How a British university club live streamed archery for $10

Images courtesy University of Warwick Archery Club.

The BUTTS Challenge League was introduced by the University of Birmingham’s archery club in 1995 and now incorporates competitors from nine universities from across the middle of the UK. Comprising multiple tournaments, the league’s finale – the BUTTS indoor championships – was hosted by Warwick in 2017.

“We wanted to capitalise on the introduction of a head-to-head format, which came in for the 2015 tournament,” said publicity officer Sarah Allaway.

“Two members of the club put forward the idea of live streaming the matches as a way of both promoting the club and the league, while showcasing student archery.”

With little budget but a wealth of enthusiasm, David Richardson and Alex Logan set about finding an appropriate technical solution.

Logitec webcams were found for angles showing the front and back of the competitors – while the targets proved more challenging. Instead of cabling the 18m to the targets, a DSLR camera with a large telephoto zoom (Canon EOS 70D with Sigma 300mm lens) was placed nearer the shooting line and connected to an HDMI capture card into the computer that would mix the footage.

A Blue Yeti microphone fed commentary, and Warwick’s own Chris Guerin, with Alex, manned the gaming computer, running VMix – a professional quality camera mixing software available online – which even incorporated basic television graphics, before sending the stream onto the net.

Thanks to the generosity of club members lending gear, the total cost of the equipment came down to a roll of duct tape used to stick wires down – a whole £7 (around $10).

“We had a 30-minute window after the ranking round to set up the equipment before the head-to-heads began. Our test event took one hour, so it was a big ask – and although we overran by a few minutes, thanks to an uncooperative cable, it wasn’t catastrophic,” said Richardson.

“Once set up, the live stream went out without a hitch and hit a total view count of around 3000.”

The footage is now available on Warwick University Archery Club’s YouTube channel – and there are some pretty decent matches, including a nail-biter between Warwick’s Sherman Ip and Birmingham’s Francis Berti, demonstrating the level of Britain’s university teams.

“David and Alex are looking to the future of the head-to-head live stream, with plans to develop the system further, including upgrading the target cameras, instant replays and on-screen timing,” added Allaway.

World Archery offers support to national federations looking to develop their video production capabilities.

The Asia Cup stage in Bangkok in March was the first event to be broadcast using World Archery Asia’s brand-new video equipment and run by a crew of volunteers from Thailand, Singapore and Chinese Taipei. The television graphics used, which were developed by World Archery for Hyundai Archery World Cup and World Archery Championship events, are based on the open source CasparCG and Ianseo systems and available to member federations.

World Archery’s YouTube channel and the Olympic Channel are the online destinations for free-to-watch archery content.

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