The following casting FAQ is brought to you by MANkind viewer SrRaven, with assistance from both CNN caster Chatia and the MAN himself. Good work guys — hope this helps some of ya!
How do I cast on Justin.tv?
Have you been wondering how MAN casts his games on a daily basis? Are you trying to cast some games of your own?
Well, to cast games you’re gonna need equipment, and if you want to be as professional as possible, it’s gonna cost you some dough. The hardware and software will go into the hundreds of dollars, but your cast can look as awesome as MAN’s!
As you can see, it offers two options of input. From left to right: Component (via Adapter) and HDMI.
Now you might be wondering: Why are there twice the amount of component cables on that adapter and two HDMI’s? The Blackmagic Intensity Pro offers pass through, which is quite important for casting games.
What does pass through do? As the name suggests, it passes the video and audio directly through the capture card, then out again. This makes you, the caster, able to watch what is being casted in real time. You just plug one set of cables into the Intensity Pro and the second pair of cables directly into the TV. This works for HDMI and for component.
An alternative to the Blackmagic Intensity Pro is the Hauppauge Colossus (which I use) or much cheaper alternatives such as Dazzle. The cheaper cards do NOT support pass through for the most part, so you will not be able to watch what you are casting real time, and thus there will be lag. The only way to avoid the lag with the Dazzle is to use Y-Adapters to split the cables.
You can basically buy any webcam you want, as most will suffice. The PS3 Eye Camera is quite good if you have that laying around, but any other webcam will also work. MAN uses the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema, which allows for some nice picture.
Obviously you don’t want people to just stare at your sexy body, you want people to hear you too. You can use the webcam’s audio, but this can result in feedback from the TV which is never desirable. If you want to go the cheap route, you can get a cheap microphone and earplugs or headphones. You should use the TV’s audio output for your audio, and the microphone should obviously go into your PC. If you don’t want to do audio mixing, you are going to need to use a casting program such as Xsplit, which mixes the audio for you. MAN uses Wirecast, and uses an external audio mixer to mix his sound. The audio mixer he uses is a Behringer Xenyx 802. How to setup the audio mixer is too complicated for this post, and should be looked up separately.
MAN uses Wirecast, professional software for streaming. If you can afford the $400 to pay for the software, go ahead and do so. The chroma key in Wirecast is superior, as well as giving more audio control (MAN is able to switch his audio sources).
However, there is a free alternative. Xsplit is free in its current beta stage and MAN himself has said that if it would have been out when he started, he would have used it. Other popular casters use it too and it basicly offers everything you can imagine. It offers overlays for logos and you can easily switch between streams. It’s also quite easy to just add a webcam feed like MAN does to show you being awesome.
UPDATE (June 1st, 2011) — As Xsplit exits its public beta stage, the service itself will no longer remain free. Current beta members can pick up the program for $40/2 years, and new members coming in will have to spend $70/year for the service. Take this into account when making a decision on what software to use for casting.
Q: But MAN uses his game as background! HOW does he do that?
A: MAN uses a green screen, like you see on the news for the weather and similar fun stuff.
Q: But the screen is green! How can that be made invisible?
A: There’s a simple answer to that: Chroma Key. Compositing is the process in which you basically replace the color of the background (in most cases green) with the image of your desire—may it be a lovely beach view or in our case, the game itself.
How? For Xsplit:
First, you just need to put your webcam on top of the sources list. The game should be the second source and be in full size. Next, chroma key your green screen. This can be done by right clicking your webcam, going to the color tab, and ticking the chroma key box. It will let you point at the color that you want to remove (green in our case). This should make your green screen invisible and make the game appear to be your Background.
The setup for Wirecast is similar, but it is more complex software, and as most new casters will not spend $400 to get it, I will only cover Xsplit here.
Of course there are still many things you probably have questions about casting…
Q: What is the best resolution to stream?
A: This needs to be discovered on a person to person basis. Check what your PC and your internet can handle and fiddle around with a friend or fellow caster to find the optimal settings.
Q: How do I become as good as MAN at casting?
A: Be someone! Don’t just try and copy someone else, develop a personality (if you don’t have one yet), and have some kind of standards. Try and cast on a regular basis to build a viewership. Look back at MAN’s old casts on this website, and you’ll see that even HE was a nub at one point! Also, watch great casters, as you will pick up subtle things they do that you can adapt to your own cast to make you a better host.
Q: I have more questions. Who do I ask?
A: Ask in MAN’s chat! There are quite a few people on there with knowledge that can help you if you are being nice about it. MANkind always helps their fellow members!
Thanks again to MvG viewer SrRaven and CNN Caster Chatia for the great work done on this article! Hopefully this will help some up and coming casters get on their way to great JTV success!