How to stream Unity over Zoom without lag

Who hasn’t dreamt of creating a new world from scratch? One where you can design characters that explore never-before-seen environments and do things that defy the realm of possibility? Cue Unity, the most popular video game engine in the world. 

In essence, Unity provides built-in features (aka the foundation) to build a spectacular digital world. We’re talking about game physics, collision detection, and 2D/3D rendering, just to name just a few. You can even play in virtual and augmented reality sandboxes. No matter your level of experience, Unity gives you the ability to create a new game engine from scratch, having only your imagination as a limit of how far you can go.

But over the years, Unity has also expanded its capabilities beyond gaming, adapting its engine to other industries like architecture, engineering, film, and construction. This is a particularly exciting development since it broadens the impact and influence of Unity and their services all over the world. 

Of course, expansion means not only new opportunities, but also new challenges. In order to take advantage of wider accessibility, users need to find ways to collaborate remotely without issues like resolution or latency, which can easily derail the creative process.

Issues Streaming Unity Via Zoom

The truth is that no matter how great Zoom can be, it simply wasn't built for streaming a software that requires heavy CPU usage and high-definition video. This is because Zoom, for example, is not strictly browser-based. 

It uses your computer resources to process a significant portion of audio and video, which in turn can take a big toll on CPU and memory usage, thus causing issues like overheating and lagging. Add that to the fact that Zoom’s own app already eats up your computer’s capabilities and then you have a digital snowball that adds to the frustration and hinders your creativity.

It’s worth noting that Unity offers a service called Collaborate (a part of Unity Teams), which allows users to save, share, and sync their Unity projects regardless of location. However, this tool doesn’t address the root issue. 

After all, you may have to collaborate with someone who does not have Unity, or simply will need real-time live video and audio chat in order to facilitate the creative process. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you out. 

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What You Can Do About It

The good news of living in this tech-friendly era is that there are always solutions to any problem. Some are fairly straightforward, and some may require a bit more craft and imagination. Allow us to suggest six things you can do to solve your Unity streaming issues:

1. Rethink How You Screen Share

Instead of looking at Zoom as a discussion, think of it as a presentation; all you have to do is to run a Zoom screen-share-only meeting or webinar. This may not totally eliminate resolution issues, but it’s worth a try. Be sure to also check “optimize for full-screen” video when choosing the window to share. 

2. Consider This Workaround

This requires a crafty approach, and we say go for it.” Using Zoom, point a webcam from one computer to a second computer that’s streaming the Unity sequence. This workaround won’t be completely up to par when it comes to resolution and color, but it does lighten the load on your CPU and will help with latency issues.

3. Use Scene Fusion

The tech company KinematicSoup developed a plug-in called Scene Fusion that allows “environment artists to work on the same level together, in real-time. It uses the cloud to automatically share changes, so it works for local and remote teams. It replicates all environment work in real-time, including placing, removing, and moving objects as well as changing properties.” 

Of course, this is more about collaborating remotely in real time rather than screen sharing, so the efficacy of this solution depends on your exact needs. Also, please note that there are costs associated with using Scene Fusion.

4. Turn to Open Source Tools

Using Zoom and Unity in conjunction with OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) can be a game changer. OBS is an open-source tool that’s commonly used for live video production, live-streaming, and video recording.

The tool is so user-friendly that when you first download and install OBS, a setup wizard helps you determine how to optimize it for your specific needs. Notably, OBS also supports plugins that extend the tool’s functionality to include features such as NDI support (see next bullet point).

5. NDI Can Be Your New Best Friend

NDI (Network Device Interface) is a royalty-free protocol developed by NewTek that enables you to deliver and receive high definition video over a computer network in high quality and with low latency. It’s also frame-accurate and suitable for a live-production. 

This solution will also require you to be crafty as it needs two functioning computers to work. You can read more about it here

6. Look Into Alternatives

Consider turning to a different software like Evercast, a remote collaboration tool built from the ground up to service creative professionals. It’s designed for every stage of production and allows you to configure the tool to live stream cameras directly from set. 

Evercast is supported on PC, Mac, Linux, and/or iPad, and thrives on low latency/full HD streaming. It also offers live video and audio chat, allows you to draw on screen, and encrypts video streams. You can watch a demo of how it works here.

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