Clear-Com Keeps Esports Factory Operations in Check
The seats are filled with spectators passionately cheering for their favorite teams while the action is displayed on giant screens above by wireless camera crews roaming throughout the arena.
The Super Bowl? The World Cup? No, it’s another type of competition just as heated and intense. It’s esports and in this case, the venue is the new Esports Factory in Osnabrück, Germany. Often hosting multi-player tournaments supported by production crews of up to 15 people, the recently retrofitted facility needed to create the right competitive atmosphere with tight communications capabilities to execute successful events. They chose Clear-Com solutions including Encore Analog Partyline Intercom, the Agent-IC mobile app, LQ Series IP Interfaces – all for the control room to stage communications during events and for remote productions.
Think esports is just video games? Many analysts value the industry at $1 billion, with most reports estimating it will far surpass that total in the near future due to rapid growth in spectators and sponsorships. That’s why the decision to open the Esports Factory, the first of its kind in Germany, made sense to Maze GmbH, the facility’s owner.
“We are unique in Europe,” said Moritz Esche, Technical Director of maze GmbH. “Our goal was to close the gap between having nothing to serve this exploding market and the huge stadiums in which some esports tournaments are held.”
The previously existing facility was completely gutted and renovated, and now houses an esports Bootcamp training facility, an esports academy and the production environment where the tournaments are staged, with seating for up to 200 spectators. The facility also hosts viewing events for remote productions.
“We built a cozy but premium location for medium-sized esports events where visitors have a unique experience by being so close to the action,” Esche said. “It’s also a technologically up-to-date space capable of handling all the needs of modern broadcast production.”
One of those needs is communications. With 96 possible camera inputs, nine km of SDI cables and 40 computers needed to produce an esports tournament, “There is a lot that can go wrong and it’s very easy for something to simply not work as intended,” Esche said. “Communication is the key to successful events here. We need to stay in touch with each other, while still giving our production teams room for creativity.”
The production teams’ requirements specified an intercom system with enough capacity for crews to move freely around the facility capturing event footage, with the added capability of “segmenting” the traffic so each person only communicates with the part of the crew they need to cover their job.
“Well before the opening of the Esports Factory, it was clear a professional intercom solution was indispensable for handling live broadcasts of the events,” said Jan Saueressig of Audio-Technica, Clear-Com’s distributor in Germany. “With different event formats and varying communication requirements, a flexible, IP-based solution was key. They needed intercom stations that could reconfigure and change form factors quickly and easily, from small systems with just a few required channels to large systems for users with more complex communication requirements.”
The LQ interface enables mixed operation of analog partyline, analog 4-wire audio and Agent-IC stations with only one base unit. The extensive routing options within the system allow a flexible reaction to new production conditions at any time and the scalability of the LQ network guarantees a future-proof investment in case of future expansions.
Initially, the system connection was made through the existing in-house network. Now, the system can be accessed via the 3G and 4G data connection of the end devices from any point in the world, which considerably simplifies work at external production sites.
“With the Agent-IC app in combination with our LQ system,” Esche said, “we are seamlessly able to achieve all our requirements. We’ve even started using Agent-IC for our external productions. The production team simply connects to the LQ box, which is still installed at our main location, via the data connection of their mobile phones.”
Like the esports industry, the Factory expects to grow and keep pace with its audience; the Clear-Com systems installed are designed for that type of flexible scalability, simply by adding more LQ frames. “They can easily extend LQ into a network of six total so there’s a lot of room for growth with the system,” Saueressig said. “The new frames become part of their network. It’s designed for modular scalability and it was the perfect starter system for them.”
With the venue up and running for a few months now, Esche and his team are confident they’re able to handle anything a demanding fan base could throw their way.