- Tyler "Ninja" Blevins is the most popular professional video game player in the world, streaming "Fortnite: Battle Royale" for millions of followers every day.
- Portland based creative agency Roundhouse recently partnered with Ninja's sponsor, Red Bull, to redesign his home streaming studio, outfitting it with almost R290,000 worth of new equipment and custom features.
- Red Bull documented the process and their new video reveals how Roundhouse transformed Ninja's basement into a full-fledged command centre.
- Business Insider spoke with Roundhouse Creative Director Robert Medkeff about designing the state-of-the-art studio.
In the era of YouTube and Twitch, professional video gamers rely on home studio setups to broadcast their gameplay to the millions of viewers around the world. Most home studios have humble beginnings, in a basement or in a kitchen. But if a streamer becomes successful, they soon need a set-up capable of an increasingly high level of production to serve a growing audience.
The world's most popular gamer, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, has nearly 20 million subscribers on YouTube and became the first Twitch streamer to reach 10 million followers earlier this year. Ninja spends about 12 hours a day playing live on Twitch from his basement studio and has brought home as much as $500,000 (about 7.2 million) over a month through subscription fees and donations. His meteoric rise to the top of the video game world with "Fortnite: Battle Royale" has earned him a number of valuable opportunities, including commercials with Samsung, an ESPN the Magazine cover story, and an ongoing sponsorship from Red Bull.
Red Bull recently partnered with Portland-based creative agency Roundhouse to help Ninja redesign his home streaming setup, his primary base of operations. Roundhouse Creative Director Robert Medkeff flew to meet Ninja in Chicago where they discussed how to upgrade the studio and maintain his personal flair. The agency has worked on major gaming-related projects with Red Bull and Twitch in the past, but designing a state-of-the-art studio brought forth a new set of challenges. Roundhouse presented Ninja with a number of potential plans for the studio; once the gamer chose his favourite, they began fleshing the design out with the best possible technology and lighting options.
"His new studio needed to inspire creativity and support multiple types of content, and stand out as the first gaming studio of its kind," Medkeff told Business Insider in an interview.
While most of Ninja's streams consist of him playing at his desk, the new studio encompasses the full basement room. The space was given a custom acoustic treatment and has been fully outfitted with controllable, colour changing LED lighting. Once wall includes eight different monitors for Ninja to host graphics or playback video from his dedicated video server. Another portion of the room has a dedicated analyst desk in place for when Ninja hosts friends or steps away from the action for a bit. Four different Blackmagic Design URSA 4K 60 fps broadcast cameras in the room are able to see the action from every angle while a mixture of Electrovoice and Shure broadcast microphones capture audio.
Red Bull declined to share the budget for the studio design, but the equipment alone is worth more than $20,000 (R290,000). The goal of the studio is to be a one-stop shop for any type of gaming broadcast and everything in the room can be controlled from a digital switch board on Ninja's desk. Despite the big time studio upgrades, Ninja will still be using the same custom built NZXT computer and the free Open Broadcaster Software to stream.
Roundhouse also worked to ensure that Ninja's personality was preserved within the studio. Medkeff said the partnership between Ninja and Red Bull was balanced and stress-free. The room was designed with Ninja's personal branding in mind, but the space isn't dominated by sponsor logos.
Dozens of his personal trinkets line the room, including trophies, Funko POP figures, a "Fortnite" pickaxe, and a signed Detroit Lions football helmet. Medkeff said the look of the trophy wall will evolve as Ninja adds more personal effects. Roundhouse filled the studio with a fair share of secret features too, for example, Ninja's dogs have access to a small Murphy bed that pops out of one of the studio's walls.
"I don't want to give away too many things, because there are a lot of nice little hidden things that Ninja will reveal when he streams," Medkeff said.
While playing "Fortnite: Battle Royale" alongside superstar artists like Drake and Travis Scott and winning major tournaments has helped Ninja gain a celebrity profile during the last year, he began competitive gaming with "Halo 3" in 2009. In August, Business Insider spoke with his wife and manager, Jessica Blevins, about how they have handled his skyrocketing career.
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