Esports has grown from a niche pastime to a billion-dollar industry, drawing more attention from broadcasters, advertisers and fans and raising the stakes for the entire gaming experience. According to Hi-Rez Studios Lead Broadcast Engineer, Dylen Roberts, “Having the right communications system is a big part of that.” Hi-Rez, a leading Atlanta based game developer and esports event production company, is relying on Clear-Com®’s HelixNet® Digital Network Partyline, LQ® Series of IP Interfaces and the Agent-IC® Mobile App to facilitate efficient, higher-quality communications among its teams and technical crews.
The company hosts multi-player gaming tournaments enabling the events to be broadcast on gaming and online platforms such as Twitch, Steam, Facebook and YouTube. They have a robust and demanding schedule with an average of up to six league tournaments per week all varying in size, scope, and communications needs. “We’re on anywhere from five to six days a week, with broadcasts lasting up to eight hours at a time, and we’re only continuing to grow,” said Roberts. “We definitely needed to get a handle on our comms capabilities.”
A typical production crew for a Hi-Rez gaming event may include several producers, a director, a technical director, playback and graphics operators, stage screen operators, lighting and administrative teams. With HelixNet, all parties can talk and listen to other channels as needed, as well as converse point-to-point with team members, with the option to turn different audio streams on and off as needed throughout the event production.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” he said. “It’s great not having to route 15 different things through multiple sources. For example, our audio operator can mix audio through the program feed without having to change headsets. Our production crews can talk to the talent without having to run a different IP system. All the different functions are easy to use and everything coming through the systems is clean and has almost no latency.”
With the onset of COVID, Hi-Rez was required to move all their operations online, creating a need for remote production capabilities in addition to their wireless HelixNet matrix. Roberts has continued to add to the HelixNet system as different needs arise. “That's where the modular design of these systems really comes into play,” he said. “As we grow and face unanticipated hurdles, the system is scalable and easy to change and expand.”
To address their new remote communications needs, Roberts opted to add multiple LQ units. These systems extend the capabilities and intercom channels of the HelixNet system by interfacing with remote personnel who have downloaded the Agent-IC mobile app onto their smartphone, tablet or wearable device. Agent-IC connects to LQ over 3G, 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi networks and provides users with a fully functional intercom client that can monitor the HelixNet system and receive IFB feeds.
As the esports industry accelerates and expands, Roberts and Hi-Rez Studios are confident the Clear-Com systems will keep pace and grow with them, continuing to deliver increased quality, clarity, speed and a more streamlined production workflow. “Our comms system has been a real game-changer, and I can rest easy knowing that it can rise to the challenge of whatever we need,” he concludes.