When People Start Getting Real: IRL Live Streaming
This is the true story, of people playing games on Twitch, & sharing it all live.
When writing this article, I was reminded of the first time I heard the MTV Real World title sequence. That show ushered in the wave unscripted reality television that was recorded and edited for our viewing pleasure. But In Real Life (or IRL) takes this unscripted approach to the next level. These content creators are live streaming their daily lives and adventures for global audiences, any time, from anywhere. Many of these streamers were born out of Twitch, originally creating channels focused on video and tabletop gaming. But when Pokémon GO exploded in 2016 and players like aDrive, started to implement outdoor live streaming to engage with fans as they go on the hunt, the IRL streaming movement was born.
Recently, I spent some time with Justin “TheGunrun” Ignacio, the Broadcast Success Engineer (and second employee) at Twitch and the visionary behind the IRL live streaming revolution, to learn all about how streamers are going beyond games, going outdoors and getting real!
First, you have to tell me, where did the name Gunrun come from?
I’ve been using the “Gunrun” name since I was 13. I made the name up when I was playing Neopets.
Later, my first job was at Justin.tv and things got really confusing since the founder of the company was also named Justin. So, I just told everyone to call me Gunrun and it just stuck.
What is IRL?
So IRL, also known as “In Real Life” is this new crazy, exploding thing on Twitch, which was traditionally a video game platform. It turns out the guys who have been playing games all day want to be able to share their lives too. So “In Real Life” takes Twitch users outside the studio and shows off real-life situations, every day adventures, vacations, and so much more, beyond gaming.
How do you fit in?
As the Broadcast Success Engineer, I am responsible for increasing Twitch users. A key part of that is my focus on researching and deploying technologies for live video broadcasting which help drive more compelling — and better quality — content on Twitch. I’ve been working on this crazy technology, along with LiveU, to give Twitch live streamers “something that they can believe in” when broadcasting for long periods of time and from anywhere they want to go.
As you were building the IRL solution, what did you take into consideration?
When I was first designing a solution, the streamers were telling me ‘I just want to stream from all over Tokyo or China for 12 hours straight. But I want it as simple as using my phone.’ So we needed to look at solutions that were super easy to set up, could stream for extended periods of time, maintain high-quality, and be lightweight and mobile enough for streamers to travel freely. (oh and let’s not forget about making sure the equipment doesn’t overheat!) And that’s what we accomplished with the Gunrun IRL Backpack.
Tell us more about the “Gunrun IRL Backpack”?
The Gunrun IRL Backpack is a combination of various items and creative cable management that allows the user to broadcast a stabilized HD video feed live to the audience in one compact design. This solution has been used with many popular streamers to grow their audiences and provide broadcast experiences that were once impossible at this price range and simplicity(-ish).
The LiveU Solo is the real power of the backpack. It takes HDMI audio/video from the Sony AS300 Camera, power from the battery, and data from 4 LTE modems (I work with Unlimited IRL for data plans, but you can use any carrier/plan) to produce the stream being pushed to Twitch. The MAXOAK 50000MAH Power bank extends the life of the technology so streamers can go longer and the Manfroto Lifestyle NX CSC Backpack holds it all together. Then it’s just cables and cable management.
We’ve outfitted 40+ users with Gunrun IRL backpacks and more than 100 more live streamers have customized live streaming setups based off the original design. The solution pushes the limits of live streaming and enables out-of-the-box content you can’t find anywhere else.
What are some of the things streamers are able to now do with this technology?
Everywhere around the globe, people have been using the backpacks for outdoor live streaming from China to El Salvador, Australia, Europe, of course all over the US and hopefully we’ll even send people to Uganda. We’ve seen IRLers ride helicopters, climb mountains, go into the desert, water ski and even bungee jump while streaming.
One of our partners over from France even took the backpack and streamed on a tube run over at this winter resort. The connection was stable the entire way down and it’s an amazing experience for these guys and their audiences. They had their cell phones out and were able to talk to their chat room people. But it’s not just for extreme content, a couple of our partners in LA gave their backpack to a sushi chef and were able to get a completely unique first-person perspective of the food preparation.
How has your backpack transformed the IRL movement?
The interaction is crazy. That’s one of the best parts of being on Twitch. If you’re on IRL and people see something interesting on that browse page, they’ll just jump in and start talking to you. If you’re a partner, you can monetize easily too. Most of these guys broadcast and make it their full-time job. It’s kind of insane. These streamers are really good entertainers out living their lives and are able to travel to crazy places. This space is growing on Twitch, and we’ll be expanding the ways viewers can discover these channels. And thanks to our partnership with LiveU, the next wave of live content creators will be able to go anywhere their imagination leads them!
Final thoughts, what’s next for IRL?
With so many streamers now on Twitch, we are breaking down the IRL category to make it easier to discover specific types of live video content. It will be more about describing the live stream so we are about to add more than 10 new categories so streamers will be able to specify exactly what type of non-gaming content they are streaming.
Want to know more? Check out this behind the scenes story of how the Twitch Channel, The Kerbal Space Academy, took their educational show outside of the studio with IRL to provide engaging content right from the launch pad!
Claudia Barbiero is an expert at developing strategic marketing, branding and PR campaigns for leading global technology leaders. Currently she writes and presents on topics related to live broadcasting and online streaming for LiveU. She can be found at industry events, entertainment and sports experiences, political happenings and breaking news stories around the globe helping producers of all sizes to share dynamic live content to engage deeply with their audiences, and keep them! Follow Claudia on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also watch live coverage and see what other live streamers are up to by following LiveU on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.