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LondonChessboxing Live

Live Stream Broadcast

Punching above our weight

London Chessboxing approached us in Summer 2019 to produce the live-stream internet broadcasts for their consistently sold-out events, in order to open up their rather niche sport to a wider audience. And boy, has it been one hell of a ride.

The weird and wonderful sport has meanwhile been attracting media attention from the likes of the BBC, ITV, the Guardian, and a whole lot more to boot (or should that be glove?) so we figured we were in good company.

Checkmate or KO

Chessboxing does exactly what it says on the tin, but you still have to have it spelled out to you because you can’t quite believe it.

Touted as “the ultimate test of mind and body” by the Telegraph, Chessboxing’s core mechanic is summed up nicely by GQ: “A chessboard is dumped in the centre of a boxing ring, you play for three minutes, the chessboard is removed, you fight for three minutes. Either you checkmate or you knockout.”

Production value

The reason for our involvement was twofold: increase the production value of London Chessboxing’s live shows in order to (a) draw a larger online audience and grow their fanbase, and (b) entice sports broadcasters to invest in and televise the events.

To this end, we put together a crack team of live-stream specialists to work with Chessboxing to suss out how they wanted to run the show, and then translate these requirements into the necessary equipment and technical setup that would be needed to achieve this.

Overcoming challenges

Filming an event with a live audience in a relatively small venue meant that our main challenge was in finding the best camera angles in the physical space. Each potential angle involved a compromise between three key factors:

• Would this be the best angle for the online audience?

• Would this obstruct the live audience’s view?

• Would this be a safe space for our camera operator?

Best-laid plans

Negotiating these challenges required a lot of planning and rehearsing, from site visits to Skype calls to sketched-out diagrams of the venue covered in lots of indecipherable squiggles. But in all this planning, we had to allow enough leeway for spontaneity on the night from the fighters and performers.

All the toys

Armed with three Sony FS7 cameras, a Canon C300 camera, an assortment of microphones, walkie-talkie headsets, mixing desks, stage scaffolding and a good old-fashioned tool kit, we custom-built a rig that could capture, and react to, the madness that is Chessboxing.

Control room

Our stream director Andrew called the shots, lining up what camera angle of the ring should be broadcast and directing the camera operators via headset; Hamish sat next to him, overlaying the relevant graphics such as the countdown timer and fighter cards, all of which we produced and tested pre-event; and George mixed between a dozen audio feeds to capture each blow as it landed, the ambient cheers of the crowd, and the commentator’s reactions.

Show Producer: Gavin Paterson

Show Director: Tim Woolgar

Floor Manager: Annabel Innes

Assistant Show Producer: Kate Gilbert

Stream Producer: Rory Yeung

Stream Director / Vision Mix Engineer: Andrew Foster

Graphics and Playout Operator: Hamish Mullen

Camera Operators: Jack Ayers and Andy Coulton

Sound Engineer: George Collins

Assistant Sound Engineer: Katie Earl

MC: Gem Carmella

Commentators: Chris Levy and Matt Lunn

Referee: Reinaldo Dominguez

Arbiter: Kanwal Bhatia

Chessboxers: Roger "Cannonball" Baxter, Shayan "Shah" Zarein Dolab, Dan "The Tax Man" Mayfield, Brian "No Slack" Mak, Gerard "Ripper" Reilly, Jon "The Brick" Wood, Cameron "Hurt Locker" Little, David "Northern Powerhouse" Jarmany

Twitch Jockey: Daniel Mayfield

Disc Jockey: Paul Lander

Social Media Exec: Ro Elfberg

Timekeeper: Peter Crowley

Chess Display: Nick Murphy

Stage Supervisor: Will Lyons

Stage Hands: Malvina Rigoni, Will Gray, Jamie Hulme

Venue Manager: Jen Van der Linde

Venue Technician: Dave Billings

Medics: Dave Sage and Katie Greveson

Stills Photographers: Pawel Gawronski and Nicola Irvine