Remote Commentator Guide
Everything you need to know about providing live game commentary via the WFTDA Remote Studio.
The Remote Studio and how it combines a live derby video stream with a scoreboard, remote talent, and broadcast capabilities is explained in exhaustive detail in the Remote Studio Broadcast Planning Guide. The What to Expect and Workflow Overview best illustrate what we’re making and how we accomplish it.
From your perspective:
You’ll connect to a video conference style call using your choice of device. The video return from the call (what appears on your screen) is the output of the video switcher (what the audience sees). That switcher output includes the other announcer(s), graphics, and live gameplay video feed.
You’ll commentate the game based on what you can see on your screen (the gameplay video). Your voice is mixed & synced with the game video then the combined sources are sent to Twitch to stream to the world.
Please check out the Remote Studio playlist on the WFTDA YouTube channel to see how the commentators are presented during these live shows.
WFTDA Volunteer & Talent Information
WFTDA Broadcast is a volunteer-operated wing of the WFTDA and works with the Talent Management Committee to develop best practices and guidelines for announcers. All remote studio talent will be required to sign the WFTDA Volunteer agreement, be in compliance with the WFTDA Code of Conduct, and uphold the Announcer Inclusion Policy.
All talent must complete the WFTDA Volunteer Agreement and Media Release provided by email@example.com
3-Person Talent Assignment
The goal is to book 3 announcers per game for most Remote Studio engagements. We loosely structure the 3-person team the same way we do at WFTDA Broadcast tournaments with 3 roles: play-by-play commentator, color commentator, and producer. Typically this means only 2 people (PbP & color) keep their mics on during gameplay and the producer only chimes in when prompted, during breaks, etc.
There are technical reasons for this as well:
With the delay inherent with remote video, 3 people all talking at once is much worse and 2 people stepping on each other.
If one person cancels due to technical or other issues, we still have 2 people to call the game. The producer can be promoted to a more active role. Better to have a 3rd person waiting in the wings than making someone call a game alone.
People who have never called a game via Remote Studio are typically assigned the 3rd seat/producer role as an opportunity to acclimate to the studio environment. Then we bump you up to PbP/color once you know the ropes.
Your 3-person team can decide who will be serving each role unless specifically assigned by the talent coordinator.
Instructions for connecting to your specific show will be provided prior to show, typically via a calendar invite.
Each guest has an assigned connect code. These are listed in the show documentation. Follow your link to join and enter your name in the box. The webpage will ask for permission to use your Camera & Microphone; please allow it!
If you have any trouble connecting, please contact the show director via email/txt/call; I’ll be on standby for tech support. The best place to get help is the Quad Media Discord: https://discord.gg/WQkDRyMKEC
Testing Prior to Show
Always best to be prepared! If you’d like to test your connection prior to going live, please reach out! The studio is available for scheduled appointments during the week and all day Saturday to assist with setups, answer questions, and rehearse in the show environment.
Technical Guide for Talent
vMix Call is just like connecting to any video call (zoom, skype, facetime, etc).
You will never connect to a live show. The studio director always has control of what appears on screen and will bring you into the broadcast when the time is right. Most shows begin in the virtual green room where we can talk and prep without going live to the world.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Phone, tablet, or computer with webcam (apple*/android/windows, doesn't matter)
wired internet connection or very strong WiFi signal
earbuds/headphones/airpods - to put sound directly in ear, please don’t use device built-in speakers if you can avoid it. This is to avoid feedback and audio ducking.
Microphone if possible (the one in the earbuds/airpods/headset is fine)
A comfortable place to sit & talk on camera for duration of show (2 hours); well lit, quiet, no distractions
light source should be in front of you, not behind
elevate the camera, looking straight on (eye level) looks better than chin-tucking
expect to connect to the call 20-30 minutes prior to the show start time and remain connected for the duration of the show (even if not currently on screen/talking): 2 hour commitment max, live ~90 minutes.
We will take brief breaks and you can always excuse yourself if something comes up
*iOS users must be on iOS 11 or newer and open the vMix call link in Safari browser. info
In show you’ll see the Gameplay and the other participants on the call at the discretion of the show director. You’ll see and hear what the audience sees/hears in the final product (minus your own voice).
The call interface has a menu (bottom of the window) with controls to:
Turn off camera (leave this green)
Mute (leave this green unless you need to mute yourself)
Turn mirror (local camera) on/off - turn this off if you don’t need to see yourself
Turn chat window on/off - turn this off, we don’t use this chat. Communication is through Discord.
Stuff to Monitor
We’re doing our best to replace the in-venue experience with technology. That means lots of windows open on your computer to replace all the things we might have communicated in person.
Things for you to see:
vMix Call - your connection to the Remote Studio and how you watch the game
Discord - our backchannel for communicating everything about the show
Twitch Chat - popped out from the stream page (you only need to see chat, not the video)
Scoreboard penalty tracking feed - more views available; see everything the NSO’s are tracking
Promotional Reads - all the sponsor shout-outs and thank-you’s
All of these work on both computers and mobile devices. Due to the limitations of mobile apps, though, it’s difficult to operate or monitor more than one of these at a time. For our announcer talent it is highly recommended that you use a computer to have a large game window and more visible windows open. Calling play-by-play on a tiny phone screen will be extremely challenging. You can use any combination of mobile devices and computers you see fit.
Extra Commentator Info
You can connect to the remote studio with just about any smartphone, tablet, or computer. HOWEVER: due to the nature of calling a game, you’ll want to use the largest screen you have available. The device you connect to the studio with is also your view of the game. We recommend using a desktop or laptop computer with as large a screen as you have to view the live gameplay and make accurate game calls.
Any modern computer capable of video conferencing is capable of connecting to the studio. Google Chrome and Firefox web browsers are most compatible/supported by vMix Call. Safari on OSX may work but may encounter problems.
If your only option is a mobile device: you can connect with Chrome on Android. iOS users please read the special details in the connect instructions.
Q: Can I watch the Twitch stream on my smart TV and provide play-by-play commentary from that?
A: No. The Twitch feed is several seconds behind the studio so your commentary will be out of sync with the game and your co-announcer. The only way to provide in-sync commentary as if you’re really in the room with the game is to view the live gameplay through the Remote Studio connection.
Device built-in speakers and microphone are strictly not allowed for Remote Studio game broadcasting. These cause too many show-impacting feedback, ducking, and noise pollution problems.
Headphones, earbuds, or a headset that puts the return audio directly into your ear are an absolute requirement for Remote Studio talent. We let this slide in non-live-gameplay shows, but for live game coverage this is non-optional. The quality of audio is too negatively impacted if you allow the sound from the game to be projected into your room.
Microphone should be as high quality and narrow pick up as you have access to. Built-in devices tend to pick up all the noise around you (family, dogs, honking horns, sirens).
Any headset (mic + headphone in one) designed for video conferencing or gaming that’s compatible with your connecting device should suffice. These are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Happy to help you find one that fits your situation.
The earbud+mic combo that comes with most smartphones will work… but the microphone tends to be really bad and creates a bunch of noise as it drags across your shirt. We can make it work, but it won’t be great.
High end wireless earbuds like AirPods tend to have really good noise reducing, narrow range microphones and work fine in the studio. CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES TO FULL PRIOR TO SHOW!
Any webcam can work. What really makes the difference is positioning and lighting. Keep the camera at roughly eye level and arm’s length away. Put lights behind the camera so that they illuminate your face. Think about the background behind you; make it interesting if you like!
Here’s a decent, quick example: https://youtu.be/rQwanxQmFnc (you can find lots more vids on youtube of how to look good on Zoom)
Your webcam feed will likely be cropped and modified to fit the broadcast look. Most announcer view layouts are square; if your webcam is widescreen (16:9), expect the edges of the video to be cropped.
Please don’t send vertical video. If you’re connecting with a phone or tablet, operate it in landscape mode only.