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Spending time on calls with self-hosted servers, we sometimes run into problems which seem to be caused by the systems being overloaded with content. The call might be fine with three or four video streams, but start becoming unstable with more.

Webcams+browsers seem to push the user towards streaming in the highest quality possible.

I began experimenting with how I could reduce the amount of data I'm streaming out with the video, whilst still keeping a video.

I have been using OBS to set up custom scenes, with a few settings really reduced.

In settings:

I haven't managed to test this extensively yet, but it does seem to help with stability as far as I can tell. These settings are also quite extreme, and there probably isn't the need to go quite so far.

In the spirit of permacomputing though, it feels like a valid experiment. I've also experimented with adding a dithered overlay.

Using webcamtest.com I could compare some details:

_DefaultOBS reduced
PNG size775kb347b

The bitrate value is 275x smaller in this comparison. I have a feeling some platforms might further modify the content as it goes through their systems i.e. scaled up...

type url description
image webcam.png screenshot of webcam test.

categories: tools web social permacomputing

~gg 02/23