Experimenting with Matt Chat Formats

I guess you guys have probably noticed I’ve been playing around with the Matt Chat format. Mostly this is just to avoid stagnation; I feel like I should always be trying to find ways to improve the show or just change it up enough to keep it fresh. I also have to admit it’s been fun playing around with Blender and some of Vegas’s more advanced features.

However, some folks have objected strongly to the changes in the latest video. It seems that I may have went overboard, rendering a moving 3D background of a circuit-textured tunnel throughout the video. Even I thought it might be a bit distracting and tried to slow it down, but apparently not enough. Only now do I realize that I didn’t need any such thing–I’m already providing two points of interest for viewers: the talking head and the gameplay footage. If you get bored with one, you switch to the other. Adding a third thing just makes it look too busy.

Still, I won’t give up the quest to find subtle ways to improve the show. A lot of it happens behind-the-scenes, such as finding better formats and rendering settings for YouTube, or streamlining my production methods to get the videos out faster (and with less exhaustion on my part!).

The general consensus I’ve reached with my Facebook Matt Chat fans (who seem to be the most talkative of any of the various MC-related forums): keep the gameplay footage and talking heads, but overlay the heads rather than give them a dedicated space. I’ll just impose a static background that will fill in the black (and help people remember this is an HD widescreen format).

The only real question left is whether to keep the pop-ups. Some people seem to like them, others find them a pain. What’s your thoughts? If I keep them, what kind would you like to see?

6 thoughts on “Experimenting with Matt Chat Formats

  1. Freeman

    I like the pop-ups. Both the ones that are funny and informational.

    If you feel like stepping back from the comedy a bit, I’d be sad, but I don’t think it would hurt the show on the whole, but keep the interesting points you sometimes insert in there as added info that might not have been put in the conversation.

    All in all, make yourself happy. You enjoying it will always be the most entertaining and energizing thing about the show.

    1. Matt Barton Post author

      Thanks, Freeman. You’re right, of course. While I like to try my best to please the fans, obviously, if I’m not having fun doing the show it’s all a moot point. I do like putting in funny text popups and such. I’ll just need to make sure there’s no misunderstanding the intent–I’d never try to make a guest look bad with them. It does raise a question, though. If a guest does get a fact wrong, should I “correct” them with a popup? Or just let it stand?

      1. Freeman

        Yeee….Good question…

        My first thought is to have a ‘show notes’ portion where you can direct people for each show. LIke an errata section of things that are wrong, or where our understanding or information has changed with new data, etc. It would be the easiest place to sneak that in without putting a frame around the guest with ‘WRONG’ in flashing neon letters.

        Second thought is “Can you edit it out?” Bad info is worse than no info. If you can just ‘lose’ that piece of footage from the edited show without destroying the context of something else, then problem solved. On that note, when your last interview said this was off the record and the camera kept going I thought “He’s going to leave it in!” then no. You raised my hopes and then dashed them expertly sir! Good job!

        Ultimately though, you’ve invited them on for their point of view. So all things equal, I might leave it in, but depending on the content, it might be a good reason to do a retrospective of what they got wrong, and put the correct information there, maybe with a comment about how so and so remembers it differently, or something.

        Would love to know what other people think though.

  2. Aleksey

    Hi Matt,

    I’m watching the Brenda Romero video and it’s clearly a big improvement over “old Matt” format.
    I divided my feedback into “good things” and “correctable things”.


    * Having A background
    * Matt window only appearing when you speak (watching someone listening isn’t exactly interesting television)
    * Richness of visual content contextually linked to the interview (boy, that is a tremendous amount of work)
    * Webcam window sizes are correct IMO, given how crappy most webcams are
    * Overall feel to me is closer to a television documentary now


    * The background should be 2D, and more subdued/soft(it’s currently too busy and distracting), but I like the idea of subtle animation in form of shifting color, like in the back of news broadcasts, or more relatably, the moving background of Playstation 3 menu system.


    * The info bubbles – I like them. They provide just the occasional distraction that you’re free to ignore if you’re watching the “big” footage, or you can read them if the game currently being portrayed is not very entertaining. I think they may fit better with the overall picture by having dark background with light text, as opposed to a white window they are now.

    In regards to your concern about “bubbling” info that may contradict what the developer is saying – I would stay clear of controversy in that department and only stick to info that is still relevant but avoids directly confronting what the inevitably flawed, but otherwise remarkable human in your webcam window is saying.


    You could check your views and pick some of your most popular videos from the past, and then re-release them in a new format. I don’t know if you kept all the source files, but given the visual simplicity of the old videos, it will be enough just to have the “final render .AVI” that you probably kept.

    If you didn’t keep it, at worst, you could download the highest-res version from Youtube and work with it. The most important things you would need to take from those videos are the webcam footage (which is low-res in most cases) and the audio (which can be cleaned up if necessary). As result you would still be able to make the new fancy hi-rez videos with them, hiding the low-res of webcam by shrinking it into that neat small window in the corner.

    Just my $43987.02 :)

  3. Rzurr Szarnosh IV

    I like watching the developers talk, so I prefer how cameras were before. I’m watching an interview with a person after all. Person shouldn’t be reduced to a tiny window.

  4. Matt Barton Post author

    Thanks for all the great advice and feedback, guys. I will definitely be working on smoothing out the wrinkles in the next video. Rzurr, you seem to be in the minority wanting only to watch the talking heads, though I will be blowing them up occasionally to full-size when it feels appropriate.

    I’ll also try to find a less-obtrusive or more relevant format for the pop-ups. I want people watching to notice them, but not have it be so distracting for folks who don’t care and just want to watch the interview. I suppose I could use YouTube’s annotations instead, which could be turned off, but some people might not realize that and get more upset. 😉


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