Large meeting beta feedback

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  • Updated 4 years ago
Greetings,

We had our first all-hands meeting in a large capacity room this morning. It may have been a leap of faith to run our most important meeting on a feature still in beta, but our faith was well rewarded.

I'd like to share our experience and ask a few questions. 

Clients

In San Francisco HQ, we connect via a Polycom GS 700. Our European offices and other American offices connect via a combination of Polycom Group Series room units and Mac Minis running the desktop client with HD USB cameras and mics. Our ~50 individual participants scattered around the world connect via browser, mobile and phone. 

How we used to do all-hands meetings

We would plug the presenter's laptop into a Polycom GS 700 and screen shared through Blue Jeans in his browser (behind his slide deck) simultaneously. The Polycom would make point-to-point calls from HQ to other offices, Blue Jeans from his browser was the main feed from San Francisco to remote participants, and Google Hangouts on a Mac Mini in our server room shared the Blue Jeans stream with individual remote staff who could not get into Blue Jeans because of the old participant limit. Oh, and the San Francisco AV signals originated from our integrated AV system (think lots of Extron HDMI extenders, wireless microphones, etc.) before they hit San Francisco's GS 700, also in the server room.

Aside from the complexity of that setup leading to a high failure rate, other offices and individual remote participants could not see or hear each other. And Blue Jeans' solid recording function could not capture the remote offices.

Today

This time, everyone could see and hear the right people and IT (my team and me) had a nearly pain-free experience setting up and recording the show. The "recording finished" alert email also came unusually quickly after we ended recording. That was a nice surprise.

Our only non-standard settings were muting new arrivals on entry and selectively unmuting remote participants when it was their turn to speak. We didn't globally pin any participants today (see issue #1, below). Instead, we disabled video at all but one location at a time except when we were speaking here in SF. Then, we enabled video in a grid view so everyone in every office could see each other. That was cool!

Questions and Issues

There were a few issues and questions that came up:
  1. We could not figure out how to locally modify our GS 700's layout without pushing the layout to everyone on the far end. We paired the GS with a browser and were logged in as admin. We started on the grid layout by default. In testing, when we clicked current-speaker-only layout, it wouldn't make the change locally until we pushed the config to all parties, which we did not want to do. Are we doing this incorrectly?

  2. The main content was a slide deck on a Macbook Pro connected via HDMI to the GS 700 and displayed on large projector screen. Locally in San Francisco, this was flawless. However, for much of the meeting, remote participants all saw the content stream flash black for about one second every 5 seconds or so. It was quite jarring — I saw it when one of our remote offices was presenting an the camera captured their screens. I will check whether the flashing manifested in the recording too.

  3. The resolution uncharacteristically decreased far below HD a few times, for minutes at a time, on our GS 700 here in SF. I've never seen the far end so pixelated and slow to refresh after movement. We have a gigabit internet link over fiber and it was under lighter-than-normal load during the meeeting so this is puzzling. Could Blue Jeans' server(s) have been under higher-than-expected load at the time?

  4. Muting participants' audio on entry worked great. Is there a way to auto-disable their video on entry too? (If mute on entry does in fact disable video, it could be that our remote folks were manually re-enabling it. If this is the case, we can simply ask them not to do that!)
Conclusion: Well done Blue Jeans!

Overall, this meeting was quite successful. Senior management approached me after to thank our team because both AV quality and transitions between speakers were notably smoother than usual.

While I would love to understand the issues outlined above so we can improve it for next time, this was far and away our best all-hands meeting ever.

Thanks also to the the community (in advance) for any feedback. We really appreciate it.

Zack Blum
IT Manager, Wikia
zack@wikia-inc.com
 
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Zack Blum, Champion

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  • relieved and excited

Posted 5 years ago

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Tom Strand, Champion

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Zack,

Brilliant feedback! 

I haven't run a large meeting with the new limits yet. You've flagged two areas needing attention for large meetings:  technical success and great choreography.  

Meaning that getting the tech part right is necessary, but not sufficient. For example, if a presenter is unexpectedly participating from a Hong Kong hotel instead of the home office and they have a mobile that they only use on international trips, and no one we know can find the number so we can call and say their presentation slot has been moved 30 minutes.




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Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO

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Zack,
Thanks for the feedback and the quick post on this forum.  We will take your feedback seriously and see whether we can implement them in coming releases.  I am pleasantly surprised about the number of requests we are getting from customers for large meetings. 
BTW, thanks for putting your faith in Blue Jeans for an important meeting like this one.
Best
Krish
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Philip - Lead Engineer, Customer Success Team

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Hi Zack,

Thank you for your awesome feedback about your Large Meeting Experience.  See my responses below to your questions

 For question 1:

You can use the * commands (Use * key to access BJN meeting control menu) at the beginning or during your BlueJeans call to change the local layout and other related meeting control abilities.  I will follow up with our Product development team on layout controls within the paring UI

For questions 2 and 3:

Let’s setup a time to test out your content setup for replication of the 5 second flash of black and also take a look at the video resolution quality during the meeting timeline

For question 4:

Currently we support the Audio Mute On Entry but I am happy to take the muting of video on entry as a feature request to our Product Development Team for possible future support.

I'll reach out to you shortly for follow ups

Best

Philip

(Edited)
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George Lowry

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Me too!
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Christiaan Botha

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As a government agency we would probably never monetize streaming live videos. However, the added functionality in charging individuals for screen time would be a great addition. I can see great possibilities for seminars, live music and one off events. I hope to become a beta tester and try the functionality out especially for training. Thanks for the rundown Zack. 
(Edited)
Christiaan - good to know. I will get your in contact with our PM on this! Thank you!
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Zack Blum, Champion

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UPDATE 10/10/2014

Since my initial post, our all-hands meetings have continued successfully using large capacity meetings. There have been no video quality challenges. The audio and video quality has just worked, like regular capacity meetings. That is to say very well. 

Scrolling through the participants list to occasionally remute their audio and video remains the only, challenge, though through "mute on entry" and educating our staff about best practices, we've nearly mitigated this issue entirely.

I recommend using large capacity meetings anywhere it helps your org while being cognizant that educating your colleagues is a major key to success.

Final tip: Tom Strand is, in my opinion, the best person to work with in the video collaboration education/culture area. He's active here in the community.
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Mitchell Sprinsky

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We tested Primetime yesterday to see if we could use it for our all staff meeting next week.  We had some issues:

  1. Everyone had the same moderator and meeting code so there was no way to control individual meeting rooms/people.
  2. Related to number 1, we don't particularly want to use BlueJeans to send the meeting invite. We would rather send it from our own office email/calendar.
  3. The link that is sent from BlueJeans to attendees and moderators does not give them all the info.  Even if they just want to dial in with audio, they have to click on the link and wait for the meeting to be started in order to get the information.  That is too late.  They need it before as many of our field are on the road and just dial in without using a browser.
  4. Muting and unmuting are not working correctly.  If I mute a participant and then unmute, they still have to manually unmute on their side as well.
  5. We need a way to make certain participants primary when we want to, not just who has the loudest voice.  I understand mute all that you don't want, but that seems kind of clunky.  It short be sort of how a network would switch cameras in a news cast.
Thanks for the hard work.  I think this will be very useful once things are ironed out.  We look forward to continue experimenting.
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John Beckmann

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Thanks for the awesome feedback Mitchell! We are making improvements based on feedback like this at a rapid clip, and this helps a lot!

A few thoughts regarding your comments:

1. When you organize an event, you can add Moderators, Presenters, and Attendees as separate participant types from within the scheduling interface. Was that not clear in the scheduling process? There are tabs for each role. We might need to make that more clear in the interface
2. When you schedule an event you generate three URLs, one for each participant type - Moderator, Presenter, Attendee. You can paste those in an email or calendar invite using your regular scheduling tool
3. We are working on making it easy to copy ALL the relevant event info, not just the URL to join. This should provide the necessary info. NOTE: When you do in fact invite people from the scheduling interface, it DOES send out all the info in the email. 
4. This is actually be design, but I'd love to hear more about whether we are taking the right approach. When a Moderator mutes a Presenter, they are 'hard muted'. The Presenter cannot unmute themselves. If the Moderator then clicks on unmute, it returns control to the Presenter, but doesn't actually unmute them. ThePresenter has to do that. This is so that the Moderator can never unmute someone's audio or video and surprise them be bringing them live if they are not ready. Any thoughts on this logic?
5. For now muting is the best way to achieve this, but I agree that it could be better. We are working on the ability to 'pin' a Presenter, which would make them the primary speaker and others cannot interfere. It's on the roadmap!

Thanks again for the amazing feedback. Please let me know your thoughts on the above if you would like!
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Mitchell Sprinsky

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  1. I did see that.  The issue is that I have to enter everyones email address. That could get crazy.  We only allow the all staff group to be sent from our internal servers.
  2. When you send the presenter connection info, how does it distinguish between the different users.  I sent the presenter link to three different users but they were all grouped as one "conference" user.  When I muted that, it muted everyone.
  3. Perfect!
  4. Hate to say this, but if I had techy people on the other end it might be good.  However, they'll just start clicking on anything in sight and it will go downhill quickly.  Our folks want us to control their experience, so unmute should really unmute.
  5. Pinning would be AWESOME!
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John Beckmann

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1. One approach I have tried is to enter an email distribution list instead. For example 'everyone@company.com'
2. Could you explain a bit more? Not sure I follow exactly. Which connection info? Presenter link? Conference user?
3. Cool:)
4. Noted. I'll backlog a feature for this. Note there is another approach - The Moderator can leave everyone to their own devices - in other words if the Moderator doesn't mute anyone, they can control their own audio and video muting.
5. Cool:)

Thanks again!!
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Chuck Wong

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What is the solution for 100  - 300 endpoints?  It would be nice if you could expand Large Meeting beyond 100 especially since a lot of people tend to call in as well as use their browser.
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Cindy Doyle

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HI Chuck! We do have Primetime. This will allow you to have up to 2000 participants and up to 100 presenters.  This was successfully tested recently at the Sundance Film Festival. This is a different product and acts slightly differently then the current Meet Me service that allows up to 100 participants.  More information is available here Primetime . 
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Ash Azzopardi, Champion

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Prime time is awesome... that is all ;)