How to stream AVID Pro Tools over Zoom

As any great audio engineer knows, sound isn’t so much about individual notes or sounds but about how they flow together. The same can be said about creative teams. Of course, each person is important, but the magic behind a great creative team is how they flow together during collaboration sessions. 

That magic has been hard to recreate in the age of social distancing and remote work. 

Trying to collaborate with your team members remotely while working on a project often means sending draft after draft back and forth, receiving multiple different sets of notes, and trying to keep it all organized somehow. 

There has to be a better way, right? What if you could stream your Pro Tools editing workflow while chatting face to face through one of the most popular video conferencing platforms? 

Zoom has become a nearly universal platform that many people use daily to connect with their co-workers, so is there a way to stream your editing workspace over Zoom and replicate the experience of sitting in the editing room together? 
We’ll examine some common workarounds and see if they can meet the needs of creative teams and the demands of the Pro Tools platform. 

What’s The Problem With Streaming AVID Pro Tools Over Zoom?

Put simply; Zoom just isn’t designed to stream professional editing workspaces like AVID Pro Tools. Instead, it’s a simple video conferencing platform that is perfectly suited for basic conversations or web page and document screen-sharing. But when it comes to CPU-heavy programs like Pro Tools, Zoom is just not set up to succeed. 

Even Zoom admits to its struggles in this area:

“When using the option to share your desktop or an application, the video resolution is dependent upon CPU usage, screen resolution, graphics card, and OS graphic system capabilities. Additionally, when a video is larger than 1080p, Zoom automatically downgrades the resolution to 1080p (or 720p) to optimize the content while minimizing the required bandwidth. Depending on how the video is shared, such as sharing a specific application or sharing only a portion of your screen, it may require additional CPU resources, which can further affect the overall quality of both the video share and the meeting for the user who is sharing.”

While this focuses heavily on video, Pro Tools is still a CPU-heavy program that doesn’t play well with the already CPU-heavy Zoom platform. Trying to run both together and expecting a seamless experience means working against the limits of the program. 

However, Zoom is a ubiquitous program, and most people use it daily, so wanting to utilize this already-familiar program to collaborate with your editing team is something many people will attempt to do. If your creative team is insisting on attempting to collaborate over Zoom, there are a few workarounds you can attempt. 

Here Are a Few Things You Can Try:

  1. If you have two screens, ideally two systems, and enough processing power, you can use OBS and an NDI to stream your workplace over Zoom. This is an especially tricky workaround with Pro Tools because, unlike AVID Media Composer, Pro Tools does not enable an NDI plug-in, so you’ll have to download a screen-sharing NDI like NewTek’s Screen Capture. This streaming system requires a ton of processing power, setup time, and for people watching over Zoom, the feed isn’t always reliable. 
  1. If you’re not comfortable setting up an NDI, a much lower-tech option is to simply grab a second webcam and point it at your screen with the workspace on it. You can then either directly stream that to Zoom or use OBS to arrange it as one of your sources before streaming it to Zoom.  This method has some obvious drawbacks. The first is that the image quality of a webcam pointed at a screen will be less than ideal. Second, depending on your camera’s resolution, this can also still be a rather CPU-heavy option that results in lag and delays for viewers. Lastly, because we’re working in Pro Tools here, audio quality is a huge factor, and this solution does not provide a high-quality audio experience. If you can source the sound directly from the program and into Zoom, you’ll likely have sync issues. On the other hand, if you try to source the sound from your built-in microphone, you’ll get tinny or faint audio. 

Ok, so we’ve talked a lot about what kind of works, but what about a platform that’s purpose-built to stream these processor-heavy editing suites with almost no lag? If you’re a creative team who’s trying to get “in the zone” like you used to do during editing sessions in the studio, glitchy workarounds are doing your team a disservice and can block the flow of creativity. 

There is, however, a platform that has been purpose-built for creative teams who want to live stream their editing sessions while chatting face-to-face with their creative team in real-time: Evercast. 

Streaming AVID Pro Tools with Evercast

Evercast requires no special workarounds, no additional software, and no complex setup to work seamlessly with Pro Tools. 

Evercast allows you to stream your workspace in full HD with low latency (on average, less than 150ms). This means less lag and more natural conversation between you and your team. It also allows all participants to make notes and even draw on the screen with accurate timestamps, so everything stays organized. 

You can also stream multiple media sources with ease, so for example, if you’re mastering the audio for a film, you can effortlessly switch from AVID Pro Tools to Media Composer and back to demo the new sounds in the final cut. 

Create together remotely, in real time

Securely stream work sessions in up to 4K, video chat with your team, and collaborate live—all in one place.
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It all works within the Evercast platform, which means it’s less demanding of CPU power as well. And for participants that simply join meetings, they don’t need to download any additional software, so they can collaborate from any device, anywhere. 

If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote editing team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. We believe collaboration is the magic behind the movies, and better collaboration starts with software that works with your team, not against it.

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