The culture of competitive gaming is filled with early adopters and cutting edge hardware — and the people behind the way we view the competition are no exception. The guys at GotFrag have been at the forefront of covering the professional PC and console circuits, providing news and live event video coverage since 2002, and we got them to dish a bit on how they use the A40 Audio System in conjunction with their production.
The guys behind GotFrag TV use ASTRO gear not only for gaming, but also for a communication system that their tech crew uses at live events. The production team is lead by Scott Smith, who serves as the Vice President of Broadcasting. He kindly took a moment to explain the incredibly creative way that he has deployed the ASTRO A40 Audio System in a behind-the-scenes look at how GotFrag TV operates.
Smith’s team includes people in charge of video, like in-game camera operators and real-life camera operators, and the producers who direct what the viewers are seeing. His entire crew can talk to each other in real time with no lag using the A40 Audio System. That’s correct — every person on the team has an A40 MixAmp somewhere nearby with an A40 Headset plugged into it!
Smith explains: “We use a big headphone amp in the production area that sends exactly the audio feed that needs to be sent out to each crew member’s MixAmp (and feed this into the ‘Game’ audio). This feed is called our ‘program out’ and is a mix of the audio that the viewers will hear, like the game sound, effects, and commentary — but in real-time as it’s happening. Everyone gets this feed through the A40 MixAmp, so for example, if we are showing a World of Warcraft Arena match with Fnatic ORZ and the commentators are talking about Hafu, the cameramen naturally know to pan to her.
“Of course, we also take advantage of the great voice communication capabilities of the A40 MixAmp”, Smith continued. Voice communication is done through the standard voice comm function of the Daisy Chain connector. Of course, the production team has to use longer cables than what comes standard in the box, but it works the same way. For really long runs, a converter that enables the audio signal to travel on standard CAT 5 cable is used. The voice communication channel rides on CAT 5 to all of the camera people so that the tech table guys (Mark ‘jESUIT’ Cheben, Jason ‘Alchemist’ Baker, and Smith himself) can be in constant communication with the camera people. Scott can even split the voice channel output and speak to just the live commentators by toggling the channel with a special switch. This way, the entire production team is always on the daisy chain in real time voice communication — just like when players are in a game.
“The great thing about the MixAmp that not many people know about is that it also acts as a condenser”, Smith explains. “This means that you can’t scream and blow the next guy out when you scream into it — the MixAmp compresses the signal volume automatically.”
“We couldn’t have put anything together remotely as efficient and high quality as what ASTRO offers — and we definitely couldn’t have achieved this for less than $5,000. More importantly, I’m wearing these headsets for 12 hours at a time during an on-location GotFrag TV production. I wear glasses, and this is the most comfortable headset I’ve ever worn. It just works.”
We’d like to thank Scott and the entire production crew for stoking our competitive fires and giving us an eagle-eyed view of the MLG Pro Circuit!