I had the opportunity to speak with League of Legends Shoutcaster Julian “Pastrytime” Carr. We discussed how he stumbled into casting, his ceaseless quest for self development, and tips for aspiring casters to break onto the scene.
NAME: Julian “Pastrytime” Carr.
FROM: Sydney, Australia.
WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING LEAGUE OF LEGENDS?
Middle of 2010.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOUTCASTING?
5 years. Since 2011.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO SHOUTCASTING?
I always knew I wanted to get into eSports, and when I started playing League I fell in love with the game. One day, I went to play in an online tournament and none of my teammates showed up, so one of my acquaintances in the scene who was streaming the games asked me if I wanted to cast, and I did. We streamed that tournament, I casted for 10 hours to about 100 people and I really enjoyed it. From that point I started finding more games to cast and it kind of grew from there.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT SHOUTCASTING?
I really enjoy getting to marry art and science and casting allows me to combine my creative side with my more logical side in a field that I’m passionate about. I’m a big fan of polarity and paradox — I was an English major in high school — and a lot of the work I like is very paradoxical in nature. I really love the storytelling aspect as well — being able to pick out the technical elements in a game while creating a narrative, that’s really cool.
WHAT ARE A SHOUTCASTER’S DAY-TO-DAY DUTIES?
Depends on the day. During the weekdays my focus is on reflecting on the previous week’s cast: what I think I can improve on, what I think I did well, what I think I didn’t do so well, and trying to consistently track how I’m improving week over week. Before a broadcast I’ll do a lot of preparation. I make sure to know the team’s rosters, how they are doing, and any relevant storylines which bring me into the live show on the weekends.
A BIG PART OF QUEST’S EHTOS IS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC THINGS YOU LOOK FOR THAT HELP YOU MAKE DEVELOPMENTS OVER TIME?
The first thing that’s important is effective goal-setting. Setting goals for the short, medium, and long term is incredibly important.
A lot of my short-term goal setting is focusing on the little things that I can improve. So, for example, am I talking too quickly? Am I not enunciating enough on air? Am I repeating the same words too often? Is my energy or volume a little off? Did I miss a stat or fact about a player or team that would have been really good in that situation? I always come into a show weekend with one thing that I want to improve on during my casts.
The medium term goals are typically things like growing my vocabulary, increasing my creativity in certain moments, inserting a little more emotion during big team fights and so on. I’ve done my best to break down the elements of casting, but it’s still a constant learning process of readjusting, learning, and improving.
In terms of long term goals, it’s more big picture stuff. I just want to be a really, really good shoutcaster. I want to positively represent esports and continue to develop my craft and my brand.
DO YOU HAVE A COACH OR MENTOR THAT PUSHES YOU TO GROW?
I would consider the whole team –the other casters, the production team, and Riot in general – as my support system: there’s a big emphasis on mentorship. Sometimes the best course of action is to ask the burning question. For example: “Hey, I did a thing on cast and I’m not so sure about it, can you give me feedback?”
As I’ve settled more in North America, I’ve become more comfortable with getting feedback from both my fellow casters and my producers. There’s always constant conversation going on amongst us and it’s one of the reasons why the experience has been so great for me since I joined the team earlier this year.
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU SPECIFICALLY DO TO GET INTO THE RIGHT MINDSET AHEAD OF MATCHES?
Yeah, actually, and I always give this advice to people who ask: open strong. During a big show the nerves might kick in and opening strong is the best way to get through it. For a while, I kind of waited for ‘First Blood’ to get into it, and as soon as that would happen I’d feel really comfortable. But now it’s just about opening strong and leaning on your preparation.
At live events, I’ll always go out right before the show starts just to feel out the energy of the crowd. While it’s often super overwhelming, oddly enough, it helps me relax. Again, my innate love for juxtaposition.
WHAT ARE THREE TRAITS EVERY CASTER NEEDS TO HAVE TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
The number one is ability to story-tell. Realistically, the audience cares about their emotional response to what’s happening and what this means to them. Sure, a hardcore gamer will be interested in the intricacies of the game, but at the end of the day the fan or spectator will get the most out of it when they can really relate to what’s happening. Find the emotion, find the story and sell that to your audience.
Another thing is listening. It’s funny that someone who talks professionally will say listening is key but it is. Listen to your co-casters, particularly during a tri-cast. It’s very important to make sure you’re on the same page and not stepping on each other’s toes and that you’re truly building the narrative together.
Finally, good preparation. If you’ve prepared properly, it should all come to you during the cast.
IS THE CASTERS CURSE REAL OR IMAGINARY?
Haha…I think it’s a little bit real. It’s one of those things where you know the players and you know the game so you expect certain things to happen. It’s mostly coincidence but it makes sense that it happens sometimes.
ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING CASTERS?
Cast. Just cast. Whether it’s just a friend playing a game, a random VOD, or even spectating a replay – whatever it is, just sit down with a microphone and just do it. If it’s something you enjoy make sure you practice regularly and be honest with yourself. Break down how you think you can improve and give yourself constant feedback. Be opportunistic, take chances, prepare well, and just go out and do it.
A huge thank you to Julian “Pastrytime” Carr for his answers on this nuanced art, and a massive congratulations to “Pastrytime” and the rest of the Riot Shoutcasting team on an excellent 2016 regular season. See you at Worlds!