Last night, about 225 people gathered for songs and stories. In the
spirit of putting in a ridiculous amount of effort to keep doing
normal things in abnormal times, a group of friends built a platform
where we could listen together, and sing together, as we do every
year. This was the biggest gathering
Bucket Brigade has handled, and
with the vaccines being distributed now it may be the largest it ever
If you missed it, Rachel made a recording of most of the service:
And here are the recordings Bucket Brigade made:
Since the majority of people were in the final bucket for each song,
these recordings have many more voices than you would have been able
to hear live. They don't include anyone who failed calibration,
clicked "don't let anyone hear me", or muted themself.
Each song was a pre-recorded backing video, with the audience singing along
live (example backing
While Glenn and I had been working on Bucket Brigade since early
July, we only got to something that could plausibly have handled
this crowd in mid-November.
Even then, we had a disastrous first live stress test where the server
fell over at ~38 people because of differences between are simulated
testing and real users. We made our automated stress testing more
realistic, but last night Bucket Brigade was handling 10 times more real
users than it had before.
I ran sound during the event, adjusting all of the different volumes.
(I want to give a special thanks to Elizabeth: over the past month
she has been my hands
when working on bucket brigade, and the mixing console would not have
been possible without her.) What took most of my time was listening
to people who had chosen to sing early in the brigade and making sure
they were singing accurately enough that they weren't going to confuse
the people who came later. In a normal group people are able to listen
to each other and self correct, but in a chain like this the first few
users need to be right together or else everyone later will not know
who to match.
Looking at the logs from the event, we can see that during the songs
we had a little over 200 people connected the Bucket Brigade at once:
The biggest thing that I was worried about was users having choppy
audio. If the network can't keep up with audio at the rate we are
sending it, if the computer is not fast enough to handle
encoding/decoding opus audio in JS, or if almost anything else goes
wrong, the user will miss a chunk of audio. I analyzed the logs to
figure out how often this happened, and while it was happening to some
people, most users in most songs did not have any issues:
Two major limitations of this data are that it will not include users
who weren't able to get it to work ever, perhaps because they have did
not have a supported browser or device, and that users who were having
a bad time were probably more likely to give up. I would like to
figure out more about why it worked and didn't work for people, and
whether there is anything we can do about it.
If you would like to try using Bucket Brigade for singing over the
internet, the code is open source and there is a publicly available
instance anyone can use. The
stand-alone UI is not anywhere near as nice as what Daniel and Taymon
built for Solstice, but that's something I'd like to fix over the next
few weeks now that I've seen how nice it can be.
Comment via: facebook
I think it's probably worth highlighting Rachel's upload of the 500 Million / Brighter Than Today video. This failed to play during the solstice event due to a bug, but is the culmination of ton of work by lots of different people.
This may have failed for some subset of attendees, but it played successfully for me, and I remember it as a highlight of the solstice.
Wait, really? Are you highly confident you're thinking of this video, and not the similarly-styled Beautiful Tomorrow video?As far as I knew, this video didn't play for anybody -- I don't think it loaded for any of the organizers.
Not highly confident. Maybe it was only the audio?
Does Jim mean that the audio played? I think everyone got audio but no video.
The first 5 min (that actually played, whereas the second half didn't) where also among my highlights.
Well, the audio from the whole thing played, none of the video played (that I saw). I am curious if Jim saw the video in the second half.
I love this so much!!! This is my favorite solstice song, and an excellent way to share it.
Thank you so much for making this tool. It was an amazing experience and I'm so glad I was able to feel as connected to the songs as I was. And I'm so proud of this community for going above and beyond in building new solutions to problems instead of just trying to adapt existing tools to a new use case.
This was great.
Thank you for the video.