The other night, I was watching some of the Dice Tower’s videos, and I got to thinking, how would easy would it be for someone get started producing their own videos. There are a lot of things to think about if you want to create high-quality videos as you see on some channels, but if you’re just getting started, you likely don’t have the budget for something like that. What I wanted to dig into is how you can stream board game related material on a budget, especially if you haven't worked with video before.
Streaming board games on a budget is something you can likely do with the equipment you already have such as a cell phone or a computer with a webcam and an internet connection. If you’re looking to do this as inexpensive as possible, just get out your cell phone and start your stream. Several platforms offer live video streaming for free, so there’s not a huge investment needed to get things started.
Good video production isn’t just tied down to having the proper equipment. If that were true, all you’d have to do is borrow a good camera, and you would be set. There are a lot more things that you need to focus on without a significant monetary investment. Your video’s story, your set, and your personality are all things that you can work on before shelling out the cash for the expensive gear. These are things that you'll need to consider whether you’re doing live or recorded content.
Now, let’s get things started.
When I say your story, I’m not talking about your history, your life, or even anything about you, really. That's something the audience will get through small details in your videos. Here, I'm talking about the story of your video. Your video needs to have a story that hooks the reader from the beginning and pulls them through to end. To help your video flow, its useful to put something down in writing and try to be consistent.
Writing it out
Now, I’m not suggesting you write a novel to detail every aspect of what you’ll be putting on video (unless that's your thing, then go for it!). However, you should have something written down to help you unravel your ideas on paper, so you aren’t doing it while you’re recording.
This could be something like a storyboard that you use to describe the flow of the video so you know how things should go. This will also help you avoid losing time in video production doing things that don’t make sense or having to redo shots because you didn’t put it in the right order. This will definitely make your post-production easier.
One thing your audience will look for is consistency. I’m not talking about a consistent posting schedule - though this is important, too. I’m talking about how your story progresses should be consistent. Your audience should be able to watch one of your videos without you in it and know that it is your style. Your audience will expect that, and doing so will help your audience understand what they’re getting when they start one of your videos.
That being said, another critical area to be consistent with is your set.
If you’ve watched any YouTubers, you’ll likely notice that they have a specific set that they use. Your set is a character in the story that will help your audience instantly recognize your content. This is something I’ve come to pay attention to since watching several YouTubers.
One YouTuber whose channel I like to watch is Peter McKinnon’s. He recently moved from working out of his home to working out of an office space, and his audience keeps asking about the old set. People will expect to see you in your regular set, and if you change it on them, they will notice.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use other locations. Think of your set as a way to ground the audience. For instance, consider starting and ending your video from your set to help keep your audience connected.
Setting up your set
Your set doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, it just needs to be recognized as yours. When you’re creating your set, think about what your audience will see and how they’ll use that to recognize your channel.
If you’ve seen any other board game channels - such as the Dice Tower - you’ll notice that they usually have board games in the background, which serves two purposes: It is recognized as their set, and it helps show the topic of the channel. If you have a board game display, that might be a good thing to include in your set.
You should also consider the area around your set, too. Does your set have enough space? Is there an echo from not having enough dampeners in the room? Will you get interrupted frequently by other people walking through your shot, or opening or closing doors? These are all questions you need to consider when setting up your set.
This is something that you may not have considered before, but you need to find your video personality. Will you act like yourself on screen? Will you take on a persona that you use when you're filming yourself? Will you even be in the video?
Just like your set, you are a character in your videos. For some, it is easiest to be yourself, which will help your content feel genuine. But maybe you aren’t comfortable with being yourself on camera. You may find it’s more comfortable to pretend to be someone else when you’re filming to make it easier to be on camera. Whatever your choice, be consistent, at least within a channel.
The Next Step
If you’ve already got your story, your set, and your personality down, what should you do next? There are a few things you can do to up your production value. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive guide, but here are some things to think about:
Of course, video resolution is going to be on this list. Are you going to record in 1080p? 4k? If you aren’t sure what those mean, I plan on writing another video production guide to go over those topics. Basically, resolution numbers represent the number of pixels used to encapsulate your video.
Even phones can record in 4k, though they don’t have the best quality. However, with good lighting, they can produce decent videos. If you want to record in 1080p, most phones do a good job with that resolution. Most webcams can also put out good video quality at 1080p, too.
Audio plays a critical role in the production quality of a video. When you’re recording video, having good audio input will be vital to add value for your audience. If you aren’t already doing so, use an external microphone to record audio instead of using your phone or webcam’s built-in mic.
You should also reduce outside noise by soundproofing - or at least dampening sounds around - your set from outside noise. Sounds that aren’t part of your video can be pretty distracting to the audience, so try to eliminate these as much as possible.
Number of cameras
This one is more for live streams because you can include as many camera angles in pre-recorded videos as you want. At least you can add as many as you have time to produce.
If you’re streaming live, try to use multiple video sources. YouTube allows you to use up to 6 camera angles for live streams, which gives you a lot of options for what to include. If you’re streaming live plays, try including top-down views, close-ups, side profiles, etc. YouTube counts each camera angle as a different event, so you’ll need to have enough computing resources to handle the additional camera angles.
This one plays a huge role in video quality. You need to make sure that there is adequate lighting for your purpose. If you’re doing a playthrough, you’ll need to make sure that the components and the players are adequately lit so that your audience can see them.
You’ll need to make sure that you don’t overexpose or underexpose your video, which means you’ll need to add or reduce light until you have your scene lit correctly. Don’t be afraid to use shadows to add visual interest. There’s something called a negative fill, which captures light to add shadows from a particular angle.
There’s a lot more than you can do to add value for your audience, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
If you’re looking to get into board game streaming, you don’t need to worry about anything else besides just getting started. Once you’re rolling, pay attention to your story, your set, and your personality to create a consistent experience for your audience to keep them coming back for more. Once you’re ready for the next step, try increasing your resolution, use external audio sources, add some camera angles, or create better lighting to add more value for your audience. The most important take away is just to get started, learn from your mistakes, and add value to your production as you can.
What do you think, do you think you can get started with board game streaming? Are you someone who has already started streaming board games? If so, I’d love to hear the story, so please comment below.
As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read my article. If you want to know when we release new content, we'll be creating our email list soon!