Live Jitsi

The Problem

If you are using a video conferencing platform and want to have a lot of people attending you probably want to only have a few speakers and a lot of viewers - in a real life conference you normally have a few people up on stage and perhaps a few roving microphones for questions. If you are using a platform where everybody is equal you may have noticed that there is the issue of people who are supposed to just be viewing can still, often accidentally, interrupt the call because their mic is on. Worse, if you haven’t made your meeting sufficiently private, such as by password protecting it, you may encounter this month’s horrible - Zoom bombing. Finally there is the issue of cost, which is always going to be high for a massive everyone-to-everyone case because the processing power required to encode many video streams as well as the bandwidth to send and receive them is big. I present here a different way of doing thing which, as I write, is free, gives just a few people access to the live mic and allows as many people as you like to watch.

Live streaming a small conversation

The solution is actually quite easy and free if you can cope with a little bit of lag on the broadcast (those in the conversation don’t have any). First you need a YouTube account with live streaming enabled, then head over to YouTube Studio and click Create, then Go Live:

Create - Go Live

You need to create a new stream, not a webcam stream:

Create Stream

On the next page you just need to copy the stream key (you probably want to select low latency in the stream latency section just below it):

Copy the stream key

Then head over to Jitsi and start a new meeting:

Start a new meeting

Invite the other people who you want in the meeting to the same link - there is no software to install but (at the moment) Chrome works best as a browser. Once everyone is ready to go you can start streaming:

Start live stream

Enter your live stream key from YouTube, click Start live stream:

Start live stream

At this point if you switch back to YouTube studio you will soon find your Jitsi meeting being previewed and a helpful big message on the top right telling you to press the GO LIVE button.

YouTube Studio - Go Live

Now you can share your live stream using the share button on the top right menu bar Youtube share button.

That’s it, just end the stream when you are done.

A note on latency

When I have used this the lag from something happening in the Jitsi meeting to it appearing on YouTube is ~10 seconds when YouTube Studio is set to low latency. Don’t expect your audience to react immediately.