SVG Returns to In-Person Events With Industry-Unifying Esports Production Forum in L.A.
How the pandemic has changed industry operations was a primary focus
On Tuesday, the Sports Video Group held its first in-person event in 616 days. The Esports Production Summit at the Sheraton Universal In Los Angeles drew more than 200 attendees and reunited the esports-production community in a face-to-face gathering for the first time in two years.
The full day of panels, keynotes, and case studies delved deep into the next-gen workflows deployed by today’s top esports tournament producers, publishers, and platforms. The event, which required proof of vaccination and masks in the main ballroom, was spearheaded by the SVG Esports Production Advisory Committee and co-chaired by a pair of industry stalwarts: EA Group Head of Content and Programming Joseph Lynch and ESL Gaming Senior Global Manager, Procurement/Executive Producer, Special Events, Simon Eicher.
“Two years ago when we were in this room together, if you had told us we were going to have to do what we did the last 18 months, we would have said you were nuts,” said Lynch during his welcoming remarks. “But, when the whole world stopped, we dug in and the whole [broadcasting] industry looked to the people in this room to figure out how we were going to do production. The people in this room figured it out because that’s what we do. That’s what esports is. Esports is about figuring things out and getting the job done.
“I’ve been working in this business a long time,” he continued. “In 25 years in entertainment, sports, and news, never have I seen competitors get together to solve a problem as a group. It was really impressive. It’s what this community is all about. It’s what esports is all about. I am very excited to be here and excited to be here with you all.”
Over the past year and a half, the esports-production industry has undergone a historic transformation as a result of the pandemic. Although esports organizations were largely ahead of the curve when it came to cloud- and remote-production technologies, the pandemic fast-tracked the technological roadmaps and brought the technologies to the forefront. Tuesday’s event showcased these trailblazing efforts and provided a preview of what’s ahead for the industry.
The SVG Esports Production Summit kicked off with an inside look at Riot Games’ historic 2021 League of Legends World Championship production, which recently concluded in Iceland. Riot Games Director, Esports Creative, Carrie Dunn and Executive Producer, Global LoL Esports and Wild Rift Esports Events, Nick Troop explained how their respective teams pulled off the monumental live broadcast in the face of unprecedented challenges, including a last-minute move from China to Iceland.
Next up was a “state-of-the-industry” report on the latest live-production tech and workflows by esports broadcast leaders: EA’s Lynch; Matt Arden, head of content and media, NBA 2K League; Matt Donovan, broadcast engineering and technology manager, Riot Games; Andrew Lane, director, broadcast and production, FACEIT; David Light, broadcast engineer, solutions, Activision Blizzard Esports.
Eicher then remotely provided a behind-the-scenes look at ESL Gaming’s EMEA production hub in Katowice, Poland, one of the largest and most sophisticated esports-production facilities in Europe.
The “Return of LAN Events & Live Venues” panel offered a look at how the live-production industry is confronting a “new normal,” blending the remote workflows deployed during the pandemic with traditional onsite production methods. On the panel were TJ Canty Jr., director, events and operations, NBA 2K League; Andrew Lane, director, broadcast and production, FACEIT; Amber Luther, planner, senior associate, Populous; Heather Rosenfeldt, VP, business operations, ESL Gaming America; and Ryan Thompson, co-founder/chief production officer, Esports Engine.
After an outdoor lunch, the most integral piece of the esports storytelling ecosystem took the stage: the observer team. Virtual in-game camera operators, observers are responsible for constructing a coherent narrative out of the ballistic, expansive action taking place within the game. Moderated by Do Not Peek Entertainment co-founder/Managing Director Jason Baker and featuring Royce Dickerson, executive producer, EA, the panel comprised Phil Englert, business development manager, esports, Ross Video; Heather “sapphiRe” Garozzo, CS:GO/VALORANT observer/VP, talent, Dignitas; James Grieve, Battle Royale observer/director; and Xavier LaTorre, lead observer, Call of Duty League, Blizzard Entertainment.
The on-stage program closed with a panel examining the future of cloud and remote productions and asking the question “What Technologies Will Stick From the COVID Era?.” Moderated by The Switch VP, Gaming, Charles Conroy, the panel comprised Michael Bergeron, senior category owner, production systems and advanced technology, Panasonic; Ryan Cole, senior director, broadcast technology, Cosm (formerly with Activision Blizzard Esports); Robert Erickson, strategic account manager, sports and venues, Grass Valley; Brian Gramo, head of Virtualis Studios, Super League Gaming; and Peter Wharton, director, corporate strategy, TAG V.S.
The 2021 SVG Esports Production Summit was made possible by Title Sponsor Ross Video; Diamond Sponsors Grass Valley, Net Insight, Panasonic, TAG Video Systems, and The Switch; Gold Sponsors Blackmagic Design, Calrec, Canon, Evertz, Riedel, RTS, Sony, and TSL Products; and Event Sponsors Disguise, G&D, Lawo, PRG, RCN Business, Signiant, and Silverspoon.