How to stream Nuke over Zoom without lag

Nuke has been designed to make digital compositing a collaborative affair. Not only does it provide a powerful compositing workspace, it also has collaboration tools that help keep projects moving between different designers and reviewers. 

However, these tools are missing one crucial element; face-to-face connection. 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing quite like the experience of meeting face-to-face, whether that’s to share a meal or discuss an idea. If your team is working remotely, it’s likely you’re feeling the pinch of not being able to pop into the editing suite or conference room to review footage and discuss creative solutions to ever-evolving problems. 

So, is there a way to meet face-to-face with your team and recreate that creative flow state that you find during late-night brainstorms and final review meetings? 

The most obvious solution nearly everyone arrives at is Zoom. 

Zoom has become an essential workplace tool over the last year. Thanks to its ease of use and ability to host dozens of participants at once for live video meetings, people across nearly every industry have used Zoom to replace in-person meetings and keep their teams safe. 

This begs the question, can compositing teams working with Nuke recreate live editing sessions using Zoom’s face-to-face video calling and screen sharing features?

The Challenges of Streaming Nuke Over Zoom

The key problem with streaming Nuke over Zoom is that the platform just isn’t designed to stream professional compositing software. No plugins exist that will allow you to directly stream your workspace over Zoom, so we’re initially limited to Zoom’s screen sharing features when attempting to share a live editing workspace. 

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. And while Nuke may be a lot of things, it’s certainly not easy on a processor. 

When Zoom is forced to compete for resources against programs like Nuke, it will attempt to maintain functionality by downgrading video quality on one or both ends of the stream. While this can sometimes be enough to maintain a workable connection, it can still result in lag or loss of connection, frustrating everyone who’s trying to communicate efficiently. 

So, with these challenges in place, what makes streaming over Zoom so appealing to creative teams?

The primary reason is Zoom’s nearly universal use. Almost everyone has access to Zoom, so by streaming over Zoom, you eliminate the need for people to download and learn new software just to review a new composition edit. 

So, is it worthwhile to see if there are any workarounds that will allow you to stream your Nuke workspace over Zoom? Will they be powerful enough to show your work in full detail but simple enough to use for your least teach-savvy studio executive? 

We’ve compiled some common workarounds that creative teams can utilize to stream programs like Nuke over Zoom and examined how functional they are for the demands of teams both large and small.

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Common Workarounds to Stream Nuke over Zoom

  1. Two Systems and OBS:

For this workaround you’ll need two separate screens, but ideally, two separate CPUs for best performance. You’ll also need a broadcasting program like OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) and an NDI (network device interface).

NewTek makes an NDI which you can download here

First, download your NDI to the system running Nuke. Once installed, open both the NDI and Nuke, then begin broadcasting your screen using the NDI. 

Next, download OBS to your second CPU. Open OBS and set your first input source as the feed broadcasting from your NDI. OBS should now receive a live feed of your Nuke workspace.

Last, open Zoom and set OBS as your camera and audio source. This will turn the screen that usually features your webcam into a live feed of your Nuke workspace.  

This workaround will allow you to broadcast Nuke 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. 

This is an external device that can be somewhat costly, but if you plan on using it regularly, you may be able to justify the expense. 

To use it, plug it into the system running Nuke using an HDMI cable. Then run the signal back out to the system running Zoom using a second cable. You’ll still need to download OBS to receive the signal and broadcast it to Zoom, which you can do following the final step above. 

  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 screen running Nuke, then 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. 

So the first question is, do these workarounds work? Yes, they technically do, but in real-world use they lack consistency and quality. 

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 Nuke with Evercast

Evercast is a platform designed to make streaming professional-grade compositing programs like Nuke feel like sitting together in an editing suite. 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. 

Evercast allows you to stream your workspace in full HD with ultra-low latency (less than 150ms on average). So you can show your work in its full glory without jerks, jumps, pixilation, or delays. 

In addition to chatting in real-time, Evercast supports on-screen annotation, allowing you to visually indicate exactly what parts of the frame need corrections. When participants make text notes in the chat, Evercast timestamps each note so you can quickly reference the exact frames that were being discussed. 

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 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 remote collaboration starts with software that works with your team, not against it.

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