There's a universal rule in this world: If the right thing to do isn't easy to do, you won't do it. That's part of why I fixate on workflow and setup so much... I put a lot of thought into the way things are arranged so I can expend as little effort as possible while doing the work that fulfills me.
Case in point, I did a little streaming experiment this weekend. I wanted to prepare for the Silent Hill 3 episode of Watch Out for Fireballs! by playing SH1, and I also wanted to create a self-contained document for anyone who wanted to know the story of SH1 without playing the game for themselves. Streaming makes a lot of sense for that.
Putting aside my misgivings about performance anxiety... I suck at games, and I have no idea what I should say on mic while I'm playing them... one of the biggest hurdles I face while streaming is the setup process. Arranging things for Duckstream each year is a huge hassle... Moving my computer, setting up a tripod, setting up a mic stand... It's not something I want to do each time I record, and it's definitely not something I want dominating my living room.
Why don't I move my console into my office and plug everything in at my desk? Fuck you. I want to sit in my comfy recliner.
So I spent the last few months arranging things, slowly, to make streaming as easy as possible. And I'm here to share photos and details.
Something you should know about my apartment: The primary spaces in play for gaming are my office (a converted dining room where I keep my recording setup) and my living room (a large room at the front of the house). They conjoin, but there's a lot of distance you'd need to cover if you were laying out cable to connect them. So that's what I did.
Here's what I see when I stream...
And here's the setup from another perspective.
I have my Macbook Pro sitting on a cheapo laptop stand next to my comfy recliner, my preferred perch for playing games. From the Macbook, I can remote view to my Windows PC (which handles all of the streaming) to start or stop the broadcast, and also keep an eye on chat/Slack. This laptop doesn't have anything else to do with the signal chain for getting audio/video out to viewers.
The microphone that I use for commentary is my old Heil PR-40, which I refuse to sell because it's a damn fine microphone. It's attached to a cheapo Onstage mic stand I've owned for about 10 years... it works great becaue its boom can reach over the laptop. Where does the microphone go?
Let's move up to the entertainment center, where I keep all of the cords. I need to nestle all of this stuff into a hiding place, because I hate looking at wires, but this shows you what's up. The mic is plugged into my old M-Audio Fast Track Pro via a very long XLR cable, and this audio interface is plugged into a USB hub. Also plugged into this USB hub: My Elgato Game Capture HD, the box I use to capture console video.
This hub needs to connect to the streaming PC somehow... and so does the network cable that leads to the network switch that powers all of my consoles. So I got my hands on a 50ft USB extender, and a 50ft network cable. Overkill, yeah, but it's better to have too much cable instead of too little.
I assure you, my carpet is a tasteful muted Yoohoo brown, and not orange like this photo makes it look.
Running this cable is a challenge, because I can't really drill any holes. I rent. So I went to Home Depot and bought some flat cable concealer conduit so I could run these two cables (and probably an HDMI cable soon) across the 5 foot wide archway that connects my office and living room. I should probably double-sided tape this down, but it's only a tripping hazard near the edges.
All of these cables run along the wall, and around some furniture so they remain concealed, until they reach my main office desk... under which my Windows PC is housed.
And that's the infrastructure I put into place for streaming. The real acquisitions:
- 50ft Network Cable ($20)
- 50ft USB Cable ($20)
- Flat Floor Conduit ($10).
I had the microphone, USB hub, audio interface, and capture card around from previous ventures. But the upshot is great: Whenever I want to stream now, all I need to do is move the microphone stand into place, put my laptop on the recliner-side laptop stand, and fire things up. It's plug and play, in the best way possible, and it requires next to no fiddling around.
I don't have a great solution for streaming stuff from the desktop, but that's a far less challenging problem to solve than adapting your living space into an easy streaming setup, without having cables and dinguses dominate your everyday waking world.
Let me know if this was helpful. I'll continue to do do streams as time allows... and I appreciate everyone who tuned in to http://twitch.tv/duckfeedtv to help me troubleshoot things. You're the best!