top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureMichael "Rydarus" Zhang

Now that the holidays are over and I've had some time to sit down and process everything, I wanted to write a little blog post sharing some insight to go along with my commentary stream today and just talk about what went into making this crazy project. I realized I wanted to write this because it would be very difficult to convey the full contribution of everyone that worked on it on stream. It's not always obvious externally who did what, and each person deserves the spotlight in their own way.


While I've worked with very small groups of people in the past, working on the Overwatch League this year made me realize I really REALLY like working on a team. It's nice not to have to do everything, especially things that I know other people are way better at. Being able to delegate and focus purely on the skills that you want to refine and develop allows you to stay focused on the big picture view, instead of getting bogged down on the minutiae.


I also wanted a more diverse crew than I felt was typical in esports from my personal experience thus far. I additionally wanted to make sure everyone got paid, which also from my experience, is atypical on Tier 2 / Contenders teams. In most ways, I feel we succeeded at that, but there's always room to grow (and pay people way... way more...)



VOICEOVER


LEGDAY and LemonKiwi I've known for a while now in Contenders, and they helped me a LOT when I was starting out. After I left Contenders for OWL, I missed working with them (as well as with the other Contenders casters), and I wanted a bespoke voiceover in the intro.

LemonKiwi and LEGDAY on Contenders

After I wrote a basic script, the voiceline recording process was one of the first things we did in mid September, and probably took an hour or so to get the lines in (we did a LOT of takes to get as many options as possible).


I'm always consistently impressed at how "technical" shoutcasters are with their voices. If you ever work with actors on screen, they're almost always very nebulous and almost pseudoscientific in comparison.


Everything relies on living in the moment for the on screen actor, and you kind of have to coddle them / get in their heads more. I think that's probably why famous film / television actors are so annoying when they do voice acting, but maybe that's just my opinion.


In contrast, every caster I know kind of treats their voice like a musical instrument that can be precisely manipulated. It's honestly super refreshing to see people like LEGDAY and Lemon have such a dominance over their craft that doesn't really have an analog in many other fields.


GRAPHICS


MoMoBitez was the first person I brought on in this entire process. I really liked her graphic for the last edit I did, Overwatch League - Gangsta's Paradise and I wanted a spiritual successor to that.

Gangsta's Paradise Thumbnail by MoMoBitez

For Overwatch League - Coda, after we found out who won the 2021 season, I wanted to highlight the Fleta Echo skin and inject it with more Shanghai branding.

TEASER TRAILER Thumbnail by MoMoBitez

MoMo also made a Black and White variant for the Teaser Trailer, so we'd have more continuity with the Overwatch League - Gangsta's Paradise thumbnail. I liked the idea of keeping the graphics related to anything before the OWL2021 season was over in black and white, in order to emphasize the lack of a current victor.



Overwatch League - Coda Thumbnail by MoMoBitez

Caolo OWL trophy render

Caolo refused to be paid cause I worked for free for him on SusanooGG (fair enough I guess) and I needed a render of the Overwatch League trophy. He had already made a video with one that I liked the minimalism of a LOT, so we basically took that render, re-rendered it, and brought it in. It looks fucking great.

Announcement Graphic from Yyuio's template

Yyuio made me a "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" themed title template for this season. Since then I've been obsessed with it and have used it for everything in 2021. As this would be the last time I use it, I wanted to change the color to a bright red as a homage to the final season of Clone Wars. I got a TON of mileage from this graphic and he was kind enough to share the project file to other designers as we iterated on it and incorporated it into other graphics.


All the designers I worked with I would readily vouch for in whatever esports path they choose in the future. Each one was instrumental in their own way.


POST PRODUCTION CREW


Laura Markus was someone I brought on relatively early as a Post Production Assistant / Assistant Media Logger. What was most important to me, was having someone that understood the game and storylines and would instinctively know which voicelines were important / good for the edit. Live logging is a skill that's very difficult to do well, but due to the benefit of hindsight, it was more important to me to get someone who was passionate and cared in order to get me the best parts of the broadcast.

Example Playoffs Media Log by Laura Markus & Michael "Rydarus" Zhang

Previously, I would always do this entirely myself for my personal content. However, I realized after I finished building the first iteration of our OWL CODA media log that the workflow going from the media log to editing was clunky, especially for the length of the film. This would exhaust the usable footage SIGNIFICANTLY, because unlike most things I make where I have a 200-300 entry media log for a one to two-minute frag movie, Coda was five minutes, and certain story / music beats required extremely specific clips and voice lines.


Laura timestamped and edited the majority of my 500 entry media log with the highest priority moments of the entire playoffs, with timecode linked to vods stored on FrameIO. A typical example of this would be, if I knew Sideshow says "All the work is worth it if you reach your potential" was at the break in between Map 1 and Map 2 of Washington Justice vs Dallas Fuel, instead of going into the VOD, and finding the timestamp in Premiere in an H.264 VOD that plays at one frame an hour, Laura would pull the timestamp for me, and all I'd have to do is copy paste it and I'd have the desired voiceline.


If I did this all myself, the time it would've taken to make this project probably would've doubled or tripled, especially since I have to manually clean up each and every caster voice line of background music, background game sound, and mix it relative to the music and sound effects.


Additionally, she had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the Shanghai Dragons IRL footage available on YouTube, which would be invaluable to me in finding the right IRL shots to construct the ending of the film. I could give her the most obtuse request and she'd find me something that'd work.

Logging isn't the most glamorous or really noticeable job to the average person, but it is HYPER critical for the kind of editing and videos that I make. In fact, it's so critical that I generally prefer to do it myself where possible. Laura let me stress less about the logs and focus more on capturing and editing, which was a godsend that allowed me to get the edit done in time for Christmas, and I don't think I could've done it better myself.


Janggwaberry was our Assistant Producer. They came on at the end of October, and though they might say they didn't do a lot, they actually deadlifted me low key. For one, they helped me a lot with managing the different departments. At the time they joined, I was right in the thick of capture, and making sure that GFX and Post had direction and clear deadlines was instrumental towards the entire project being finished.


I originally brought them on to help me manage music licensing, which was especially helpful when we had to re-upload a week before Christmas (the release date) due to an encoding error / among other things. This meant we had to re-license every track, which was a pain in the ass, though thankfully we didn't have to pay again.


Janggwa also helped me a lot with social media copywriting and just scheduling all the posts. My twitter account and YouTube is fucking tiny, and the only way we managed to get the viewership and engagement we did on Twitter & YouTube was because of the crew figuring out the post schedule and workshopping every word.


TRANSLATION

Translation was also a big thing I wanted to accomplish on Coda. A big thing I always felt as a fan of OWL is that I wanted to see more of the foreign content the Chinese and Korean OWL broadcasts made be localized into English, and vice versa. It's relatively cheap to do so and just flat out adds value to everyone involved.

Here's a newspaper! Because reading! Ha? No? Okay...

I didn't know Charles Tang before he worked on Coda as our Chinese Translator. But a big thing for me was getting translators that I wouldn't have to micromanage / teach game terminology. Not only was he already a fan of the game, but he was nice, enthusiastic, and finished everything quickly and gave valuable notes during the creative process. Plus he came with glowing recommendations from friends in the community.


Hannah Cho, our Korean translator, I knew already from working on OWL, and the nice part is that she already knew Premiere, so unlike most translators where I'd have to input subtitles into Premiere myself, Hannah just did it for me. This was good, because I get to be lazy, and that's REALLY good, because I had a lot of other stuff to do and limited time.


A rare regret I have about Coda is that I wish we could've done more than just translation. In an ideal world where I would be doing Coda for the Overwatch League proper instead of as an independent project, I would've wanted to make localized versions with native Korean / Chinese audio using the casters from the Chinese / Korean broadcasts.


However, I quickly realized that such a project would be unfeasible without way more resources. It would've tripled our music budget since we would've needed to license each track 3+ times (meaning our music budget probably would've been like $800). Additionally, many of the sources of voice lines I used were atypical, just scoured from the years of Overwatch League broadcasts and frankensteined into this weirdly coherent narrative, that would be nigh impossible without me having spent years watching the Korean / Chinese streams. Or at least, without some VERY detailed logs.


It also probably would've quadrupled the time I spent sound mixing, so, there's that. Sigh.


AUDIO


JAY and FaxTechnician acted as audio consultants. Technician basically helped me build the flow of the music edit, which was super instrumental early on when I was planning the entire film, and he gave major notes during the ideation and early editing phases.


Once the film became picture locked and the focus shifted to minute changes / audio cleanup, JAY stepped in to help me a lot. I knew JAY from Contenders, and he's Monkey Bubble's resident Production God-King Warlord. I mean he basically wore every hat on NA + EU Contenders in 2021, including MY HATS when I went to OWL.

My timeline. The face of pain.

For Coda, JAY did our Teaser Trailer's music edit. Additionally, he helped me mix and kill frequency gremlins in individual audio clips all the way down til the day the final film needed to be uploaded to YouTube the week before Christmas. No other person that worked on Coda (besides me) knows each little annoying squeak and bonk and creak we had to remove from the audio besides JAY.


SPECIAL THANKS


Besides the people mentioned in the main credits slide, there were many contributors to Coda that were extremely kind in lending footage to a small community project.


The Shanghai Dragons, Dallas Fuel, and Washington Justice sent in a wealth of footage that made editing the IRL segments way easier, and led to a significantly higher quality. Thank you to Mel, Lindsey, Jake, & Nicole, y'all are the real ones.

Footage courtesy of the Shanghai Dragons

Additionally, Sideshow gave us permission to use Plat Chat segments / content from his personal YouTube, which in my opinion gave us almost the entire heart of the video, especially that final line at the very end of Coda. That line, for those curious comes from the first Homestand Vlog Sideshow did in 2020. That video still gives me intense nostalgia for what could've been, and I hope one day soon we return to having live Overwatch events once more.


Finally, one music company wanted to charge me $1000 for a one minute music cue, but thankfully, Rok Nardin is a SUPER nice guy and let me license one of his tracks for $50, which was a godsend. We didn't change that music track until I think... October... which was a pain in the ass, but thankfully Rok saved us and without him we would've never been able to make the Christmas release date.


So that's it! If you made it this far, you're crazy, but thank you. I have another (smaller) project I'm working on that will come out some time in the next two weeks about the Overwatch animated shorts, so stay tuned...


ALSO by the way!




46 views0 comments
bottom of page