co-present collaboration over, it was time to address remote performance. ideas explored, we started on the basics. which proved quite resilient to ‘just working’.
the basic premise is all performers need to stream to each other, so they can collaborate. and these streams need to also be put together into some kind of performance stream. but not side-by-side as per every video-chat service, but on top of each other: so illustrators can work in the same space, adapting each other’s work, or e.g. an illustrator incorporate imagery of the music making into the work. streams as photoshop layers.
while i hold out hope that some kind of peer-to-peer streaming solution will arrive, the current state of things just wasn’t there. some kind of central server, if only to coordinate, seems necessary given finicky home networks. while i can do that, it was beyond the remit of skilling-up others. and still wouldn’t get us to something turnkey-like.
in my research, i did find a service that unlocked remote performance for us: stream voodoo. it’s a video-chat web app that does the basics like any other service,
and they’re oriented to live performance, so focus on low latency and full audio. but the killer feature is ‘magic links’, which make the individual feeds in that main video chat screen available on their own, as web pages. this means those links can be used as web browser sources in apps like OBS Studio and VDMX.
the screenshot above shows a test session proof of concept with sound artist xavier velastín, where we had
- cam, xavier, and myself able to see and hear each other in a video chat
- xavier’s camera feed and cam’s illustration feed being processed and composited together in VDMX
- xavier’s audio being sent to OBS from VDMX, via Rogue Amoeba’s Loopback
- VDMX outputting to OBS via Syphon
- OBS broadcasting to twitch
overall though, the process was quite frustrating. xavier’s laptop was having issues, and stream voodoo often failed probably due to poor free-trial UX rather than the streaming itself. note to former self: if you’re facilitating something like this for somebody else, don’t wait for them to see the value in paying, just pay up, have it work, and then talk about value.