Watching videos together remotely

When you’re on a video call and trying to share a youtube video, just playing it and sharing your screen doesn’t work because the audio output goes to your headphone and your friends won’t be able to hear anything. Even if you output the sound to your speaker hoping your microphone will pick it up, it’s not gonna sound good.

It turns out, you can share youtube videos in zoom, all you need to do is tick the “share computer sound” box. So I tried it today and there are two downsides. First, there’s considerable lag. This is especially true for slower internet connections as I would be downloading the video and uploading it at the same time to my friend, causing delays and quite a few frame freezes.

Think about it, you have to finish downloading the video before it shows up on your screen, and only after it shows up on your screen does zoom begin uploading it and sending it to your friend. Also, your computer screen is probably 1080p so that’s the equivalent of uploading a 1080p video in real-time.

The second downside is the volume. The person sharing the audio decides the volume, too loud and you can’t hear your friend talking, or your friend can’t hear you. The volume has to be at a sweet spot for both of you to hear each other and listen to the video. Not a big downside but requires a bit of fidgeting.

The better solution would probably be for both of you to watch the video at the same time without the need to upload it to the other person, and it turns out, there is such a solution. After a quick search online, I found Watch2gether, a website that lets people watch videos and stuff in sync. Granted I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like a much better solution than sharing computer sound in zoom.

But what if you want to share an offline video file on your computer? Well, you could try sharing it via zoom and see how the quality goes. But realistically, you’re going to upload the video as you play and your friend is going to download the video in real-time so if your upload speed isn’t that great then there will be lags and frame freezes.

Alternatively, you could send the file to your friend in advance and try syncplay which lets people play the same video file and sync them up. Again, I haven’t tried it yet but it’s definitely an alternative to consider. It might be a bit of a hassle but it probably beats sharing crappy video quality.


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