Online Conference Volunteers

An online conference presents a different set of challenges from a conference held in person. DebConf uses the following setup when running an online conference. The largest difficulty is getting things setup. This requires a fairly involved process of getting the required services up and running. While explaining how to set it up is beyond the scope of the guide, the Ansible roles and playbooks required are found in The DebConf video team Ansible documentation. The general setup is described under Room setup.

Points of Contact

  • Orga: #debconf-team

  • Video: #debconf-video

  • Content: #debconf-content

  • Website: #debconf-team

Operating Volunteer Setup/Requirements

  • 8mbps dedicated Internet connection. Jitsi and stream monitoring take the most bandwidth, so if you are struggling, try monitor a lower quality version of the stream or lower the quality in your Jitsi client.

  • Headphones (if not, use push-to-talk by pressing the space bar, to avoid echo)

  • Microphone (for Talkmeister: external ideal)

  • Software installed:

    • Internet browser - Chrome, Chromium or Firefox. Firefox ESR may cause local performance issues for people using it.

    • VLC - monitor the stream

    • IRC client - hexchat, weechat, Quassel

  • Credentials / accounts required:

    • IRC

    • Jitsi streaming keys (for streaming to Voctomix)

    • Salsa

    • Conference Website - ask on #debconf-team for access to the video team group

  • Useful links/URLs (these are conference specific, available in the wiki):

    • Jitsi

    • Streaming endpoints/stream website

    • Q&A pads

    • Schedule

    • Voctoweb

    • Conference website

    • SReview

Running a Talk (Director)

The Director controls what is recorded and what goes out onto the stream. They decide what video sources should be shown on stream and are in charge of the pre-recorded video playback, when applicable. They are also responsible for monitoring the stream for quality assurance.

Go to https://voctoweb.online.debconf.org/ and log in using your Salsa credentials. You will be prompted to authorize the application and will be redirected back to VoctoWeb when you do. All changes you make there will be visible on the stream.

Voctoweb is a web frontend to Voctomix. The previews are images updated regularly, so you will see the previews jump from frame to frame. The Mixed Output section shows what is is going out on stream if the stream output is live. The current status of the stream is indicated by the colour of the banner:

  • Green - stream is live

  • Red - the stream is showing the loop or is blank

The banner allows you to select between Live and Loop for the current stream state. When the stream is Live, the four sections Loop, Grabber, Recording and Jitsi allow you to select what is shown on screen. When the stream is on Loop, changing anything in these sections does not go out to the stream. Voctomix provides four layouts that you can select between in the banner. The colours indicate source A (blue) or B (red). During a talk, you should have the active source fullscreen (first layout), while the picture-in-picture (last layout) works well for the Q&A section of a talk.

voctoweb-screenshot

DebConf encourages presenters to submit their pre-recorded talks to sReview. These are processed and can be played in the Recordings section of VoctoWeb. The file must be loaded for play-out using the Select File button and then played it when appropriate. This will automatically select the Recording source and start playing the file.

You can set a source to be Source A or B by clicking on the appropriate button at the top of the section. This will reflect immediately on the stream. You can also set the volume level of a source using the Mute, 0 db or a range by using the buttons and sliders below the preview in the source section.

A talk has the following flow:

  1. Setup - Join the Jitsi room for the talk and start streaming from Jitsi (More Actions -> Start Live Streaming -> Enter Stream Key). Set Everyone follows me (More Actions -> Settings -> More -> Everyone follows me).

  2. Introduction - Jitsi source fullscreen and unmuted with the Talkmeister in focus.

  3. Pre-recorded Talk - Recording source fullscreen with the Jitsi scene muted.

  4. Q&A - Grabber as source A and Jitsi as source B with one of the picture-in-picture layouts active. Jitsi unmuted. You select what is active on the stream by clicking on users in the Jitsi call.

  5. Loop - Set the stream state to Loop.

Running a Talk (Talkmeister)

The Talkmeister is responsible for introducing the talk and handling the question-and-answer session with the speaker.

Before you start:

  • The link for your talk’s Jitsi call is available from the individual talk page on the DebConf website, visible to the speaker and the volunteers working on the talk once they’re logged in.

  • Please do not give the Jitsi link to anyone not involved in the talk, as that effectively puts them “on stage” with you.

  • The Grabber source in Voctomix shows everything you see in VNC, so if the Grabber is selected, any changes made to the VNC viewer will be seen on the stream.

  1. Join the Jitsi room for the talk a few minutes before it starts, and coordinate with the speaker there.

  2. Connect to the Grabber machine via VNC. The video team recommends TigerVNC as the VNC viewer:

    $ sudo apt install tigervnc-viewer
    $ cp /etc/ssl/certs/DST_Root_CA_X3.pem ~/.vnc/x509_ca.pem
    $ xtigervncviewer -SecurityTypes X509Vnc grabber1.online.debconf.org
    
  3. The viewer will prompt you for the grabber password, and then give you access to the machine.

  4. Open the Q&A pad for the talk. You may need to exit the fullscreen view of the previous pad using F11.

  5. Increase the size to 190% so that it can be seen easily on stream.

  6. Press F11 to go back to full screen.

  7. If you are managing a BoF, and they are using Gobby, open Gobby on the Grabber (Applications -> Internet -> Gobby).

If you find the VNC viewer is slow or not updating your view of the grabber, you can start it with a compression level between 1 (little compression) and 6 (high compression):

$ xtigervncviewer -SecurityTypes X509Vnc -CompressLevel 5 grabber1.online.debconf.org

Review Video using SReview

For pre-recorded talks, only the Q&A section needs reviewing, while live talks require the entire talk being reviewed. SReview will combine the Q&A section with a pre-recorded talk if one is provided.

  1. Open review link provided by video team or in your email (for presenters)

  2. Watch the video in the center video player

  3. Find the start and end of the talk (when the presenter is introduced and when the presenter says goodbye) and mark them using the provided buttons

  4. Mark the video as reviewed with no issues

  5. Send for transcoding

  6. If there are issues with the video or audio:

    1. Enter the details on the review page and submit

    2. Alert the video team so that they can address it

  7. Potential issues with a talk:

    1. Video starts after the beginning of the talk

    2. Video ends before the end of the talk

    3. Audio is distorted or noisy and the presenter cannot be heard

    4. Video is black or the presenter/slides cannot be seen

Upstream documentation: https://salsa.debian.org/wouter/sreview/-/tree/main/docs#reviewing

Subtitles are done manually for DebConf: https://wiki.debian.org/Teams/DebConf/Video/Subtitles

Troubleshooting

General

  • Keep an eye on the IRC to track and respond to any potential problems.

  • Keep the streaming key copied or close at hand in case the live stream drops, to enter it fast.

  • Before the talk:

    • Make sure the session host and speaker are in the Jitsi room (via IRC for example)

    • Confirm that the file is loaded into the file player section of VoctoWeb.

  • Talk start:

    • If you press the wrong button while directing, you can correct it by applying the action you intended to perform afterwards. For example, if you switch to the wrong source, you can switch back to the correct one by clicking on the appropriate Fullscreen button

    • Don’t be afraid to tell the audience that there is a problem that you are working on. It’s better than having them frustrated and not sure what is going on.

    • You hear ‘the live stream has stopped’ when you are pretty sure it should not. Inform the speaker to wait, try start it again. If it keeps dropping, inform the video team to try find a work around.

Jitsi

Test Jitsi with a few people in a call. If it doesn’t work, try these options. From best to worst quality:

  • Use current Chrome, Chromium or Firefox.

  • Press More Actions -> Manage Video Quality to manage call quality, Try Low, or even Audio Only.

  • Turn off Outgoing Video.

  • Try a second device (Phone or tablet).

  • If that’s also having connection problems, try the cellular network, rather than WiFi.

  • Dial into Jitsi over the phone network.