From the Ospreys Rugby Union team, to the Football Association of Wales, as well as national cycling, swimming and boxing coverage, Port Talbot based Buffoon Film and Media has been heavily involved in putting Welsh sports on the world stage.
Focusing mainly on platforms including Facebook Live and YouTube, the team has already live streamed to more than two million people around the globe - a number that is increasing all the time. “All of the sports we work with are really excited about live streaming,” says Adam Amor, founder of Buffoon. “Especially the ones that don’t traditionally get much terrestrial broadcast coverage.
“Not only does it give governing bodies a chance to develop a platform for their sport, but with more and more consumers frequently watching on smartphones and tablets, it allows them to reach much larger audiences directly, very quickly.”
Whilst the popularity of live video content is growing dramatically, it does come with some challenges. Adam explains, “Having a decent upload speed is always one of the biggest challenges we face. Viewers have come to expect a certain level of quality, especially from the sports they see regularly on television. They want to watch in the highest resolution possible, without any lag or dropped frames.
“Being able to deliver a reliable, low latency live stream at a decent bitrate requires a professional video workflow,” continues Adam. “Which is the main reason we chose to invest in a live production setup built around Blackmagic Design.”
As the backbone of Buffoon’s workflow, an ATEM Television Studio Pro HD is used to produce the final PGM; this is then encoded and streamed using Wirecast Pro. “The ATEM is invaluable,” notes Adam. “It’s both a control panel and a switcher in one, so we can easily vision mix sources and add effects at the touch of a button, all live and in real time. We can also, simultaneously, manage the incoming camera signals; things like iris adjustments and colour correction. This way our operators can simply focus on filming.”
Paired with B4 optics, the Buffoon team use a mix of Blackmagic Studio Camera 4Ks and Micro Studio Camera 4Ks for acquisition, relying on MTF B4 2/3” to Super16 PL adaptors to mount the lenses.
“With our previous camera solution, we had to use radios for communication, which unfortunately meant we suffered with distorted audio, crackling and echo,” Adam continues. “We are now able to fully take advantage of the ATEM’s built in talkback, sending clean, clear dialogue to and from the Blackmagic cameras via SDI in real time.”
Delivering engaging live content for so many sports is a feat in itself; each stream has to be different depending on budget and preferences. Managing this ever-changing program, the Buffoon team utilise the ATEM’s two downstream keyers and built-in Photoshop plugin for presenter led segments, commentary, instant replays, sports graphics overlays (such as scoreboards, timer substitutions, yellow/red cards) and social media feeds. “Thanks to this, our overall production quality has significantly improved,” Adam attests.
For Ospreys’ rugby matches, and other stadium based sports, the Buffoon team streams from the gantry. “However we are always looking to expand, evolve and be able to offer new features to clients,” says Adam. “And we have recently bought a new wireless transmitter/receiver so that we can have additional cameras at pitch level for future streams.
“It’s thanks to Blackmagic Design’s broadcast quality and attractive price points, that it’s more easily achievable than ever to deliver such high quality content,” he concludes. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing just how many more people we can reach across the world with our live streams.”