How to stream Blender over Zoom without lag

It may take a village to raise a kid, but it can take a small army to create an immersive animated world. So in the world of remote work, if you’re finding it difficult to connect with your animation team, you’re not alone

Remote work has splintered creative teams. Instead of working in separate editing suites in a central office, many animators, post-production supervisors, and VFX artists suddenly find themselves working from a home desk that their cat is still convinced was stolen from them. 

Initially, the quiet may have been a welcome reprieve, but the challenges begin to mount when you want to receive feedback and approvals from other members of your team. 

Instead of being able to drag someone over to the screen for a few moments to give notes, you now need to go through an arduous process of sending project exports or clips back and forth between different members of your team. This results in a chaotic backlog of vague email notes to keep track of as you try to efficiently apply the revisions.  

It’s no wonder that so many creative teams, from small indie game creators to major animation studios, are looking to recreate the feeling of the editing room where everyone could gather together and look at the most recent edits in real-time, contributing notes and having a conversation about changes as they are happening. 

The first solution that nearly everyone considers is Zoom. 

Zoom has become an essential workplace tool because of its general ease of use and ability to host dozens of participants at once for live meetings. So, since all of your co-collaborators likely already have it installed on their devices, is it possible to stream your Blender workspace over Zoom while video chatting with your team? 

The Challenges of Streaming Blender Over Zoom

To quickly summarize, Zoom just isn’t designed to stream professional animation software. There are no built-in plugins that will allow you to stream directly from your Blender workspace, which means you’ll need to use additional software, hardware, or both to stream your workspace through Zoom. 

That’s not the only challenge. Zoom itself demands a significant amount of processing power, which is bad news when it has to compete against other CPU-heavy programs during a video call. 

When Zoom is forced to compete for resources against other CPU and graphics-heavy programs like Blender, it will attempt to balance the load by downgrading the quality of the stream on one or both ends. This can result in a loss of video quality, lag, and total application crashes. 

These challenges are not insignificant, but there are some major benefits to using Zoom as well. The key benefit is how universal the Zoom platform has become. Nearly everyone already has it installed on their computer and knows how to operate it, which means for your less tech-savvy team members, that’s one major hurdle already cleared. 

So, is it worthwhile to see if there are any workarounds that will allow you to stream your Blender workspace over Zoom? We’ll dive into some workarounds that have been used by creative teams and see if they deliver the performance needed for a live review session.

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Common Workarounds to Stream Blender over Zoom

  1. If you have two separate screens and ideally two separate CPU systems, you can use a broadcasting platform like OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) and an NDI (network device interface) to stream Blender over Zoom. 

NewTek makes an NDI which you can download here. You’ll want to download it to the system that’s running Blender. Once installed, open both the NDI and Blender, then begin broadcasting your screen using the NDI. On the second system, which will run Zoom and OBS, open OBS and set your input as the feed from your NDI. OBS can now receive a live feed of your Blender workspace and funnel it into Zoom. 

This workaround will allow you to stream your Blender workspace over Zoom as you edit. Unfortunately, it won’t necessarily solve the Zoom downgrade issue, as OBS is also a relatively CPU-heavy program that will be competing with Zoom during the stream. 

  1. If you have two separate systems and don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up an NDI, you can purchase a capture card that can receive the signal from one system and broadcast it to a second. Just like the previous workaround, you’ll need OBS or similar software to receive the signal and funnel it into Zoom. 

  1. If you don’t feel like learning the ins and outs of installing, connecting, and streaming an NDI feed, don’t want to use OBS, and don’t want to shell out big bucks for an expensive capture card, you can use this lower-tech workaround. 

Get an external webcam, point it at your computer running Blender, and stream the webcam feed to Zoom as your video input. This will solve some of the Zoom downgrade issues, as most webcams stream in 1080p; however, the video quality of a webcam pointed at a screen is hardly the HD experience you may be looking for. 

Also, you won’t be able to stream your face simultaneously unless you run both webcams through OBS first to combine them into a single video feed. 

All of these workarounds will technically work. Your collaborators will get at least the live video feed from your editing session and be able to comment as you make changes. However, neither system provides a perfect, low-latency, HD stream of your workstation that you can rely on 100% to deliver a seamless streaming experience. 

If you want a truly seamless experience, you’ll need a purpose-built system for creative teams and their HD workspaces. Thankfully, there is a platform built specifically for your needs: Evercast. 

Streaming Blender with Evercast

Unlike Zoom, Evercast is purpose-built to make streaming professional-grade animation platforms like Blender. In fact, the platform was designed specifically by creatives for creatives so you can work as a team no matter where in the world you may be. 

Because you don’t want anything getting between you and your creative flow state, the platform requires a simple one-time setup and no additional software to enjoy a seamless, real-time editing and collaboration session every single time.  

Want to get feedback on the tiny details of your latest character design? Evercast has you covered, allowing you to stream your workspace in full HD with ultra-low latency (less than 150ms on average). So whether you’re trying to fine-tune character movements or make sure that the lighting hits just right at every angle, you can show your work in its full glory without jerks, jumps, pixilation, or delays. 

This ultra-low latency is as close to natural conversation and editing as you can get. This is great because you’ll be able to video chat as you edit, so you can say goodbye to misinterpreting the notes from that one team member who ends every email in an ellipse. 

In addition to chatting in real-time, on-screen annotation and timestamped notes allow each participant to add their two cents while keeping everything organized and frame-accurate. 

And for your less tech-savvy participants, they’ll be relieved to know that they don’t have to download any additional software to participate in a meeting. Just follow the link and join from any device, anywhere in the world. 

If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote animation team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. We believe real-time collaboration is the key to unlocking your best ideas, and better collaboration starts with software that works with your team, not against it.

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