What technology can be used to improve the pinball viewing experience for the casual observer?


You mean like Detroit Bikes?


This one would irritate me. It would make every broadcast too similar for me, it is the extra stuff that the commentators bring in that adds colour and interest. I enjoy this. Over here in Australia we have a game called cricket and it goes for 5 days straight. Can you imagine how boring it would be if the commentators only did play by play. Or the Tour de France, what would that be like if the commentators only called what they saw happening? Pinball is like these sports, since a broadcast goes for 8 hours or more.


Only the Brits could invent a game that you play for five days and then, half the time, you don’t have a winner when it’s finished.

And you can count on the sports-mad Aussies to get excited about it despite that :wink:


I bet if the tournaments had staged fights people would watch.

But also seriously I lose interest unless it’s super clear who’s playing who for what. Maybe some colorful commentary over who’s the underdog amd why so and so will win or not. I guess the kind of stuff that makes regular sports commentary fun.


Hey @Snailman. Thanks for the compliment…very kind coming from a top 50 player like yourself! My “podcasts” are different than streams of competitions so I’m not sure I’m an expert by any means. Even if you listen to my Pinball Profile’s, they are more conversations than straight up question/answer interviews. But, a general rule is LISTEN. Listen to what the other person is saying, and avoid talking over them. If you have nothing to say, don’t talk for the sake of talking.

I’ve done colour commentating for minor league baseball, (I’m Canadian, we have a “u” in colour) and hosted a TV sports show with a co-host, and again the key has always been to listen…and react. Don’t talk for the sake of talking. If you listen to my podcasts, I talk less than 50% of the time (except Ep. 31…giggle, giggle). I’d rather hear what the guest has to say than hear me babble on.

I like the streams I see, and really appreciate the strategies explained. If the image on the scree states the obvious, don’t repeat it. In fact, the reason I do Pinball Profile is because I found on the competition streams, unless the commentator knows the player, you don’t hear much about that individual. You certainly get info on the game and the tourney status, but I always wanted to know more about the palyer…and that’s why I do Pinball Profile. I found if you just watched Poker on TV…it’s boring. But add some characters to the individual, and it’s more interesting.

I’ve only been asked to do one pinball stream, so I must not be that good at it that I haven’t been asked again, but I’d be honoured to do one. Here it is…


Just a few thoughts, based off an eSport category I have more viewing experience with: Fighting Games.

I think the Fighting tournaments have experienced a lot of these same growing pains, especially as their circuits (a la Capcom Cup) have grown in popularity. I’ve seen some pretty poor streams, at some major events, so it is something they continue to struggle with (and streaming a video game is pretty easy compared to something like pinball).

A few comparisons of things I like:

  1. Scoring: Almost all the Fighting tournaments have a static banner. It shows the name of each player and their current score in terms of wins in the match. Pinball could mimic this. The current game’s scores are already being shown. But knowing the points earned, or number of strikes, or whatnot (depending on format) constantly shown means it doesn’t ever need to be said.

  2. Brackets: This is something the Fighting tournaments have struggled with, but are getting better about. They stuck with paper brackets forever, and it was as awful as it sounds. Now, the major events will, between matches, cut to the bracket. Not the whole thing, usually just zoomed in to the area of upcoming matches. Generally not done until Top 16 or so, from what I’ve witnessed. But, again, it is helpful. Viewers shouldn’t need to be logging into software to see the bracket, it should be a part of the stream.

  3. Two Commentators. I’ve seen more sometimes, and I think it’s too much. Just one always seems to suffer as there is no one to play off of. Again, as you’d expect, one does play-by-play, one does color. In between is a good time for interviews or a rules expert or whatnot, but during the play, two is plenty. The play-by-play usually calls out the major moves done, noting when things are ready (super attack ready being akin to having multiball on deck). Color often fills the gaps with playstyle things (Bob is a cautious player who favors precise footsies and positioning over an aggressive offense; Bob hates trapping up and favors on-the-fly shooting and games with fast flow to compliment the approach).

  4. Jargon Translation. This is something new that I really am fond of. I do not play Fighting games competitively (I never have), so when I watch the play-by-play, there is jargon I do not understand. The jargon is necessary (like pinball, the games just play so fast you have to keep moving), but I was often clueless about what was being said. It seems this was an issue for others, as now some of the major events are putting up definitions of commonly used terms in between matches (when they normally run their sponsorship crawl, giving the commentators a break). It would be a good place to define things like live catch, trapping up, etc.

Biggest problem I think streaming pinball has cannot be helped. Vertically wide games shown on horizontally wide screens. It really is hard to see much, and since one cannot assume the home viewer can rotate their screen 90 degrees, not really anything can be done to solve that, unless there was a smooth way to track the ball and actually zoom in on the playfield, like what you might do if playing Pinball FX2 or something.


I would love to work on a series of pre-produced Pinball Corner (inspired by WPT’s Poker Corner) clips that describe various terms, skills, and phenomena that go on during pinball matches.

A list that would be covered includes (but is definitely not limited to because I would take up a lot of space):

  • Pinball Rules (Scoring, # of balls, who wins, turn order)
  • Tournament Rules (Tournament Settings, tournament formats)
  • Flipper Techniques (passes, Shatzing, catches)
  • Nudging (why its done, tilt bob, Tilts, Tilt-throughs, types of saves)
  • Aiming (what happens when you flip away, how players aim and adjust mid-game)
  • Multiball (what goes on, how to handle it, cradle separations)
  • Archetypes of games (one-shot ponies, bonus builders, multiballs, mode progressions)
  • Mental Game (preparing, dealing with adversity)
  • And many more!

These would be short, bite-size clips you can run between matches with all of the videos available in one location for anyone who is curious and wants to chain-watch them all. Think of it similar to the “flipper techniques” series from PAPA, but with a bit more production and polish. I can write all the scripts and do all the explanations, but I don’t have any production experience or software…so I need to pitch this to someone who does.


Absolutely, this problem is huge and until it can be solved pinball broadcasts will only be for the diehard fans.


Email me, we can do this if you have some time this summer.


The old Vimeo format was just a playfield cam - no player cam, no score cam. This was vertical friendly.


It’s a pie in the sky idea, but I wish current pinball manufacturers would create a way to have real time score data to be queried. This way that data could be incorporated into a broadcast via chyron, etc instead of a camera pointed at the score display.


As a broadcaster, I would prefer having the display readily available. Pinball displays show so many things other than the score, so showing the display allows broadcasters to keep up with the game state without having savant-level table knowledge and spectators to keep up to date without having the casters give every small detail.

With the new displays in all games (including MMR/AFMR), it would be nice if the display feed could be split and standard cabling or some sort could be used as a video out from the machine. That way the camera element can be removed and the display can be preserved.


I’ve seen some of the iepinball streams do this with JJP games - it is beyond cool.


I love all the cool camera image splicing that stream producers do to crop out the unneeded portion of the camera image. In the case of classic backglass score displays with 4 separate digits/reels areas, I really liked how PAPA and others zoom in on them, and having a 4-quadrant view that made the scores more readable than a single camera image of the entire backglass (zoomed out).

But… the one element I would recommend including in the future is a fifth section of the spliced camera images that also includes the ball in play. Don’t know if this is possible, or how much extra work is entailed, but it would be nice to be able to see which ball the match is on.


Add a 5th source from the camera, show the ball in play number if it isn’t incorporated in already. I think the only 2 issues I can see are re-formatting transparency overlays and issues taxing more from the camera, which can be worked around.


Ah, is that what Karl was doing - I was wondering how he did that :smiley:


I’m catching up on this thread, if you scroll back a ways someone brought up fighting game stuff back in the 2015 part, specifically Smash Bros. I thought it was relevant then, and I think it’s probably even more so now, as the fighting game streaming has just kept improving since, and there’s even more to learn from it.

There’s money in it, commentators are paid, there are sponsors, it’s not necessarily a model that can “just work” for pinball. I watch fighting game streams all the time with 20k viewers, it’s not the same level.

But that said, I think it might be valuable to watch some examples, as an outsider, and just see what jumps out to you. In fact being an outsider is valuable, because the things you find yourself latching onto for comfort are probably things new pinball viewers would also appreciate.

Just a thought. Here’s the grand finals from last night’s Street Fighter NorCal Regionals tournament as an example if anyone is interested in seeing what if anything might be worth stealing or considering:


I really like how the commentators incorporate hype in a lot of the Fighting tournaments. And it isn’t easy (I’ve seen streams where the commentators are getting loud and yelling fast but you can tell what happens on screen isn’t matching up with the level of excitement), but it is another helpful element. If the commentators are excited, the viewers get excited, since supposedly something awesome is happening. And we like awesome!

I’ve tried to notice at Fighting tournaments how close the commentators are to the play. I wonder if they get distracting or not. Most seem relatively close… I think it’s just accepted that it isn’t golf and if you don’t like noise you need to wear headphones.

But yeah, hype. Forgot how key it was until I saw that video. Hype keeps viewers hooked, and I think it’s probably a way to grow the culture of pinball as a spectator sport.


Speaking from the tournaments I’ve been to they’re generally pretty close, yeah.


It’s a very different format as far as hype, head to head fighting game in 99s rounds compare to alternating indirect 4 players games going at much slower pace. Going over excited for a 45 minutes TAF games would quickly get annoying :slight_smile:

The production quality is very good, even considering a digital game versus a physical pinball but the budget and sponsorship makes it a completely different level. maybe it’s simply proportional to the amount of customer, I assume there is a whole bunch more video game competitor than pinball ones so more money in it?