How to create Shelter-in-place videos:
What didn’t work

There are a lot of musicians sheltered in place right now, meaning they can’t gig, they cant jam with others, and they can’t even get together to rehearse. Many have tried various means to put some video content on the net for all those stuck at home, with many people creating some great content!

Most of this comes in 2 forms:

  • Live Stream on Facebook Live, or similar, often of a single player or a couple of people getting together
  • Recorded videos of some kind, bands playing (in one place, while observing social distancing) or single players in their home “studio”

Since we released our first Shelter-in-place video (Hurricane), we have gotten a lot of questions about how we did this. A lot of you asked the question “What app are you using?”, thinking we might be playing and recording at the same time.

The Real-time problem

Doing multisite real-time recording from multiple internet-connected locations has the same issues as trying to Live Stream from multiple locations – even with the best internet speeds and connectivity, there will be a latency related to propagation delay — the time it takes for the words you speak to get sent to another player or watcher.

Example:

  • 2 trumpet players are trying to play together from mountain tops 1/4 mile away from each other
  • Player 1 starts playing, and the sound propagates to the other player — the speed of sound is 343 m/s (not including temp and humidity), so the sound gets to the other player 1.25 seconds later
  • Player 2 starts to play based on what he is hearing from Player 1, badly out of time.
This is an extreme example, just to demonstrate the principle. In reality, all sound takes some time to get from Point A to Point B:
  • Person talking to you 3 feet away ~ 2.5 ms
  • Guitar player rehearsing with you 15 feet away ~ 13ms

Our brains are actually really good at hearing this and (somewhat) interpreting it as distance. For example, if you are creating an audio mix, and add ~8-20 ms of delay, the delayed audio is increasingly perceived as distance, further away.

When using something like Zoom or GoToMeeting, or even a real-time multi-person app, the delay is occurring in your Internet connection. Even with really fast Internet connections (on both sides), the end to end delay from one player to another is (at best) 25-50 ms. If your Internet connection is poor, it can be far worse. Add Wifi, and its worse still — this means everyone should be on a direct-wired connection, which is near impossible for your tablet or smartphone and is also often difficult for most setups, except maybe a *long* cable from your router

Below are some examples, using Click tracks with various delay lengths added. 0ms is the original. Listen to each of the increasing delay clicks, where the 2nd click is getting further and further out of time with the original — on any real-time multi-person setup, this second click is *when* the remote players are hearing you play.

What about Jamkazam and other apps?

There are some Apps, like Jamkazam, that attempt to allow players to play together. All of these acknowledge the issues I noted above. They will say “we are working to make this latency-free”, but they can only control and optimize the hardware/software on each end-user, and have no ability to eliminate the propagation delays in the connection. They do make recommendations to minimize its effect, such as only doing this with all players on high-speed Internet connections, no Wifi, etc.

Most of these do allow you to “play together”, but your mileage may vary. Each time I have tried any of these, the results were far less than optimal, and felt (at best) “rhythmically sloppy”

If you decide to try them, I hope your results are better! Let us know how it works out!

Stay tuned!! Now that we told you how *not* to do it, we will post shortly on how we were able to do it.

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