve taken to heart is  MP3 call Recorder. Once you have it installed it can be configured to record all Skype calls at 128bit stereo. Your own audio is recorded on the left channel and all incoming sound is recorded on the right channel. I’ll talk about audio editing applications in a minute but in essence you’ll end up with two reasonably good recordings of audio that may be cleaned up, edited and shipped out with almost no skill or effort.

So that’s a two man kast sorted.. lets all go home. *le sigh* It’s never that easy. In KritzKast we have a rolling host list of  three to five presenters. Even interviews rarely involve less than three people. The limitation of MP3 Call Recorder is obvious. While the left channel will only ever have your own audio the right channel will record everybody else.

So I should take a moment to explain this problem. In normal conversations people who can see each other are able to perceive small gestures; be they leaning forward,  a glint in the eye or simply opening their mouths. There’s a wealth of information that you take on board when you’re chatting with people in real life. On the internet, even on a video call, that information is lost to you. So two people will often respond at the same time. Again, in small groups most people can elect to tune-out from those who they think may be less interesting by positioning themselves in such a way that they are either closer to or in a positionally clearer path to the people they do want to hear. Even if it’s just a case of their head turning to face them. In recorded media though this isn’t possible. KritzKast’s final edit is in joint stereo so the left and right speakers play the same track at the same time. The projected audio appears on a flat plane no matter who originated it. Effectively even two people talking together over each other makes it very difficult for the listener to tell what’s actually being said by any one person.

Golden Waves

I’ll go into some detail in a later post about how we edit the audio, suffice to say that we’ll silence or cut out the audio of one presenter when two are talking at the same time. This is only possible when you have each person recorded to a separate track. For this we use GoldWave to individually record our own tracks. I suppose any recording software will do but we are all Windows guys so that’s the best choice for us. Unlike MP3 Call Recorder, GoldWave isn’t free.  There is a long trial basis so you can get used to it and when you’re done with the trial it’s super cheap to register considering how powerful a utility it is.

The first time you launch gwave you’ll see two boxes pop up. Just close the red control box and it’ll form a tool bar in the main window. Hit F11 to get to properties and jump to the “Record” tab. On the bottom left hand corner set the record mode to “unbounded” before jumping to the “Device” tab. Here you’ll want to make sure you are recording your mic (not using the webcam or anything else connected to your PC with a mic element). Set your Mono Source to “left channel”. That should be enough to get you started.

This podkasting malarkey is no small topic and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve taken my sweet time about getting round to post about how we do it. In the next post I’ll write about coordinating a group of casters, cleaning and leveling the tracks ready for the big edit. I may even talk about hardware, you never know your luck.

 **Coming soon in part 3 – coordinated recording**

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