When it comes to creating engaging online content, there’s plenty you can do to keep your viewers’ attention. New Rockstar’s livestream “The Breakroom” has discovered a way to provide highly engaging content on a consistent basis. They leverage livestreaming as a time-saving tool for production. We talk with New Rockstars Producer John Costa about what it takes to produce “The Breakroom.” He shares how creators can maximize their resources to create consistent videos they love.
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User created: Oct 8th, 20011
The New Rockstars YouTube channel has been around since 2011. Initially, they focused on interviewing new media YouTube creators, then dubbed the ‘new rockstars.’ Today, the channel focuses on pop culture and entertainment. Their programming includes BREAKDOWN, a show dedicated to finding Easter eggs and missable details from popular movies and TV shows. There’s also “The Breakroom,” a live show that talks about the latest news in entertainment.
John joined the New Rockstars team in 2019 as a freelance editor. At the time he wasn’t a dedicated editor, but he had experience editing his own projects in the past. He shares, “I know how to string a story together, and I know the technical aspects of how to edit. I went to film school where I had to edit all my own stuff.”
WHEN I WAS A BEGINNER, YOU HAVE TO EDIT ALL YOUR OWN CONTENT, AND I DIDN’T REALLY HAVE ANY GOOD EDITING QUALIFICATIONS BUT I HAD A FRIEND WHO WORKED HERE AND NEEDED PEOPLE TO EDIT VIDEOS AND I WAS LIKE, ‘HEY, I’LL TRY TO TAKE A SWING AT IT.’
After some time, John was hired as a full-time editor. After that, he became the post-production supervisor for New Rockstars.
During this time, John oversaw all of the video projects that went out at New Rockstars. Each piece of content shares a common goal — resonance. “It’s so easy to forget that there are people that you’re creating content for,” says John. “You’re not creating content for a number…[what] we’re trying to do is give people just an hour of a day. If they need an hour of [non-sense], we want them to have fun with these people they feel like they have gotten to know.”
At the beginning of 2022, John Costa moved out of post-production and into a producer position. The first project John produced was a series called Fitness Origins. This series revolved around hosts competing in a series of superhero-inspired fitness routines.
This was a unique project for John. “We had a sponsorship deal with DoorDash, and we were trying to figure out how to integrate food with what we do, which is pop culture and entertainment. We settled on this weird idea, which was getting nerds into shape… an origin story of people becoming their superhero selves.”
This project was fun and served as a proving ground for himself and the team that they were able to do more than they thought.
The beginning of “The Breakroom“
“The Breakroom” is a five-day-a-week livestream show that discusses the latest in pop culture media. The goal of the show is to be both informative and fun, shares Costa.
“We’re so busy now; it’s hard to get together with your friends. If you need someone to hang out with, we’re always going to be there. If we can give that to people, that’s awesome. That’s the thing that I find the most satisfying, is giving people something that they were maybe missing.”
The first episode streamed on May 2, 2022, but the show was in development well before that.
At the time, New Rockstars was interested in getting into live productions.
John recalls, “After ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ came out, we thought it would be fun to get together on a Zoom call and give our initial impressions.” The team livestreamed a Zoom call to see how their audience would respond.
The responses were overwhelmingly positive, shares Costa. With that, they spent the next five months developing the show. It took a lot of work because it was a live show; there were many elements they needed to test out live. “We really wanted to throw [the show] on its feet,” John shares. They recorded several live shows and took time to decide what worked the best and what didn’t.
Feedback was critical, so they leveraged Discord as a test audience for their private streams. Describing the process, John shares, “Once we got comfortable with a product that we could show real people, we had 45 to 50 members of our Discord just like, ‘Hey, here’s a cool show that we’re working on; we’re just trying some things out. Check it out if you want to come to watch.’” This test audience gave valuable feedback that let them know they were headed in the right direction with the show.
“IT’S ALWAYS DIFFERENT WHEN YOU PUT SOMETHING OUT IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE, BECAUSE YOU START TO SWEAT A LITTLE BIT MORE. AS SOON AS YOU PUT SOMETHING OUT YOU’RE LIKE, ‘OKAY, I DIDN’T REALLY LIKE HOW THAT WENT; I DIDN’T REALLY LIKE HOW THAT WENT — THAT ACTUALLY WENT PRETTY WELL. PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS THING BUT I REALLY THINK THAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS OTHER THING, SO THAT STARTED TO BECOME REALLY HELPFUL AS WELL.”
Preparing for a livestream is imperative because it’s — well — live. There are no second takes or do-overs. Through their livestream tests, the New Rockstars team has developed a workflow that has allowed them to create more content in less time.
“The Breakroom” is primarily run through an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO live production switcher. The switcher allows them to run and operate four Blackmagic Studio Camera 4k Pros that can record independently.
From there, the show is operated through an interface that gives John and his team all the capabilities they need to run the show. They also make use of a plugin called Bitfocus Companion. This software allows them to set presets for the show at the press of a button. One example John displayed was their “starting soon” preset. Once pressed, it mutes all the microphones, brings up a scene in OBS, and starts playing music immediately. This has been the most game-changing resource, John shares. “This is a $200 piece of equipment — the stream deck — and with this piece of software, we got to be saving $10,000 or something.”
“WE’VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOREVER, PROSUMER OR CONSUMER PRODUCTS ARE GETTING SO GOOD AND SO INEXPENSIVE, AND WITH THAT COMBINED WITH THE SOFTWARE, WE CAN PUT UP A SHOW THAT IS AS GOOD AS THE THINGS YOU SEE ON TV.”
With the technical side of the production set, the next step is to create the content. Several members of the New Rockstars team contribute to the process, including dedicated researchers and writers. Because the show is primarily a news show, the show revolves around headlines. The second half of the show is ‘Mandatory Fun.’ In John’s words, it’s just the team going to do something stupid.
“We have a great researcher and she pulls a bunch of headlines for us at 2:00 AM when she’s ready to go to bed. She’s a night owl, so it works out well.” From there, he puts together an outline for the show. Next, John leads a meeting with another producer and the cast to get feedback. It’s important that the cast has a buy-in as well. “ … if they’re not into it, the show’s not going to be good. If they’re not into it, the audience might not be into it. Having a bunch of people’s opinions that I trust [is] so useful. Maybe that’s not actually a good idea, and they’re all super smart — a couple of them are producers and writers themselves, so that’s really helpful.”
Once the meeting wraps, the New Rockstars team works to get the technical aspects of the show, giving them three hours to finish.
Because they treat the production like a news show, they have to plan for when news breaks after they’ve prepped the show.
“SO, THAT’S THE REALLY COOL THING ABOUT THIS SHOW IS WHEN NEWS BREAKS 30 MINUTES BEFORE WE’RE ABOUT TO GO LIVE. THAT’S SO ENERGIZING, THAT’S SO FUN!”
The workflow John and his team have created for “The Breakroom” has. Other shows have taken advantage of their setup, allowing them to shoot the footage and effectively edit in real time.
THAT HAS BEEN A HUGE BENEFIT OF DOING THIS SHOW. WE SAVED A LITTLE BIT OF MONEY ON EDITING COST, AND WE SAVED A TON OF TIME. IT WOULD TAKE FIVE OR SIX HOURS TO EDIT THAT VIDEO AND NOW IT’S DONE BY THE TIME WE’RE DONE TAPING IT, WHICH IS AMAZING.
Advice for creators
If you’re looking to get started livestreaming, don’t fall into the equipment trap. John advises you not only to start with what you have, but to start with who you know. Relating, he shares, “The stereotypical answer is, ‘Hey, our phones are so good right now; you can livestream from your phone on TikTok. You can have a huge audience just on your phone.’ That’s totally true, but I think that doesn’t always resonate with [everyone]. Some people are like, ‘my ambitions are bigger than my phone.’”
Recalling a time when he first moved to LA years ago, “The best piece of advice I got was from a screenwriter that I ran into at a screening. He was like, ‘Stop asking people like me for help and advice. Get the people together that you know and come up with them. You will make friends in this industry, and the friends that you make in this industry [will be how you make it].’”
It’s more than just knowing the right people, John elaborates; it’s about making use of your resources. You may not have the equipment you want to get started, but you may know people who do.
PEOPLE ARE LIKE, “OH, DON’T GO TO FILM SCHOOL. IT’S NOT GOING TO TEACH YOU ANYTHING.” THAT IS ALMOST TRUE, BUT THE THING THAT I GAINED THE MOST OUT OF FILM SCHOOL WAS THE FREEDOM TO MAKE A TON OF MISTAKES, AND I MET SO MANY COOL PEOPLE THAT WANTED TO MAKE THE SAME STUFF THAT I DID.
Reflecting, John says, “Our first livestream test was probably March 20th; we didn’t go live until May 2nd. We had the luxury of being able to do tests that were not public. As soon as you can make something, you’re going to start learning, and you’re going to start getting better. You’re going to learn so much by making things.”
New Rockstar’s “The Breakroom” uses livestreaming to create highly engaging content and save time for creators. Producing a multi-camera live show takes a great deal of tech and coordination. As John has pointed out, the important first step to take is not to buy equipment — but to utilize your resources. If your aspirations are bigger than your camera, connect with other creators. Your first production isn’t going to be perfect, but it will get you started down the path of getting better.