With just 5 days to go, it’s time to delve a little deeper into some of the other more technical areas of how the show works. There are lots of other shows and podcasts out there that do things far more efficiently that is done at TigerTails Radio, but as the show is made from years of equipment building off equipment, I figured it was time to explain just how some of it works. This episode will concentrate on the PCs used.
There are 3 PCs that go into make the show run. This is because the machines we run are old, and therefore can’t do the multi-tasking required to cover it all in one. Plus there’s software issues that would require us to have a minimum of 2 anyway. The first machine is an old Windows XP machine, which sends the audio over to the TigerTails Radio shoutcast servers. It runs XP as the broadcast software (which also records the podcast) won’t run on anything higher. The XP machine is also where the podcast gets uploaded into the archives for the website, so if regular listeners wonder why TK goes quiet on Discord immediately after the show, now you know – He’s working on a different PC.
The Discord PC (as it’s known) is TK’s main PC where all the chat happens, and where Xavier dials in from his remote studio. The YouTube feed is also monitored from this PC, to make sure it’s all displaying okay. The YouTube comments and Discord channels are watched over from here, as well as Telegram, even though there’s no official TigerTails Radio room there yet (let TK know if you want one). The feed from the microphones goes into the Discord PC so Xavier knows what’s being said, and then it outputs his voice to the mixing equipment – which will be covered in another post.
Finally there is the YouTube broadcasting PC. This takes the video output from the camera/games and feeds it into an AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable capture device where is it mixed with the audio from the mixers. This is then fed into OBS (Open Broadcast Software), which is where all the magic happens. The video broadcast PC is also where a lot of the graphics for the show are generated. OBS is then used to switch between the main video feed, music credit, and the game screens. However, with the forthcoming test show, that could be changing.
In order to get the studio back up and running after everything was disassembled after Season 10, it was time for TK to get his room sorted. It had become a box-room of chaos so the boxes needed to be shifted, the contents crated up and storage lockered, and new furniture installed. This was a much larger task than anticipated. TK has a lot of stuff.
As things were sorted, the studio area became filled with crates and assorted detritement, as seen from earlier pictures. Loads would go into storage only to be replaced by the next load within a day or two. Much to Hedgie’s distress. The task took most of December and early January, but eventually the room was clear enough to move furniture around to create space for a new wardrobe and an area for the CRT screens – there was still the PS2 LAN to think about.
As TK has a bad back he sleeps pretty much on the floor under a table, so with a little help the drawers in the corner were removed and the table was shifted into the space. This created space for the new wardrobe. The drawers were then placed atop the table, which created the space to put the TVs on, with the consoles on the shelves of the unit. Stick a couple of bookcases in front, and a couple of stools to sit on while playing, and the new wardrobe in its assigned slot and the room is complete.
The great thing is having the four consoles in the room. Both original Playstations are linked to each other via the link cable. Both PS2 are also linked via both i.Link and Ethernet. At the moment the studio only has a couple of F1 games for the PS1 that support the link cable, but there’s some classic Wipeout that can be played when TK picks up another copy of each game, as well as Doom deathmatches.
So that was TK’s room sorted. Now work could begin on reassembling the studio. More on that in another post.
There is now a week to go. Next Monday the first test show of Season 11 begins. But what is a test show? Well…
In the early days of TigerTails Radio, we worked with equipment that was a little… less than reliable, let’s say. Our main picture of TK and Hedgie looking worried at the microphone comes from an equipment failure that stopped our headphones working, with us cursing and swearing away unaware that the mics were working fine – and it was only a message from the listeners going “you do realise we can hear you, don’t you?” that clued us in. That was very early in Season 1. As that episode took about 20 minutes to play out, there’s been the on-running gag that we’ve got the first 20 minutes of the show to break things.
When we started to get real equipment, it took some time to work out how to best configure it. So we did a pre-show episode, dubbed Episode 00. It wasn’t advertised but still gained a listener base. It was a chance to try things out, and to see how equipment worked. This started in Season 3 and worked well enough to happen again at the start of each season since. At the end of each season, the studio would be torn down, cleaned, rewired and set up again – thus making test shows an invaluable resource to make sure it had all be wired in correctly, and that all the equipment still worked.
Season 11’s test show will be a chance for TK to lean how to use the new equipment, and how to bounce from each device when each segment comes in, especially the gaming segment. We have lots of bits now, so much we had to buy a rack (as much of it was rack mountable) to put it in. The main mixer is on the desk still, as is the video mixer (which is new). At some point, we might have someone who is competent at cable management to come in and make it all look pretty but at the moment it all should work. Should! This is why we have test shows.
So, come tune in to the test shows. Watch us get the rust of presenting off as we slowly re-learn how to not talk over each other. Come see the equipment failures. It’ll probably be clunky, with dead air in places, and the sound quality might be off for a while. In other words, it should be a giggle.
As this weekend is a very busy one, let’s take this day to look back over the last few years of TigerTails Radio.
This was filmed just after Season 9 finished and released on TigerTails Radio’s 12th anniversary. Come this July, the radio hits 14 years of being on air. Features photos and videos showcasing the 12 years of the radio (at the time) plus previous hosts of the show thinking back of their time on TTR, including Wardy, Southpaw, White Virus, and others. So grab some popcorn, sit back, and relax. It’s the length of a full show.
The penultimate Saturday before the start of Season 11. And as everyone is busy, this will be a short post – as will tomorrow’s.
So let’s take a moment to give a shoutout to an unsung part of the TigerTails Radio equipment. It’s often overlooked as it’s not a big and expensive piece of electronics, but it serves a vital part of keeping the show running as smoothly as it can. And that’s the whiteboard. It is seen hanging up next to TK and contains the playlist for the show’s music, topical notes, episode numbers, and other bits and bobs which TK needs to be able to glance at while he’s busy doing things.
Normally a day or two before the show, Hedgie will select the music for the episode, decide a playlist order, create the cards for OBS, and then update the whiteboard. This tells TK things like song name, artist, track number (and on which CD). We don’t normally stick to the playlist order, but we can do. While there is space in the show running notes for 6 songs, we have 10 songs collected incase we need to fill time for some reason. This is rare, but it’s worth having that option. Then at the end of the show, we refer to the whiteboard when doing the website’s song credits.
So here’s to the whiteboard. The unsung hero of TigerTails Radio.
The new jingles have arrived, and the new opening jingle will be the first thing heard in Season 11. Get excited!
Following on from the post a couple of days ago, these have now been programmed into the app – which is now on revision 6! It has now run into an issue where the app no longer works properly on the Android device allocated to the jingles. You press the option – and then there was a good long pause before the jingle played. Thankfully, there is a better and more powerful device available, so who needs optimisation? Just throw more power at it. No screenshots this time, because of spoilers, but the new opening Jingle had Hedgie burst out with laughter. So there’s that. A couple of new jingles for new segments (including one that can cover the Quiplash slot for days we don’t play Quiplash), plus a couple of new jingles for breaks and plugs. These are what you have to look forward to. Be ready.
As for getting rid of the Drama button… It has been replaced. RIP Drama button.
Part of the planned resetting of the studio was getting some of the gaming consoles into TK’s room and out of the main studio space. This was because he has two CRT TVs in his room, which we wanted to use to expand the Playstation 2 network to 5 out of 6 consoles set up and ready. While all 6 are technically setup and ready, two of them share the same TV, thus only 5 are available at any one time. Prior to the move around, however, only 3 were available – so those CRTs needed setting up.
So the first thing to do was to start crating stuff up. TK’s room was filled with boxes that hadn’t been opened since the move. They were filled with bedding, curtains, lego, model railway stuff, and a whole treasure trove of other things. The cardboard on these boxes was getting a little ratty, so items were transposed into the plastic packing crates used to store the retro gaming hardware. There were many trips to Argos, and many times Argos delivered more crates to the studio at 9pm as TK took advantage of same-day delivery.
Moving all this stuff out of TK’s room meant that the lounge was soon almost permanently filled with crates, and as neither TK nor Hedgie drive, the kindness of Echo and others was somewhat abused in assisting with trips to the storage locker. Of course, moving things to the locker wasn’t the only task needed to get TK’s room in a state to setup the CRT TVs, but that’s another blog post.
The countdown continues…
An empty storage locker. It was not destined to stay empty much longer…
This was going to be a short post to announce something…
We’re getting some new jingles!
Which made me think, while the fact the jingles are powered by an Andriod mobile phone app has been mentioned in the past, we’ve never gone into detail about it. Since we’re doing some behind the scenes posts in the run-up to Season 11, now seems like the perfect time.
Unity has many uses. From great 3D games like City Skylines, to lazy asset flips which flood Steam. It also makes a great simple soundboard. Originally Unity 4 was used, so TK had to code scripts to make the jingles happen – but with Unity 5 came UI elements and buttons were part of this. This means that he can assign the built-in audio player to a button and just trigger the Play() function via the OnClick of a UI button. This has the benefit of being ridiculously easy to create, but does come with the downside of being unable to be stopped when started. If someone who actually knows what they’re doing wants to get in touch – the email address is in the Contact Us page…
The picture below is the progress so far of the update. It’s mostly the same as the Season 10 app, with one button changed from an old alternate News jingle to a jingle from 2006. Long time listeners will probably be able to spot which one it is. The new jingles have just been ordered, as they’re obviously not made in-house, and will be replacing 4 of the existing buttons with one more being added in that handy empty slot. This does mean TK might be getting rid of the Drama button (cue Drama sound effect) and replacing it with a jingle… We shall see.
The countdown continues…
A work-in-progress screenshot of updating the jingles app for Season 11.
Thanks to the exploits of TigerTails Gaming, not only is the studio filled with podcasting and live streaming equipment, it’s also full of retro gaming hardware. One of the challenges faced during the studio move-around after Season 10 ended was where to put everything both during the downtime and afterwards. The solution to this was to get a storage locker and fill it with the things we might need in the future, but not on a constant basis. However, this came with the problem of needing to find something to store all the stuff in once inside the unit. Thankfully, Argos to the rescue with their stackable plastic crates. The first things to be crated were the retro consoles that wasn’t already plugged into anything or already boxed up and their associated accessories/cables.
There is nothing that can teach you just how much stuff you have than having to crate it all up and send it to storage. It took a while, but soon 5 crates of at-the-time unused retro gear were ready to be stored. A crate of Megadrive stuff (including 3 spare consoles and a MegaCD 2), one filled with Sega Saturn stuff, one of Nintendo things, and two Playstation crates. Considering the studio has a 6 console PS2 LAN, it’s not surprising that there were 2 Playstation crates. One thing to note: None of these crates contained any games…
Once the retro console stuff was safely stored, it was time to start crating the rest. But that’s for later…
All the spare consoles and gear crated up
The Playstation crates, and all of the A/V leads that come with them…
That’s right, on Monday 16 April 2018, TigerTails Radio will return for our first test show of Season 11. We have new equipment, new things, and at popular request we’ve hidden TK away from the action. Well, not so much hidden as buried. You’ll see what we mean.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of photos of how the studio looked in December as things were being reorganised. There was much chaos that went on. Things are much better now, of course. Not yet perfect, but we have 14 whole days to figure that out. Which isn’t all that long, actually. Oh bother, best get the duster out and get busy.
Let the countdown begin…
Some of the mess during the studio sort out and move
Some of the mess during the studio sort out and move
Starting as a simple Shoutcast Internet Radio show on July 20th 2004, TigerTails Radio has spawned into a weekly live broadcast every Monday evening from 8pm UK time. Spanning 861 episodes since its humble beginnings, TigerTails Radio features music, news, reviews, and chat over 2 hours of live radio and now with a video stream on YouTube. Join us live via Discord or the YouTube Comments for chat, and don't forget to send in any Creative Commons music, or suggest songs that are playable worldwide under YouTube's music license. Podcast and Tubecast normally uploaded shortly after each episode airs.
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