NAB Show, Las Vegas, NV, April 9, 2018 — Dungeons and Dragons is not only an epic wargame – it’s the game that originated fantasy role-playing itself, and still arguably the genre’s flagship. First introduced in 1974 and now a brand of Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons and Dragons has become a mainstream phenomenon that includes themed conventions and online streaming events. One such internet event, held earlier this year and called Stream of Annihilation, represented the largest concentration and assembly of D&D streamers, influencers, Hollywood actors and everybody who likes to play Dungeons & Dragons. And on the technical side, Roland’s (booth SL4707) V-1200HD multi-format video switcher and V-1200HDR control surface played a major role of their own in the event’s production.
The Stream of Annihilation was hosted from The House Studios in Seattle and produced by media production services and event streaming specialists Varvid. The company has a long-term relationship with Wizards of the Coast as a streaming solution provider and also produces Magic: The Gathering’s Pro Tour, an annual series of tournaments held in cities across the globe.
Richard McLean, Creative Director/Producer for Varvid, describes the facilities used for the event: “For this show we had two main studios where the action took place. In our studio A, which is where we built our set, we had anywhere from five to eight people on camera at the same time. We had our talk show area in on our second floor in studio B, where there’s a balcony area, and we ran the jib from A to B in-between our segments.”
The event was streamed on D&D’s Twitch channel, http://twitch.tv/dnd. All the metrics that Twitch provides are a good way to gauge whether people are liking what they’re seeing, as well as handling subscriptions and for interacting using chat during the stream.
“As we started pre-production in this project,” says Varvid Director Craig Kelly, “it became very clear to me that there were going to be a lot of elements coming from left and right, up and down. The technical team here went to NAB and they spoke with the Roland team, and they came back excited to tell me about what they had found.”
“For this show,” continues McLean, “we decided to use the Roland V-1200HD. It was a great choice for this project because there’s a lot of different inputs; it gives us a lot of versatility.”
The Roland V-1200HD Multi-Format Video Switcher is a 2 M/E switcher that features a hybrid processing engine that combines the features of a production switcher with the power, scaling and quality of a presentation switcher all in one frame. Multiple M/E configurations can be selected to meet the needs of a given production. Inputs include 10 3G/HD-SDI and 4 HDMI with 6 3G/HD-SDI Outputs and 2 HDMI outputs. Scalers on HDMI inputs 3 & 4 and HDMI outputs support SD, HD and VESA resolutions. Control is via the V-1200HDR Control Surface or by free downloadable Remote Control Software (RCS). The video inputs and the powerful built-in 16-channel audio mixer can be expanded with XI-Series video and audio expansion cards to add more I/O.
The input capability of the V-1200HD was a boon to the production. Initially, the team expected just to use eight to 10 inputs. But in the end, shared McLean, “we nearly maxed out, using 13 of the 14 inputs that are available without the expansion cards.”
“We had two audio systems going, one for each studio,” Kelly shared. “They sent the audio signal from the floor – studio A and studio B – sent it to us, and it fed directly into the Roland V-1200HD switcher, where it was embedded and then sent out via HDMI or SDI to Twitch or the monitors on the set here, or the recorders.”
“One of the features I like most about the V-1200HD,” said McLean, “is that on the HDMI 3 and 4 inputs I have full control over my picture in terms of scaling, zooming. It came in handy as we’re running our graphics software into the switcher and we had an issue – on the whole left side we had a line of one pixel width that we couldn’t key out. We were able to just crop that out quickly. It wasn’t a nightmare situation like it could have been with some other hardware.”
“The V1200 has two touchscreen menus, and that is incredibly useful,” McLean said. If there’s a menu that I’m referencing quite often, I can keep that open on my left menu, and then on my right menu I can go into other aspects of the menu. It’s like having two monitors on your computer. The menu system is a block diagram menu rather than a traditional text user interface where you’re scrolling up and down. That graphical interface with the block diagram makes it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for, especially when you’re in the middle of a show and you only get a few seconds to find what you need.”
The Roland Professional A/V V-1200HD, Kelly concludes, handles a variety of signals, interfaces with a variety of hardware and formats and its signal path flexibility does “what a technical crew needs it to do.”
To learn more about Varvid, visit https://varvid.com/.
To learn more about Roland Professional A/V products, please visit http://proav.roland.com/.