Hey guys, my name is Adam and I was basically the main sound guy for most of the tournament, I wanted to take some time to address the audio issues and since some people mentioned them in this thread I thought I'd do it here, I’ll put the bulk of it as a spoiler and then wrap up at the end.
I guess I'll get the elephant in the room out of the way first and talk about the robot/smorc voices problem, I think I'll remember that for the rest of my career in sound honestly. What kind of confused us was the sound was totally fine out of the mixing desk, it was lucky that I decided to monitor the sound out of the PA system that I even noticed it happened because Jon who was listening through the talkback didn't notice it at all. Once we'd realised that it wasn't a hardware issue and something related to vMix we worked to try and figure out what it was, originally we thought it might have been the CPU so we checked task manager and it was indeed running on max so we turned off Multicorder which would have allowed us to record video footage from the inputs that weren't showed on stream (to catch War jumping up or Getawhale on the couch reacting to something etc.) which is a shame to have lost that, that didn't fix the issue immediately so we determined the only way to apply the fix was to restart the stream so we had to endure the issue for the rest of the current match, however it also happened on the sunday where we weren't even using multicorder so something else had to be the issue. The only thing we can pin it down to is we opened up discord on the production PC both times it happened to send some data to Weatherman Nuze, if I was to guess what the issue was I would say it was either a sample rate issue, the stream was running at 48kHz and it's possible discord wanted to force the PC to run differently, or a driver issue with the M-Audio interface we were using's drivers and Windows 10. I've had similar issues before which I believe was due to a mix of these problems, where the audio would just slowly dropping in pitch
I was also using an M-Audio interface with Windows 10 back then so I wouldn't be surprised if these issues are linked, the problem also started when I was using a program which required me to change the sample rate. Anyway, ever since we stopped using discord on that machine the issue stopped.
The second main audio issue was background noise, unfortunately it doesn't seem like this will go away until Multiplay finally understand and give us a location without a Nintendo stand constantly blaring out right next to the production area. The main stage didn't really help either as most of the time we were battling with them while they were running events on it, however they also decided to blast out music inbetween segments and even decided to broadcast an entire movie during our casts! For now there are measures we can take that we will absolutely try and work on implementing (some more aggressive than others such as noise gates etc. which I wouldn't want to do in a live setting) but it'll never go away completely imo, especially since we added things such as the crowd mic for the Saturday, which we unfortunately had to give back on the Sunday, though it was used for the grand finals, and I'll talk about that a little later.
We had to battle with mixing because the stream and the PA were using the exact same mix, with a little more time to set up we could've worked out a way to separate them with what we had, will be fixed for LAN I promise! However it led to things like the game audio being low during the grand finals because it was too loud according to stream viewers etc. Eventually we found a happy medium and I could leave the audio mixed how it was for the rest of the match. I understand sometimes casters/analysts were quiet compared to others, everybody has different voices and some are naturally quieter than others, plus as events like these go on voices become weaker and weaker and sometimes it’s not so much a volume issue but a clarity one, this all meant we had to constantly battle with which voices were going to be loud compared to others, a cool way to have fixed this was to implement the mixer that we were using’s digital features and save level presets for each individual caster pairing so we know.
vMix gave us some other issues separate from the pitch issue, sometimes vMix would randomly stop outputting audio and we'd have to reset the audio source to get it to work, the times the audio was randomly muted when it shouldn't have been were mostly down to that issue. The audio sync issue was also apparently due to how vMix encodes SDI inputs, I'm sure one of the video guys could explain more about that, we could have taken Multiplay's approach by delaying the audio a tad but that can cause some issues too, which I'll get onto next, also it would have been out of my hands as I was mainly working on the hardware side of the audio.
Finally the stage, I spoke about the echo earlier and oh boy was there a problem during the final, we kept the same production area for the final which meant we had to feed them our audio for the stage PA system and they had to feed us their audio from Getawhale's microphone and the crowd mic, they refused to feed us the crowd mic unless we could ensure it wouldn't be fed back to them which would have required setting up a separate mix just for the stage PA but then let the crowd audio feed to the stream bla bla bla, and we found this out during the match too so it was way to short notice to set up, eventually they agreed to give us the crowd audio after the match when all that was being outputted to stream was the audio from the main stage any way so we could mute all of our audio.
Apart from those there were the obvious shaky moments that happen at LAN specifically, being the only audio guy on duty for the majority of the weekend meant it was possible to be distracted by a question/complaint from another crew member and missing an audio cue (thanks to WAR for shouting at me from the audience that one time), also for some reason (probably because of how different the couch lineup was for the final day with Getawhale doing stage host duty for most of the day and Eerily and Turbo filling in, and whatever happened to make WAR’s interview with Funs and Hildreth on one couch etc.) the microphones for the couch analysis got mixed up therefore when I was transitioning to what I thought would be Mic 1 and 2, it turned out to be 2 and 3, etc.
- Discord was apparently the culprit for the pitch issues, the reason it took so long to fix them both times was because it required a stream restart and we didn’t want to do it during the match
- Background noise was an issue throughout the weekend mostly because of having the main stage about a 100 meters away from us almost always playing music/holding an event or even showing a movie at very high volume, coupled with the fact we had a Nintendo stand about 10 meters away from our production area doing the same.
- We didn’t make it easy on ourselves when it came to mixing audio levels because we had the exact same mix outputting to the crowd PA system and the stream. Will be fixed in the future.
- vMix dropped our audio inputs randomly at times and we’d have to re-enable them, I believe we’re looking into possible alternatives that will work better with the hardware we have available.
- The Grand Finals were hosted on the stage which had their own audio team, because of this some things we wanted to do wasn’t possible, I also saw someone mention the very end of the game being underwhelming compared to previous LANs, this was the main reason.
- Human error was obviously a factor and all of us in the team are always working hard to improve.