Clan Warfare

Clan Warfare is one of the signature events of St Andrews Freshers’ Week. In a normal year hundreds of students from every residence would don their hall’s t-shirt, get slathered in face paint and walk to StAge, chanting their respective songs along the way. Crammed into StAge and 601 with drinks flowing, each of the hall reps would be given challenges to complete with their hall members, like getting the most phone numbers written on them or collecting as much as possible for charity. Each residence would fight to be crowned the best hall at the end of the night. This year, however, with the pandemic, we had to find a different way. While nothing quite compares to standing in StAge with lights flashing and challenges taking place around you, we wanted to try and capture the fundamentals - halls competing, doing stupid challenges and fighting to be the best. This stage of the planning is mostly completed by the Director of Events and Services, Tom Groves, with input from the hall officials and anyone else straying close enough to be asked a question. Ents Crew are brought in when the plans are in place and the tech needs designed.

So, now to see behind the scenes on the Ents side of things. This event was staffed by three volunteers from Ents Committee: Ryan Delaney (Convenor), Sam Lane (Training Representative) and Andrew Barron (Venues & Tech Representative). Collectively, Sam and Andrew have worked nearly every livestreamed event the Union has done so far, with Andrew taking the lead most of the time. Our general setup for these style of events is a simple Teams call, sent into OBS Project and then sent to wherever we're streaming! Clan Warfare had a few more steps, so to make things slightly easier, we've drawn this all up into a nice flowchart. Don’t worry, we'll break it down in a second!


Let’s go into each of the content boxes and explain how it works.

This is what you were interacting with! When each team submitted a response via the Microsoft Team, it got placed into SharePoint. These responses were grabbed by the Sabbs who look through and pick out the best results and award the points. The list of teams and their points was then sent to us Ents, and we updated the Team Database. We then put the photos and videos into Resolume, which is where we run our graphics content, and this was how we showed you the featured answers.

A screenshot of Resolume during testing of the event

Resolume was also used to show the current challenge, which was composited onto an animated backdrop. It was controlled using a Launchpad MIDI Controller and some custom software, NodeJS OSC Trigger.

This software contained a list of all challenges and allowed us to update Resolume instantly with the challenge and round number in one go. It also sent a trigger to the second piece of software, NodeJS Leaderboards and Timer, to start countdown for that challenge. The timer was overlayed on the stream within OBS. This meant with a press of a button, the system would update with a new challenge, updated round number, optional bonus challenge, and countdown timer.

In the actual event, the updates didn’t happen perfectly. There are a wide number of reasons why this could’ve happened, from bugs in the software to networking problems when sending the OSC packets, or something going wrong in Resolume. This is why a couple of the challenges didn't update straight away or the timers were briefly incorrect. When we noticed this, we manually intervened to update the system (usually just re-sending the update worked).

Audio content primarily concerns handling the DJs. We wanted the DJs to come through with the highest audio quality possible. Previously when running events, we have simply taken the audio from a Teams call. However, because Teams is designed to be used for meetings and conversations, it manages all audio sources like microphones, automatically adjusting them to make them sound better during conversations and remove background noise. When playing music this is not what we want - Teams starts to adjust the music like it’s a person talking, adjusting the levels and trying to remove background noise, which ruins the audio quality. To overcome this, we used a service called Cleanfeed. Cleanfeed sends much higher-quality audio streams which we then routed into OBS so you could hear it.

Here's where the rest of the content you see comes in. The Sabbs, who presented the event, were all in a Microsoft Teams meeting. Using Teams’ NDI output feature, we could take each call participant’s video as a separate feed. This then allows us to lay out the call participants however we please in OBS - in pairs, in groups, or one person at a time.

The DJs were also on this call, but muted since we were already receiving their audio via Cleanfeed. The DJs used a solid colour virtual backdrop in Teams, which we removed in OBS so we could overlay their video feed on graphics from Resolume.

The final mixed video from OBS was sent to Twitch, which is where you could watch the stream at home.

For anyone attending the event, you might have noticed towards the end that there was a short interruption where the stream disconnected. This happened due to the computer broadcasting the stream running out of compute resources and failing to keep up with processing the video output. During the event, we didn't realise that the machine was not receiving power properly and was steadily losing battery. The operating system then attempted to slow down processes using a lot of power - in this case, OBS - to make the machine last longer. We restarted the machine, verified it was receiving power properly again, and got the stream back up and working as designed.

Clan Warfare gave us lots of interesting challenges, both in the preparation stage and as we fixed issues which came up during the event. It was a great experience and we’ve learned a lot to apply to our future events, so we can broadcast even higher-quality and more reliable streams in future.

If you’d like to learn more, get hands-on experience with our equipment, and help us make events happen in the Students’ Association, join us for free! You don’t need any experience, and we’ll give you all the training you need.

  • ents/breakdowns/clanwarfare.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/12/29 16:41
  • by shlugo