Google Hangout Performance Piece – Testing Round One

So i created three g+ accounts and had each join the same hangout with three computers in the same room all with webcams and a microphone, and yeah, the concept worked like a charm. All i had to do was snap my fingers a bunch and all of the cams would be switching back and forth pretty randomly.

(This is a follow up to the piece of music i want to write based on this blog post. This is also more of a workbench entry as opposed to a real entry because i’m still sorting out a bunch of stuff in my head.)

In order for the piece to really be effective, there needs to be a minimum of four accounts logged into the hangout – three that are picking up the video and audio signal and one that’s being used as a broadcaster. The reason for this is because one station never chooses to display its own video as the primary video pickup, so in my three station setup, station A only ever swapped back and forth between B and C, station B only ever swapped back and forth between A and C, &c. Having three receiving setups makes for a more interesting video presentation, and really it would be better if there were five or six, but i don’t want to spend that much money on this project – yet.

An important thing that i discovered was that the actual computer volume had to be down almost all the way or muted or else the feedback loop even from a single snap would build to clipping levels. But if those hangout sessions have muted audio, then the video never swaps, so the hangout machines need to be picking up audio signal even if they don’t need to broadcast it.

What that means practically is that i can’t really have any audio coming from the hangout session getting fed through a system that also outputs that signal which means that if there’s going to be any audio manipulation then it needs to happen outside of the hangout session context or any of the computers that are being used for it. Again, maybe for this particular performance, i don’t try to make it that complicated – maybe just have a CD playing in the background with sound effects that will hopefully *not* trigger the google hangout video swapping and have the live performer be completely dry.

Or, maybe i can have the background track sometimes put forth stuff that’s meant to jar the google hangout as checkpoints.


Leave a Reply!