After 396 videos, creating Natural Selection 2 casts for YouTube does not faze me anymore. There isn't even a tummy tingle. Nothing. The microphone is there, my voice falls into it, the cast goes up, the world keeps turning.
On Saturday, my casting world exploded. The time was set early in the morning: 1630hrs was go-time. At that time, Xsplit would send my voice and my 'stage' into the netherworld for all and sundry to view.
As go-time approached, I realised this was no ordinary cast. If I screwed it up royally, there was no 'stop' button for me to press. There was no way to record it all again. At first, this was a bit scary, but as go-time approached fear gave way to excitement. The tummy tingle was there. Bring it on.
Managing a livecast is a totally different experience to managing a YouTube channel. It is an absolute multitasking extravaganza. In the UWE office, I have two 24" 1920 x 1200 monitors and a 13" 1600 x 900 laptop. That is over six million pixels arrayed in front of my eyes (eat your heart out, iPad 3). Surely a little bit of overkill?
No way. During a livecast, you need every single pixel you can get. Even with those six million pixels, I was struggling to find space to have every livecasting tool at hand. It's not enough to layer windows, because alt-tabbing during a cast takes you away from the action. Just some of the tools necessary were:
- The game itself
- The XSplit stage
- Skype (To bring in co casters)
- Steam chat (To have constant communication with team leaders)
- GChat (To receive server information on the fly)
- Teamspeak (To eavesdrop on team communication)
- The Twitch stream, including chat window (To monitor the stream and reply to viewers)
- Photoshop (To create casting overlays on the fly)
- FRAPS (To record the cast in high quality)
Livecasting is exhilarating in another way - it allows you to push your PC to the limit. My work PC has 12 CPU threads, 1024 GPU cores, 32Gb of RAM, over 10Tb of storage over 10 SSDs and HDDs. Some would call that excessive for a machine that is used mostly for HD video editing. During a cast, this machine sings. It is beautiful.
It is a bit like owning a really fast car. Let's say you hit it big, and own a BMW M5, or an AMG E63. You drive it to work each day, it growls a bit, sometimes you burn an SUV on a freeway on ramp for fun. But it never gets to sing. Then one day, you take it to a race track, and it absolutely comes alive. You bond with it. That is what livecasting is like.
That bond is only a small part of the fun. Working between tools, on the fly, while consistently talking on the microphone, is absolute pleasure. It is a real challenge, and one that I know I will not be able to get enough of.