Replays: some software solutions

You see them in almost all regular sports broadcasts. The slow-motion movement of that incredible goal that someone makes and because esports mimics, for better or worse, aspects of regular sports broadcast you will see them also popping up there. The first time I ever was involved with replays we did it the hacky way by recording the feed in Adobe Premiere (old version) and then playing it out straight away after so it looked like the effect of doing something fancy on stream. This was also before OBS had any replay functionality, Twitch didn’t exist yet and the encoder software of choice was Adobe Media Flash Encoder. If memory served me right the guys that hired me later switched over to MX Light to do basically the same as with Premiere Pro (but then a bit neater).

In this post, I will go over some of the tools I am familiar with, but remember that all roads lead to Rome (well sort of). Its downsides, its upsides, a rough indication of price, etc. Not every solution will be a perfect fit for every production, some will require some getting use to or even are shit on the face of it, and sometimes the expensive solution will not always be the best solution. I only mention solutions that have some kind of an instant feel to it, but experiences will differ. Playing out highlight packages is, in my opinion, a different story that you can do many different ways.

OBS

If your whole production is already based around OBS then you already have the functionality to do instant replays with some plugins and scripts. One of the better tutorials you can find I linked below and it seems like a great solution for the smaller tournament streams that are popping up like crazy the last couple of months. Having the free options to do some instant replays seems tempting doesn’t it.

MX Light

I mentioned this one earlier and yes it still exists. No clue how stable it is and how useful it would be in production nowadays, but if you have the hardware lying around the 55 pounds is not that much to spend on some replay functionality. Many people and/or companies have the Blackmagic Design H264 recorder lying around so maybe worth playing with it.

More info on MX Light: http://mxlight.co.uk/

vMix

We use this a lot within productions and it has it up- and downsides. The biggest upside is that it is software-based what is handy if you have equipment all over the world, but you only need it at one location at a time. Other benefits are:

  • It can handle 4 inputs
  • You can run it on a regular PC build and don’t need proprietary hardware but have many functionalities that more expensive companies have. In my book this often a plus as then you can tailor and upgrade however you want. The downside of it is that you sometimes need to go through a trial and error period if the hardware is not doing the desired thing. Of course, you need to decide what kind of capture you want to do to make your build.
  • Many surfaces that work with it so the operator can pick and choose what they like the best. In the productions I work on, the most used is the X-Keys XK-68 Jog & Shuttle, but also tried the Skaarhoj XC8 and many other midi devices.

Especially with vMix 24 coming up you see more and more companies eyeballing this solution. vMix 24 can do replays up to 240fps and should be able to handle 8 inputs instead of the 4 that is in the current stable version. You can find the preview build HERE and a little clip when I quickly tested it with Rocket League on 120fps with a playback speed of 25%.

You will need the pro version of vMix to have the replay functionality that, at this point, goes for 1200 dollars.

More info on vMix: https://www.vmix.com/products/

StatsHelix Highlight Wizard

You have seen this one used in DreamHack productions. The StatsHelix Highlight Wizard runs on their servers and uses the CSGO gamestate to create clips of kills and other moments in the game. The video explains it all. While you cannot just buy the software I just wanted to point out that there are replay solutions that solely focus on esports.

More info and contact: https://www.statshelix.com/

Dedicated Hardware

Then we come to the big boys. Hardware replays. I personally always have mixed feelings about most of the hardware solutions for replays. Yes, it is expensive, but with the price, it usually comes with good support if something breaks or if you request small features. The downside for some of the hardware solution is the lack of easy upgradability. You are bound to what it is capable of and in contrary to software solutions you can’t just swap out the PC to make use of new features or upping the performance.

Something to say?!