TimVideos Sprints and Linux.conf.au 2015 Debrief
Carl enjoying a drink after a long flight
When he boarded the plane in San Francisco, Google Summer of Code mentor Carl knew he was going to miss one of the world’s most well-documented annual events. It was New Year’s Eve and thanks to the international dateline, Carl would arrive in Auckland, New Zealand (aka Middle Earth) on the morning of January 2. While he was sacrificing his chance to capture the fireworks, the work that Carl and a team of GSoC mentors and students were converging to tackle would empower others to record something more enduring than those sky sparkles.
When he arrived in the “land of the long white cloud” Carl met with Rohit and Ajit, two GSoC 2014 students who had travelled even further but in the opposite direction, leaving from India. Rohit was venturing overseas for the first time. In the following days, the group was joined by GSoC 2015 student Aayush, also from India, and GSoC mentor Tim, from Australia.
Rohit (sitting) and Ajit (standing) unpacking hardware at Catalyst IT
The GSoC participants and many others involved in the TimVideos.us project were converging for a week-long coding sprint ahead of the Linux.conf.au conference, where they would put their work to the test with video capture and streaming.
TimVideos.us is a group of projects that create a system for doing both recording and live streaming for presentations at events such as conferences, meetups, and user groups. The projects include both open source software and open source hardware development. The aim is to reduce the costs and expertise required to produce live streaming events to near zero. One of the major goals for the project over the past two years has been to replace an old standard definition system based on end-of-life hardware with a new, high definition, completely FOSS solution.
Thanks to the massive effort of GSoC students in 2013 and 2014, and with help from many other volunteers, the projects were getting close to serving their intended purpose. The sprinters hoped to get the tools to the stage where they could start experimenting with them during the conference.
GSoC students had been fundamental in getting the systems ready, so it made sense to give GSoC students the opportunity to use their code and hardware in the high-stress environment of a conference. There’s nothing like a trial by fire.
People working hard on code.
Ajit (foreground) trying to understand his own code, Dave (background) updating his music play track.
Tim (foreground) and Aayush (background) working on a hard problem
The sprint was extremely productive, the group sent 54 pull requests and closed 27 issues. The sprints focused on two of the TimVideos projects:
gst-switch, a software video mixer based around gstreamer.
After the sprints the conference began, and the real challenges with it. Given the importance of ensuring video was actually captured, the team set up the old, proven pipeline.
Linux.conf.au is the biggest FOSS conference in the Oceania region and attracts people from around the world, including luminaries such as Linus Torvalds. The conference is in a different city each year, generally in Australia but occasionally in New Zealand as in 2015. While travelling from Australia to New Zealand is relatively easy for Australians, the extra cost of a passport can mean some aren’t able to attend, so live streaming was provided to allow those people to view the proceedings.
Ajit (foreground) manning a video capture desk at [Linux.conf.au](http://linux.conf.au/)
Our three GSoC students enjoying the conference dinner (from left, Rohit, Ajit, Aayush)
Many of the conference talks are important to the FOSS community globally, so the presentations are all recorded and shared freely under a CC-BY-SA license. Reliable, high quality recordings are important to facilitate this sharing. They are all freely available on the Linux.conf.au 2015 YouTube channel or via the Linux.org.au mirror.
A number of organisations came together to facilitate this work. There was funding from Linux.conf.au, Google Conference grants for the GSoC students, a venue provided by Catalyst IT and a donation from Tim. These folks deserve a huge thank you for making such awesomeness possible.
The complete TimVideos team (from left, back - Aayush, Tim, Joel, Leon, Rohit, Michael, front - Ryan, Ajit, Carl)