Shoutcasting – A Beginner’s Guide
What is shoutcasting?
Shoutcasting is the term used to describe the process of commentating on the events of a game in real time – just like a sports commentator – and breaking down the gameplay that occurs with insightful analysis and knowledgeable explanations. In Vainglory, there are a few important areas to track as a shoutcaster:
1) The draft process and strategy
2) The plays that take place during the game
3) The builds of each player
4) The mini-map and positions of players
These areas are covered by four different roles of shoutcasting which will be explained in detail in the next segment.
The roles of shoutcasting
There are four primary roles in shoutcasting regardless of the game: the play-by-play caster, the color caster, the desk analyst and the cameraman. Each role is crucial for a smooth broadcast of a tournament.
Play-by-play Caster (Play-by-play):
This is the most famous and well known role in shoutcasting and requires quite a bit of stamina and sharp eyes to execute properly. The responsibilities of a play-by-play caster are to not only call out abilities and kills during teamfights but also in the lack of a dedicated host, either they or their co-caster needs to introduce the tournament, its organizers and other casters at the start of the tournament – then sign off appropriately at the end of the tournament. Now you may ask why would someone need keen eyes and high stamina? Hearing a play-by-play is no fun if they don’t have emotion in their words. Bringing in heightening energy in any play requires emotion in their words. For example: Humanist, a North American play-by-play caster, prefers to speak faster during teamfights and raise his pitch during intense moments within the teamfights, which ends up making the audience more excited as well. Keen eyes are also important because calling out abilities and kills accurately within a teamfight where the hero models are basically overlapping often becomes quite confusing. There is no shortcut for accurate observation.
The second-most commonly heard term of shoutcasting is the color caster. The person performing this role is often heard immediately after a teamfight and is the one who analyzes the build paths, itemization, power spike advantages and win conditions. Just like a play-by-play caster, the color caster needs to keep an eye out for each ability cast and every item used. They should also be aware of the positioning of every player and analyze the win conditions of each draft. Since Vainglory is such a dynamic game, conditions decided in the early game are not always consistent with the conditions in the mid or late game, and the color caster should also note this. For example, in patch 2.2, Ringo and Vox were among the top few laners. Ringo usually had an advantage in the early game but as the game progressed to the mid-late game, Vox would get the advantage over Ringo with proper itemization and positioning.
The purpose of a desk analyst is to review the current meta in each of the three roles in Vainglory, and the favorites of each player within a series. They should also discuss possible strategies that the teams have been using in the past tournaments and are thus likely to use in the upcoming matches. There are several websites that keep track of all the information regarding the heroes and players (like vgpro and vgminer) from which the analyst can find a clearer view of preferences and performances of each player in their solo queue adventures and other non-competitive play. Personally keeping track of competitive play developments and draft strategies of each team is also a key task of the desk analyst. As an analyst, predicting picks and bans and breaking down these choices for the audience is essential as it not only helps the viewers to understand the players’ thoughts, but also helps give ideas to the viewers about how to set up a winning draft. SuiJeneris, currently the COO and co-owner of GankStars and the former coach for Immortals, is a perfect example of a desk analyst. He tracks the performance of each player in a series and across all tournaments, and then places a prediction on a range of heroes for pick/ban and usually gets them right (among shoutcasters, there’s a running joke of SuiJeneris being the best ‘Weatherman’ because of his extremely accurate predictions). After the draft is completed, a desk analyst needs to discuss the upcoming matchup, previewing the likely play-styles, discussing potential strategies and analysing the win conditions of each team.
The cameraman, as the name suggests, controls one of the most important parts of any streamed tournament. While not strictly a shoutcaster, they are a key part of the broadcasting team, and other casters may occasionally act as the cameraman while shoutcasting. As the cameraman of a tournament, one must not only follow the players on the fold but also predict where the next teamfight is going to occur, placing the camera where it can capture all the action. A good way to predict the next teamfight is to keep track of regions around the minimap where there is a greater player concentration and zoom out ever so slightly to fit the players in the screen. A cameraman must also follow the play-by-play caster and the color caster to allow the viewers to understand what they are talking about. A key rule that every cameraman must follow is that they must minimize rapid camera pans, as they cause confusion and a loss of focus from the primary (i.e. the person/objective/area-in-context). Instead, a smooth pan across regions gives the viewers the time to notice all that is taking place in the area with context, and gives the cameraman themself some time to predict the location of the next play or follow the next topic of the announcer and analyst. On some occasions, the cameraman is also the streamer, and is responsible for smooth transitioning between different screens within the stream. Using online streaming programs like OBS, they must properly time their scene transitioning according to their other casters’ words and maintain a proper network connection at all times to minimize issues in the stream.
How to maximize synchronization between roles?
Shoutcasting would get quite monotonous if the casters only performed their own jobs and nothing else in each game, like a car going through different steps in an automated car-wash. To make the event livelier, all shoutcasters need to engage in a conversation and keep it going for as long as possible, also minimizing silence in the streams. Here’s a few things to talk about during the slow moments of the game:
- At the start of a game, the caster hosting can introduce their co-casters and engage in a dialogue about the different players and their history with their allies and opponents.
- During the draft stage, the desk analysts can also discuss recent meta changes or updates to inform the viewers.
- After drafts, analysts can talk about their personal opinions regarding who would win that game of the series.
- While the game plays out, the color and play-by-play casters should generally engage in constant conversation, trying to minimize periods of silence. One way is for the play-by-play to ask questions to the color caster about builds and win-conditions. Another way is to narrate the aggression in early-mid-late game, i.e. whether it is passive or aggressive with invades, or to speak about a specific player’s performance.
- The best way to minimize interruption between the color-caster and play-by-play caster is to reduce run-offs. This means clearly ending your sentences as a color caster, and avoiding nonstop dialogue by keeping your sentences a reasonable length, which gives time for play-by-play casters to jump in if they recognize a teamfight developing.
- In a situation where a teamfight erupts in the middle of the color caster’s analysis, they must end their sentence as soon as possible to allow the play-by-play caster to perform their task.
- As soon as the teamfight/play ends, the play-by-play caster should then ask questions about what just occurred, so that the color caster can perform their role in describing those situations.
Of course, this is not a complete and final guide on what you should do as a caster. There are a lot of things that casters can talk about and make the tournament enjoyable for the viewers. Every shoutcaster is unique in his or her own way: be it energy, predictions, wordplay, or humor. Maximising the qualities you have personally will help you stand out among the crowd of shoutcasters. It takes experience to become a good shoutcaster, and that can also come with playing more or watching how professionals cast tournaments. Practice makes perfect, everyone mistakes in their call-outs, analysis, and camera panning and it is human nature to do so. Working on such mistakes and trying to minimize them is what allows a new shoutcaster to develop into a seasoned one.
Written by MrRox1337 and edited by DarkSquall & hoIIand