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Author Topic: Online live sessions  (Read 1314 times)

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Mcgrooger

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Online live sessions
« on: March 19, 2020, 09:18:15 AM »

Has anyone got any suggestions how it might be possible to run a music session online? My wife and I use Skype to talk to our family in different parts of the world but so far we've only had 3 devices connected albeit in England, Japan and The Netherlands.  Sometimes the connection isn't great at which point we'd ditch the video and just use sound. I participated in a yoga class this week which our teacher ran via Zoom but it wasn't really interactive. The family also make extensive use of Whatsapp but again it doesn't lend itself to group activities such as music sessions.
Any clever suggestions? Anyone done it before?
Sorry in advance to Theo if this isn't the best place for this thread!
Steve aka Mcg
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2020, 09:39:43 AM »

Realistically I don't believe that online synchronised play is going to work, just due to latency between the devices and how it will always affect someone. Even if you had perfect internet, the process of recording audio+video (or even just audio) typically will use a buffer of some kind, which means it waits to fill up eg 50ms of audio, then encode and transmit it. And, we don't have perfect internet, so, that adds even more delay. It's ok when the communication takes turns, like in a phone call, but if you eg sing a song and the person on the other end joins, you, the original singer, will hear them delayed by quite a large amount.

So, I'm afraid I don't think there's any kind of viable communal way to do this kind of thing live and have everyone be an equal participant.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2020, 09:51:51 AM »

I have been wondering about the possibility of smaller groups of people having individuals contribute their individual parts to a tune so that you end up with an arrangement that could be mixed down into a band recording. Professionals do this, how hard can it be ("erm....but they have studios")?

If everyone made their contribution as dry as feasible, in a domestic situation it could work ok.
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2020, 10:57:58 AM »

I've been looking at the possibilities too, for joint rehearsals or for online sessions.  Most of the recent attempts to set up sessions seem actually just to involve the collation and transmission of individual recordings.  Nothing wrong with that, but you won't get the live feel, or perhaps the audience.

Friends have pointed me to various useful links, which you might like to check out:

https://jammr.net/
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/remote-collaboration
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/online-band-practices-possible/

I joined the free version of jammr.  This neutralises the latency issue, but of course it does it by delaying different channels of the mix, meaning you produce an in-sync recording, but it then has to be transmitted back to each listener.

The other sites contain suggestions about the feasibility of low-latency real-time meetings.  I've tried this with a friend with the Zoom meetings software, but no, it's still an intractable problem for musicians IMO, as Gena says.  However one useful feature of this is that Zoom would allow others to see the music, lyrics, or whatever, that the lead performer is using.

What I've been interested in is the prospect of a sort of half-way house, for sessions, with one controller.  The concept might be that contributors could listen to one performer, and contribute to their performance, and the resulting de-lagged mix could be sent to all listeners by the controller.  It wouldn't be real time, but the transmission lag could be less than a second, which might be acceptable to a 'live' listener.  I don't think jammr is up to this yet, but I may be wrong.  The difficulty seems to me to be that the controller would need very quickly to put together the inputs of others, almost in real time, and transmit it again seamlessly, but I don't think the software is that advanced.  Any comments, anyone?
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Anahata

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2020, 11:21:21 AM »

What I've been interested in is the prospect of a sort of half-way house, for sessions, with one controller.  The concept might be that contributors could listen to one performer, and contribute to their performance, and the resulting de-lagged mix could be sent to all listeners by the controller.

The controller will receive the contributions with different delays, and would require some massive processing (and guesswork in some cases) to synchronise them.
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Roger Hare

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2020, 04:32:34 PM »

This thread is currently active on concertina.net:

https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/22128-playing-together-across-an-internet-connection/

The consensus seems to be tending towards the conclusion that this is not a viable proposition?
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Mcgrooger

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2020, 04:40:47 PM »

Can't say I'm surprised about the latency issues. Failing live playing what do people reckon is the best way of sharing recordings for those who don't have YT cannels and the like?
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Anahata

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2020, 06:27:06 PM »

What's happening somewhere on Facebook is a "viral session" where participants are simply uploading their own tunes and songs for the entertainment of others, without any attempt at high-tech synchronisation. I'm not on Facebook so I don't know much about the details, but Mary is and has been posting links to videos that we've made.
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Lester

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2020, 07:03:53 PM »

What's happening somewhere on Facebook is a "viral session" where participants are simply uploading their own tunes and songs for the entertainment of others, without any attempt at high-tech synchronisation. I'm not on Facebook so I don't know much about the details, but Mary is and has been posting links to videos that we've made.


Viral Tune Swap
https://www.facebook.com/groups/670435983731956/

Anahata

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2020, 11:56:15 PM »

Thanks Lester. Members only  :(
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2020, 11:39:08 AM »

I've seen a suggestion recently that people can join a club where everyone watches the same posted videos simultaneously, but I would have thought it would still lose the interactive feel of a live session, which to my mind would be the main point of this.  I am advised that Microsoft Team works well for video conferencing of meetings with lots of people, but latency is of course much less of an issue for speech.  It must also have some way of suppressing audio input which might give rise to weird echoes, like mobile phone or skype conversations.

re Anahata's 'massive processing' comment, I don't know how jammr does this, but it claims to produce a latency free mix.  I assume that the processing of sound within one's own computer is either negligible or is neutralised by its automatic known delay compensation, however that works.  I know recording software can do this.  I envisaged either some manual or automatic initial 'ping' test, or perhaps manual adjustment, assuming the latency from a given caller is constant (I don't know how good an assumption this would be).
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Anahata

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2020, 02:03:28 PM »

I assume that the processing of sound within one's own computer is either negligible or is neutralised by its automatic known delay compensation, however that works.  I know recording software can do this.  I envisaged either some manual or automatic initial 'ping' test, or perhaps manual adjustment, assuming the latency from a given caller is constant (I don't know how good an assumption this would be).

Yes, recording software can do two things: (a) provide a means to measure latency though your inputs and outputs and (b) knows the latency of plugins so if channels in a mix have varying amounts of processing, delay can be added to those with less processing delay so all channels in a mix are still in sync.

Yes, I suppose a remote system could attempt to measure the delay and get a result considerably better than not doing so. I hadn't thought of that.

Fay Hield is apparently trying to set up a real-time online singaround using Zoom software. I'm out of my depth here, but it will be interesting to see what happens.
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Mcgrooger

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2020, 03:51:23 PM »

Thanks Lester. Members only  :(
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I've less desire to get into the Facebook club than the 007!  8)
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Graham Wood

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2020, 06:40:43 PM »

Have done something similar between me and a singer but we used a telephone landline with speaker phones on. At the same time we used two iPads and FaceTime with the sound off for visual feedback. It actually worked quite well although the sound quality was not up to much. There was no lag whatsoever and we achieved what we wanted in working out a song. You can get get 3 way teleconferencing I think, but more than this and you have to use a commercial conferencing bridge provider which costs money.

Using the internet is out of the question because of latency issues. Video takes up a lot of bandwidth and even without video you would still have big problems. The only way around it is a central internet hub that takes input from satellite stations, matches timecodes, and then feeds the processed amalgamated signal back to the satellite stations. I am not aware of any software that does this though.
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2020, 06:49:40 PM »

Anahata, I recognise that some compromise in the idea will be needed, and this might kill it.  It seems to me that before someone leads a song or tune, the other members will need to decide who wants to play along, and who wants just to listen.  Players then would receive the lead player's channel, and nothing else.  Their contributions, and those of others, would be adjusted for lag, and then mixed by the controller and sent to all listeners, with a slight delay, and to listeners it would sound pretty similar to a normal session.  The snag is that all other players would hear only the lead and their own contribution, not the full mix.  Sure, they could hear it as a recording later, but they would have to forgo the fun of all playing together.  I don't think this would be very popular.  However the idea of a near-live round-the-room virtual session, with individual performers only, might work, with the right technology.
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Dick Rees

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2020, 08:01:41 PM »

The closest thing is probably the good old "mix minus" used in broadcasting.  As far as compensation for latency induced delay, it's virtually (sic) impossible for internet-based transmission due to unpredictably variable routing.  Even with traditional hard-wired links it is maybe comparable to developing a geo-located, atomic clock timed purpose-built network.

Hard enough to make it work for remote lessons, likely impossible for "reel-time" jamming for coordinating more than two locations. 
« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 08:06:32 PM by Dick Rees »
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Mcgrooger

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2020, 09:03:38 PM »

It's sounding like we'll be following our fellow band member Fiona's idea to have a live session in the open air with plenty of physical spacing on Kendal Green when/if the weather warms up!
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2020, 09:06:44 PM »

It's sounding like we'll be following our fellow band member Fiona's idea to have a live session in the open air with plenty of physical spacing on Kendal Green when/if the weather warms up!

We're sort of kicking around the idea of dancing the sun up on may morning...with broomsticks.
I don't think we'll dare, though.
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Anahata

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2020, 08:48:04 AM »

Fay Hield is apparently trying to set up a real-time online singaround using Zoom software. I'm out of my depth here, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

This happened last night. I can confirm that a real time session would be out of the question. Joining in with choruses was chaotic until we adopted the protocol of muting everyone except the main singer; then we could join in but there's a limit to how loud you can sing or play along when the sound is coming from an iPad or phone.

Socially it was a success - great to see friends we may not see face to face for months, and to play and sing and hear others do the same for a couple of hours in real time. But for a musically satisfying experience I think you might be better off playing along to a solo YouTube or SoundCloud performance, and recording and uploading the result. Some people have done this on YouTube. It's more of a collaborative recording project than a session, but it's quite fun and an efficient way of disposing of excess spare time.
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Nigel

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Re: Online live sessions
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2020, 09:45:37 AM »

North East Melodeon Group had our first zoom session yesterday. 6 people attended. Synchronised playing was reasonable but the sound quality particularly depended on transmission quality - we tested each player in turn. Our own Mel Biggs led a tutorial where she led and we played whilst muted. She stopped at appropriate stages to test and check things. We kept going for 2.5 hours. It was fun. It keeps us in contact. We'll continue with Mel and Paul Young will join us, hopefully later, our Dave Gray. We're paying the pros - need to keep them going! Next session is on 27 March.           
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