Esports facilities and venues have been popping up left, right, and centre in the past few years, whether to serve as the home of an organisation like 100 Thieves or to be an esports hub like with Esports Stadium Arlington.
While both scenarios allow for content creation on a high level, the broadcast and production capabilities of a purpose-built esports venue can’t be understated. One person who knows plenty about broadcasting in esports is none other than Cameron Reed, Business Development Manager for Esports at Ross Video.
Reed, who has a comprehensive and impressive history in esports production as detailed below, will also play a part in ESI Digital Summer – the biggest esports business conference to date. We chatted with Reed to get his thoughts on the development of facilities on a global basis, his esports experience, and the upcoming conference.
Esports Insider: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Ross Video!
Cameron Reed: I started my career in esports production back in 2012 at a company called NASL, North American Starleague, as a Production Assistant: the guy who prints things for the producers and generally just does every little task he’s told to. Back then, we were just a bunch of gamers trying to bring this dream of broadcasting competitive video games to life. The industry grew quickly, and I grew quickly with it, landing my first directing gig for Blizzcon Opening Week 2014.
From there, I went on to produce and direct many of the largest esports events in the world, including IEMs, ESL Ones, and The Madden NFL Championships on ESPN2 and the NFL Network among many, many others. In fact, I directed more than 180 episodes for various esports leagues and one-off events in 2016 alone!
I joined the Ross Video team as their Esports Business Development Manager in 2019. Ross is just as excited about this emerging market vertical as I am, and they’ve asked me to help them grow this new business for them. We’ve had a number of successes on both the manufacturing side and the production services side including the Clash Royale World Finals in partnership with OGN, the HyperX Esports Arena, ESL/Turtle Entertainment and more. We’re very excited to see what the future holds!
ESI: During our final day (facing North America), you’ll be moderating the discussion on ‘Esports 3.0 – The emergence of esports facilities worldwide.’ What are your thoughts on the growing number of esports facilities?
CR: It’s very exciting! For one thing, it will be incredibly helpful for all the production companies who have been focused on esports for some time now. When I was directing, I can’t tell you the number of headaches we used to have in pre-production because the venues simply weren’t designed to do what we needed to do. Now that these venues are being built up with the right tech and infrastructure from the start, it should save many a broadcast engineer lots of time and effort.
Furthermore, it just shows the growth and outside-interest in what we’ve been building as an industry, which certainly gives some validation to what many of us esports guys and gals have dedicated our careers to. When I started my job at NASL, I don’t think that I would have believed any of this would be taking place in such a short time.
ESI: Ross Video has carried out a large amount of work with venues big and small within esports, how have the company and yourself propelled this?
CR: At Ross, we really want to bring that “Wow moment” to life in big, exciting ways. Some of the traditional tech that was installed at many of the facilities we were using early in my esports career made that really difficult. We would roll in with our own broadcast kit (with big production switchers, replay servers, graphics renders, etc.), but the Front of House Venue kit, that is the tech driving the screens for the live audience, was mostly “high-end AV” gear, which didn’t really have the horsepower we wanted. Also, it was very difficult back then to collaborate much between the broadcast and the screens, so anything we did had to be manually coordinated. That made many of those early esports events, frankly, more entertaining from home than from in-venue.
The Ross Esports Solution solves these challenges by bringing both the Front of House Screens and the Broadcast production together into a Unified Workflow. Now coordination between screens and broadcast is just a single button push away, and all driven by professional broadcast production equipment, with all the horsepower needed to pull off any look or effect a producer could imagine.
We can bring in Game API data to highlight any stat imaginable and even automate production elements like lighting, music and pyro based on these data streams, so the production elements are timed perfectly to events happening in the game. This eliminates the need to bring in expensive OB vans or flypacks that take time and money to set up on-site because the venues already come equipped with everything you need.
ESI: You’ll also be moderating a session on ‘The fragmentation challenge and esports broadcast rights in the Middle East’. How important do you think this region will be for esports in the future?
CR: The Middle East seems to be ready to explode. There’s been just as much interest from the youth in that region as in any other, and I think it’s been a really underserved market to this point. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
ESI: What are you most looking forward to at the event?
CR: It’s always great to reconnect with everybody who’s also been in esports for a while, but I especially love seeing the new faces. It shows me that we really have captured lightning in a bottle with esports, something that was once a hobby and is now a profession! I hope some of them will become just as passionate as my colleagues and I have been, and that we can continue to grow together.
For more information or to secure your tickets, head here!