"Produced" Pinball

Stern just released their ~40 minute video for the TMNT Heads Up Invitational (available on their youtube channel) and the feedback was pretty much all positive. Should future tournaments head in this direction? The big ones of course with lots of resources, I’m not saying that we should just remove live streaming altogether. I’m thinking things like the Stern Pro Circuit should it eventually happen, should we not live stream it? But rather swear the 20 participants to secrecy until the footage can be produced into an under-an-hour broadcastable segment?

What are people’s thoughts on this? I know for all of us hardcores, I love watching things live as they happen and the wait for production would be killer, but man you get so much out of it. I wonder if BOTH could happen too, a live broadcast and then a produced thing later that would be meant for people who just want the highlights.

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Live matters a lot to me. For some reason, I could never watch recorded sports, I lose interest. Somehow knowing the outcome has already been determined impacts my enjoyment.


Works for poker. Could work here too. But would be hard to keep the diehards from knowing what happened.

I enjoyed watching this last night. They did a good job with it.


It would depend on how long a delay there was between Live and Produced outputs.

If the aim is to grow popularity and views, that must mean that you need to capture new viewers, probably from outside the current group of people - to them a produced, slick show will be appealing and keep their interest.
The current viewers, as proven by the fact they’re currently watching, will accept a less polished Live show, and could possibly wait for a day or 2 for a produced show, but not longer than that.

Yes and no. Speaking as someone who loves pinball but really doesn’t enjoy physically being at live events unless I’m playing, but will watch (or keep on in the background) a livestream of hours upon hours of events like the Stern Pro Circuit, I feel like there’s too much FOMO in not being able to see as much as possible thanks to the wonders of live streaming or recording something with multiple cameras and editing a “director’s cut” of like, everything, together (which is probably very expensive! But do iiiit). The TMNT Heads Up was really cool, and something that I think has huge value to continue as we figure out how to adapt pinball to the current…everything. I still couldn’t help but wonder what we didn’t see and want to see much more than the 40 mins would allow.

From a content creation perspective, there’s always going to be ton to work with there from footage that didn’t necessarily make it into the video, right, which is rad! You can do highlight reels, bloopers if there’s enough, keep internal records of potential bugs or malfunctions that need to be addressed based on what players experienced, and more. And again, there’s huge value in the 40 minutes that was put together. So, keep it up but maybe keep a second version that’s just all the footage.

And from a personal side, especially now when pals were involved who I can’t see on the regular and play pinball with, I’d rather see it all, live or not. And not necessarily “just the highlights”.

Please give us all of the pinball I guess is my vote. More pinball plz.

I’ve been substituting my need for live pinball tournaments with disc golf tournaments for the last couple months. The DGPT (Disc Golf Pro Tour - https://www.dgpt.com/ ) does live casts on their website, with a subscription (which stern pro circuit should follow) but then other YouTube channels do next day coverage of the lead cards with better production quality and commentators (check out JomezPro. Its really entertaining and I’ve been looking forward to their major tournaments.

I think some of the best pinball tournament videos have been with commentary with some of the players after the tournament, such as PAPA 14 (see https://pinballvideos.com/v/67). So I’m all for supplementing live with better produced videos, but I think getting rid of live streams would be a really bad idea.


Live stream the events for die hards and then create a streamlined version later for general viewing and re-watching.

For me personally, the broadcast last night was too short which makes sense since I’m used to watching a single hockey or football game for 2.5+ hours. The nature of the format, objective-based head-to-head play, means shorter games and therefore shorter matches. So a “normal” event would be sure to run a lot longer, even if streamlined.


Some people watch Big Brother live streams 24/7 . . .

Some people watch the edited Big Brother episodes three times a week . . .

Some people do both, while also reading through every forum on bigbrotherupdates.com (am I right @gdd)? :slight_smile:

I think there’s plenty of room for the 300-500 rabid people that want their pinball live in whatever quality they can get, while also focusing on the best execution for growing that base of people that would consider watching “pinball content” at all. I feel strongly that this polished and produced content is the best way to try and expand that base. I’ve also felt strongly for years since we started the IFPA Heads-Up Championship that the HUC format is a great way to try and expand that base as well.


If the goal is to increase exposure, then I feel that “produced pinball” is the way to go.

I love live pinball but I’m already heavily involved in the scene. When I think of competition-focused events which I am a casual fan of, it’s all produced content (Holey Moley, American Ninja Warrior, Battlebots, American Gladiators, and my new favorite of Marble Racing).

I agree with what everyone is saying (insert the “why not both” meme). If it’s a Stern Pro Circuit event or a high-profile one where lots of people are involved then carry it live (where possible) and have a polished “produced” package after the fact which would still be a very valuable asset to have for more casual fans to consume after-the-fact. I think it’s a hard sell to keep the results secret in a very public event (especially one at a show) until a produced video is done.

Ray, do you see Stern moving in the direction of creating more content like this as an advertising avenue for the business?

As a person who runs a Pro Circuit event, I’d love to create a post-facto highlights video but ultimately I know I don’t have the video-production skills to produce anything near the quality of what Stern has just made with this video, nor do we have budget to pay someone to do it unless someone is willing to step up and volunteer. I can certainly see the Pro Circuit Finals be produced in this way, but would Stern/IFPA be willing to throw support behind creation of video packages like this for Pro Circuit events?

If it’s a Invitational like what Stern just created, then it’s easy to keep things private until a video is produced.

Entirely off topic, but a Portland pinballer was featured on the most recent season of Holey Moley. Synergy!


Hey I only read the minute by minute live feed updates on Twitter.

I have said over and over for years that edited, produced versions of events is the only way that pinball has any hope at all of reaching a real audience. Its exactly like poker that way. Sure I love watching them live, but for most people it is like watching paint dry. However you take that two day tournament down to two hours of highlights and people eat it up. This is the future if mass market is in any way desirable.


That video by Stern was well done and fun to watch. I’d love for Stern to make available the unedited version as well with all its commentary. For us hardcore people having a (mostly) unedited version of a live streamed tournament would be great for when one is not able to watch the stream as it’s happening and wants to watch it in its entirety later. The “produced” version can be for people who just want the highlights of the event.

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Live “open” events, yes. The fun is watching the competition evolve, people playing for their tournament lives. While post-production can do “highlights,” it will also usually choose to ignore certain players or games in favor of others. I don’t want to see “the usual suspects” all the time any more than I want to see Sterns all the time. They do “condensed rebroadcasts” of things like NCAA Football, golf, bowling, cycling, etc. and they all lack something compared to the original. If I’m watching an event that’s already taken place, I’d rather be able to high-speed it than have someone else choose what pieces to cut out. Adding commentary is great, but is more interesting when live due to the moment-by-moment honest reactions to things as they happen.

Though it’s not my style of pinball, the broadcast was great. Great balance between player info, game info, and general pinball skills info.

Not even sure that’s possible. Seems like commentary was rehearsed, recorded, and probably re-recorded in multiple takes over the already condensed & assembled video. While watching I suspected that the matches weren’t even necessarily played simultaneously, just each participant recording themselves doing each challenge, then edited together to be perfectly synchronized. If you notice when someone wins, the opponent doesn’t seem to be aware they lost. Gameplay video just cuts back to the booth ASAP.

Sorry if I’m peeking behind the curtain a bit too much.

I thought it was great. One of those things I thought I would cringe my way through, but Jack, Tim, and Imoto did really well. But this is the internet and I have some opinions:

I’ve never been much of a fan of watching heads up pinball, and this was no different. It is impossible to focus on both playfields at once, so you end up just watching one, or worse flipping between the two. It feels chaotic in the kind of way that a “normie” would tune out pretty quick (even if the goals are easy, like in this challenge). I get why we’re seeing more of this format (guarantees a shorter broadcast to maintain interest, focuses on simple goals to attract newbies, etc), but:

Considering the challenges are so quick, could it work to have player 1 play their round, then player 2 goes and has a timer (perhaps with an inset, smaller video of player 1’s round) to compete with? I realize this lengthens the broadcast, and that comes with its own issues. But it also allows the commentators to focus on one player’s performance, skill moves, accuracy, plan of attack for a challenge, etc.

It also bugged me that it was pretty clear the players weren’t actually playing at the same time, so the sense of urgency isn’t there. Probably more a COVID problem than anything though, so meh, we’re all doing the best we can :).

Lastly, I got ear fatigue on that pre-match/challenge picking tune. I don’t know if the length of time between hearing it each time was just too short. It’s the closest I came to cringing.


If I can watch cornhole championships on ESPN that include trash talking as a skill they deploy, I should be able to see some pinball on there!

maybe if on the same game to cut down on any game to game varying.

How will they do an photo finish / video clock review and at what point do you have to call it an dead heat

I run a TV sports broadcaster here and live is what people want. I seem to remember it being like 10000-1 in favour of live action.

Might even be more than that. You can make a show live like that it’s all about having the right OB and production team.

I had something planned for this year of that type of Full broadcast level but Covid has put it back.

It would be interest to see the viewing analytics but as I noted before pinball’s challenge isn’t broadcasting - it’s viewer interest.

And the danger of pre-recorded is you end up with less viewers because word gets out of the results which would be very bad.


I thought this was the best, most professional pinball broadcast of any kind. Can’t wait for the next one!

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