Our first meetup was a success – it seems the audience liked it, and from my point of view, the stream setup was easy to use and we didn’t break it even once while the stream is running. Due to a few requests, I’m documenting our setup so that others can build on it and host their own virtual events with ease.
We couldn’t have got this right the first time if not with the valuable input from Dist, Jaroneko, and whois, who had prior experience in working with streams and setting up advanced features and bots on a Discord server. (For me, this was my first time streaming anything.)
The basic setup was:
Zoom meeting --> OBS --> Twitch
User roles in the Zoom call:
Let’s look at these in detail.
We got a paid Zoom account so that we can run meetings longer than the 40 minutes on the free version. We likely got other useful features as well (I never hosted Zoom previously so I don’t know). I scheduled a basic Zoom meeting and sat on it with my streaming PC for the duration of the stream, as did whois the meetup host. By default, Zoom places call participants in a “waiting room” and can only be admitted to the call by the call host – so that while we were live with the stream, none of us who had the call details could just accidentally crash in the meeting.
The OBS setup was central to running the whole stream. It provided content to the Twitch stream at all times. OBS has a concept called “scenes”. An OBS scene has a number of sources which it mixes into an output. For example, the scene that had the presenter talking and presenting slides, the scene contained the following sources:
We had a few other scenes as well:
We made switching screens quite simple. When a presentation was over, I switched the current scene to show the meetup schedule (static screen, no audio capture from the zoom call). Then, the new presenter joined the Zoom call and started the screen share, so that the layout within the Zoom call window matched the one layout we had to decorate the content. Then, when the presenter and host (whois) were ready I switched to the scene capturing Zoom window & audio. This was fully manual of course and I only had to keep a close eye on the Zoom call not breaking during presentations, and switching scenes between the presentations (and admitting the new presenters to the call).
There were a few gotchas while setting up the scenes:
The reason everything worked smoothly during the stream was that we actually tested and practiced everything before the actual event. We developed and tested the setup with our stream task force whois, Dist, and Jaroneko, and one of the presenters (joohoi) who happened to be around, a few nights before the meetup. Then, one night before the virtual meetup, I urged every presenter to do comms check with us when we thought we had the stream setup done. I asked every presenter to test screen share and video and do some talking while I took a local recording (an OBS feature) and checked that audio and video did indeed work nominally by checking the recording. (The local recording should look like the actual stream output.) During the comms checks I also tested the scene transitions. IMO doing a separate comms check is absolutely necessary – you all know how every zoom/Teams/google hangout meeting always starts with the “can you hear me? It should work? Oops I was on mute” and we didn’t want that on a live stream.
Also, we had Q&A sessions after the presentations. We had a Discord bot flagging and picking specially formatted questions from one text chat into another. Then, at the end of each presentation, whois the meetup host had all questions for the presenters nicely in one place so that he could present the questions.
Finally, the afterparty was a blast! We couldn’t do a virtual meetup without an attempt to have a virtual afterparty – a HelSec event without an afterparty is like a keyboard without mechanical switches.
The Discord server we built for this and future HelSec events in itself was an awesome setup built with love by members Dist and Jaroneko and will be documented in a future post.
Contact us if you need help running your own virtual meetups!