Case Study: Bento Studio Uses Blackmagic Design to Produce Collegiate, Professional Rocket League Live Streams
Bento, an Orange County based media and production studio, produces a variety of online broadcasts including esports leagues, album releases, cooking shows, and corporate town halls. Established in 2017, Bento’s production team has 20 years of combined industry experience, including Tomber Su, the studio’s managing director who was recognized as one of Forbes 30 Under 30, and UC San Diego alumni Koji Kameda and Martin Nguyen, Bento’s broadcast director and developer, respectively. As a team of millennials, Bento retains its competitive edge by investing in gear that maximizes production value while minimizing costs. By integrating a full Blackmagic Design workflow, Bento’s productions operate at a quality that compares to a multimillion dollar broadcast studio, all from the comfort of their in house studio.
Bento produces two flagship esports broadcasts for critically acclaimed video game developer, Psyonix: Collegiate Rocket League (CRL), a globally popular North American collegiate esports league, and the B Stream for Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS), a professional esports league.
Bento’s live stream of Collegiate Rocket League is broadcasted on the Rocket League Twitch channel and their live stream of the Rocket League Champion Series is broadcasted separately on Twitch to provide additional coverage of professional league matches.
Both broadcasts have garnered loyal viewership, with Collegiate Rocket League boasting an average of 20,000 concurrent viewers per broadcast, and the side stream of the Rocket League Champion Series reaching 4,000 concurrent viewers in latest streams. Attributing viewership and retention rates to high production value, Bento’s Blackmagic Design workflow continues to play a significant role in the infrastructure of interscholastic competition.
Adapting Quickly to a Remote World
Bento has never been a stranger to the concept of remote broadcasts. Frequently, the team has been consulted to solve unique video conferencing requests from corporate clients. When non essential workplaces were mandated to close at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a unique situation began to emerge for the team. Bento’s remote broadcast capabilities, combined with an in house studio and production team, allowed for broadcast schedules to continue without a perceptible drop in quality.
When broadcasting Collegiate Rocket League, Bento utilized an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K live production switcher. All feeds were pulled in individually through video conferencing, and then Bento used the ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K’s SuperSource to composite a scene with picture in picture (PIP) boxes. Recorded macros were then utilized to swap the box input, size, and location parameters, allowing for the ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K to stinger transition between a multitude of preconfigured layouts from the SuperSource, creating a seamless viewing experience.
“Following our success with Collegiate Rocket League, we were tasked with further production of the Rocket League Championship Series,” explained Kameda. “With increased remote talent and a boost in production requirements across the board, we elected to scale up production value by building a proprietary ingest system relying on Blackmagic Design gear.”
Consisting of an ATEM Constellation 8K live production switcher and a DeckLink Quad 2 capture and playback card purposed for output, the ingest system utilizes SRT protocol encoding to pull up to eight simultaneous audio and video feeds, which are then sent to the ATEM Constellation 8K via SDI. As all 40 inputs on the ATEM Constellation 8K feature frame rate and format conversion, a variety of video standards can be ingested, then switched at 3G 1080p59.94. Bento’s ingest system allows the team to bring in remote feeds from Asia and Europe without suffering signal degradation and latency that other systems and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) platforms can experience.
With two SuperSources in the ATEM Constellation 8K containing a total of eight picture in picture boxes, recorded macros are then used to assign any given ingest feed to any particular picture in picture box.
“This has been beneficial while live streaming the Rocket League Championship Series, as it allows for any permutation of hosts, analysts, and shoutcasters to be routed to air at a moment’s notice, with each SuperSource configuration existing as its own virtual news desk,” commented Kameda.
Additionally, Bento takes full advantage of the ATEM Constellation 8K’s MADI audio output by converting it to network based audio. This allows for embedded audio signals from the ATEM Constellation 8K’s SDI inputs to be individually and physically mixed on actual faders, completing a remote transmission ingest system with high audio and video quality.
Building Out the Blackmagic Design Workflow
Beyond the Director/Technical Director’s ATEM Constellation 8K equipped workstation, Bento’s studio includes workspace for audio, replay, graphics, game administration, video editing, and transmission. Each station is equipped with multiple Micro Converters SDI to HDMI, providing a program and a multiview feed from the ATEM Constellation 8K. Video playback is controlled by the Director/Technical Director with a HyperDeck Studio Mini broadcast deck. Using a media encoder and File Transfer Protocol (FTP), all video assets are encoded directly to the HyperDeck Studio Mini’s SD card and recalled by clip number.
Additionally, Bento’s studio is equipped with two replay machines, one with a single pair of I/O channels via DeckLink 4K Extreme capture card, and another with four bidirectional channels via DeckLink Duo 2 capture and playback card.
“Aside from its inherent flexibility, having four bidirectional channels is exceptionally useful when building replay packages while live streaming esports,” explains Kameda. “Instead of simply clipping a playlist of content already viewed on air, a pivotal moment can be reexperienced from multiple viewing angles, playback speeds, or through on air talent reactions, then piped back to the ATEM Constellation 8K from the same DeckLink Duo 2.”
Lastly, before being sent to transmission, the ATEM Constellation 8K’s main program feed is processed by a Teranex AV standards converter, handling signal reclocking, audio embedding, and lip sync. This results in a single embedded SDI line routed to the stream encoder, using a DeckLink 4K Extreme to ingest the 1080p59.94 signal.
Creating the Perfect Graphics System
Professional CG/graphics systems can be expensive. At times, licensing and gear costs can even outweigh the combined cost of one’s remaining broadcast gear. Instead of breaking the budget, Bento developed their own proprietary graphics system using a CG machine built with three DeckLink 4K Extremes.
Each DeckLink 4K Extreme outputs two signals to the ATEM Constellation 8K: a fill signal containing the actual graphic, and a key signal containing a mask. Using the ATEM Constellation 8K downstream and upstream luma keys, each channel premultiplies its respective key and fill signals, allowing for images or videos containing transparency to be used as lower thirds, graphical overlays, or stinger transitions to be flown over the program feed.
“The DeckLink 4K Extremes work perfectly as output cards,” said Kameda. “Not only do they deliver synchronized key and fill signals, but they also come with analog audio breakout cables, eliminating the need for additional audio de-embedders per CG channel.”
The Future of Live Streaming
“If the last several months have taught content creators anything, it’s that you need to have an agile, capable and intuitive live stream workflow in place for business continuity,” concludes Kameda. “What was a quickly growing market need is now a market must have; maintaining an uninterrupted stream of quality content output is critical. Affordable live streaming products, like the ones we’ve implemented from Blackmagic Design, continue to be an invaluable resource as we navigate the future of content creation to deliver maximum ROI for our clients.”