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Pro Studio Hangout Extension

I'm as far as I'll get without your feedback. That's why tonight I'm announcing Pro Studio. Pro Studio is a tool used to produce a smooth-running Hangout. The Host and Producers can cue, mute and white-out their guests, send scripts to appear under their webcam, create and track topics for discussion, etc. Participants can "raise their hand" to indicate a question or comment while being led down the path of a beautifully organized, well-executed production.

More about it at the link, including rough documentation.

Please feel free to share your feedback... I know that the way to improve this tool is to hear from you how to do so.

#hanchordesk   #prostudio  
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Michelle Li's profile photoJeff Zajas's profile photoKempton Lam's profile photoChad LaFarge's profile photo
53 comments
 
It's a great app, but it wold be awesome if it worked for people that didn't have the app installed as well.  Most of the time, the people you'd need this app for are newbies to G+...and thus wouldn't have the app.
 
Thanks, +Pam Adger.

That's a good point, +DeAno Jackson. A lot of the shows hosted for on air use a select cast of characters, but there are many that have a fresh crowd as well. The only easy workaround is to have the URL for the installer handy to put it in chat for those users, and have them re-enter the Hangout.

I say "easy" to make it sound nicer... there's just no way to do some of the stuff this tool does without having it installed by the participants you want to guide.
 
Damn, now I just need to find a free solution with zero lag virtual cam, lower thirds, and switching between desktop and camera views and I'll be able to host coding mashups XD
 
If you don't mind nags and branding, WebCamMax paired with xSplit would get you there, +Daniel Bentley.
 
So far I like it +Chad LaFarge. A few others had concerns about how it might be affecting the audio stream of live shows and asked me not to use it. Sarah was testing some of the features at 6:00 pm last night.
 
Thanks, +Dan Weil.

Of the two issues I've heard about and seen from the Hangout you're referring, one was an inconsiderate user with a loud beep in the background (which Pro Studio can help with) and the other was audio dropping within the Hangout. I'm interested in the audio dropping issue, and looking at it with this in mind:

I've had audio drop indiscriminately between participants long before I've ever used an extension, much less made one :). In fact I've been in live shows where it's happened and the only mod anyone was using was a lower third (and not Moritz's, but a separate app). For our piece of mind, I've asked some good people on the Google Hangouts and APIs team to look at video from Sarah's Hangout and gtalk logs from my own to see if there's any connection at all.

Please give it a shot and tell me if you experience anything negative.
 
This is amazing - just installed - I am incredibly impressed with the detail.
 
Great work +Chad LaFarge!

This is the sort of thing that +Dan McDermott and +Jason Salas and +Eric Rice I have frequently talked about, and I'm glad to see someone has started putting these tools together. I think the notable thing about this is that it is coordinating between people running the app - this is very much an important aspect.

Some of your questions to the dev mailing list make sense... and it makes even more sense why they were questions that I've pondered a lot myself!

I haven't played with yours extensively yet, but here are the list of things that I had on my list for such a tool as well:
- Timer since the HoA (or manual trigger) started
- Since you have a topic list, have a timer attached to each topic as well. This lets you know if a topic is going long and provides you with an index to topics after the show is over.
- Standard lower thirds and badge coordination.
- Lower thirds timing coordination. (In a real lower thirds, it doesn't sit there all the time. It only appears for a few seconds when you first begin talking and then only periodically afterwards.)
- Reduce screen whitespace. This is something that +Sarah Hill points out a lot, since the camera has issues with lots of whitespace. It wasn't clear if this was an app or an extension, but if it is an app then you can at least make the middle part of the screen black and video overlay on this instead of using the default video overlay.
 
Those are some good ideas you've got there, +Allen Firstenberg.

It's an extension, so no luck on the black background.

I've been considering a change in the way that the topics are displayed in the Status section to allow more data to display, and a time-remaining for the current topic-end is a pretty good use of that space.

I could keep the start-time of each topic in the Topics section, all based on the time since the Broadcast started or the timer was triggered.

I need to spend some time learning more about how images are handled for the lower-thirdsie stuff... you've seen my overlay question in the forum... I don't know where that issue exists, but I think it's the key to some bigger things.
 
I need to re-read your question. I do see that you're already using overlays, tho, with the "Hide" button. Very clever.

I would strongly suggest changing to an app instead of an extension. This lets you position the video stream and gives you some additional control. (Not to mention additional space.) It also makes it easier for people joining the hangout to get started with it - there is just no easy way to start an extension at this point.
 
Probably the best and most needed tool for Hangout. very well done!
If I can help in anyway with the scripting let me know. I have many uses and applications that i can use it for.

First 2 things that come to mind right now are:
1. A  "report" button for TOS violations.
2. Be able to +1 on the actual Host/hangout and under eachusers (just a wet dream)
 
A stellar addition to HO... an amazing job.. it will help everyone going forward.. Very well done.sir.
 
Great job +Chad LaFarge. Looks like a great tool. Will definitely try it out when I can find some time. Can you do a rough YouTube clip of how the UI and functions look like?
 
+Allen Firstenberg I ended up with an extension based on the ease of hiding it without disturbing the content area, but you make a good point. I'm a little afraid of this ending up looking like the control panel of a 747... ;)

I had ImageResource issues with a specific image using the same code that I use to Hide. Thanks for the kind words, by the way. In it's original version, the "Hide" function actually turned the camera off. I went for the white overlay based on the notion that people might get too comfortable knowing that their camera was off and be caught off guard when/if it pops back on. It's the difference between seeing your Turn Camera Off button red and feeling secure that it'll stay that way and having a white cloak that you know can go away at any time.

I also considered implementing a "Nuke" feature that would Mute, Turn Camera Off and apply the white overlay just to give the Host and Producers time to block the user but... it actually takes about the same time to just block the user.

I might change the Hide method, as you can get tricky to get around it.
 
[control panel of a 747] I think you can go to a configuration route - certainly not everyone will want or need every feature, and you can have ways to turn off features you don't need. But I absolutely agree that you don't want it too complex. What you've done so far has kept it at just about the right level, I think.
 
Lots of great feedback here, +Chad LaFarge! Nice job!

As an aside, looks like the audio issue was separate from this extension :) but if people still see issues with losing audio during the hangout or hangout on air, feel free to let me know!
 
Thanks, +Sonia Romo... pinging +Sarah Hill, +Dan Weil and +Mike Downes with your update and the good vibe that it brings :).

I'm so glad that you Googlers are as engaged as you have proven to be in this community. it helps a lot to know that we have your ear.

Don't forget to make a wonderful day.
 
+Chad LaFarge  I installed Pro Studio but I didn't see any tools.. and when I clicked it. it messed with my Video Quality as well.... and some others said that my audio was messed.
 
+Chad LaFarge  and One point I think should be made here. that person who Started the Hangout should have the ONLY tools to use this . and it should work on the participants of the hangout that don't have the app.
 
+Sheila B. DuBois Thanks for giving it a go! If your Google Talk plugin is not 2.9 and above it just won't display the interface. If using Chrome you can go to chrome://plugins and see your version. I know that +Mike Downes had a version issue as well. He may have a link to the update.

It's just not possible to reach into the session of people who are not using the extension... they share a session state that makes using the tools possible.

On the matter of who has access to the tools, the Host may designate as many (or few... or no) Producers to have access to the tools, otherwise the only tools available to non-Host/Producers are the Status updates and the "Raise Hand" feature.

Please let me know after you update if you have a better experience.
 
+Mike Metheral Thanks for reminding me... I plan to continue updating the documentation as I'm able... just ridiculously busy at the moment.

I'll add notes about the types of users, the general recommended workflow, and also some use-cases to illustrate how it can be best applied for various situations.
 
+DeAno Jackson was in the hangout with me last night. And I did a screen share and saw what I saw. I tried to get a screen shot but it didn't work. I will check to see to see if my plug in is up to date later.
 
Yeah and DeAno kept messing with me. I think this tool needs to used very carefully.
 
Pinging you offline to see if we can get it figured out... I don't have any other 2.9 users with issues of which I'm aware.
 
Glad we were able to get you all squared away, +Sheila B. DuBois. Hope you enjoy the app and I appreciate the extra set of eyes on it :).
 
Used it tonight +Chad LaFarge and this really gives me an extra hand in my Hangout.  Before we had to use hand cues in order to communicate with our guests.  Now, we can do it in a single click.  I also love the feature of being able to mute and hide someone's video. Nice work!   
 
Thanks, +Sarah Hill. Good to hear positive feedback. +Dan McDermott was kind enough to have me on Google Plus Week to talk about it and, despite enormous personal blunders, I survived and actually had a wonderful time (until I manged to drop clean out and not make it back in). All their kind words and insightful questions made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I hope they manage to edit out any of my goofball rookie errors.
 
+Chad LaFarge when Dan is feeling better he will go back to his daily news and tech hangouts....I am sure you will be invited. Those are just as fun as the Friday ones and sometimes go the whole 4 hours. 
 
I have two....cute white kitten and tabby cat with yellow background. Actually next time we are in a hangout I will show all the characters so you will know them when you see them. 
 
BTW I take full responsibility for you blocking. I just wasn't thinking. I could have stayed black screen. 
 
Maybe next time I'll just look for the name before I act on any concern I have, +Pam Adger ;)
 
Honestly... that was just silly. That was all me.
 
Really it's all good. Let's just each take 50% and move on from there. 
 
+Chad LaFarge, just want to say again, love the useful functions for power users. Keep up the good work!
 
Many thanks, sir. I like the Select/Deselect All check-box which was added based on your feedback, +Kempton Lam, and I discussed adding Time-stamped topics on Google Plus Week, as suggested above by +Allen Firstenberg. I caught your comments at the end of the show though I wasn't able to be present at that point... thanks for the compliment... and ZOW!
 
Many thanks, +Robert Redl... looking at tab-ifying that Tools/Topics selector in coming days.
 
Would like to suggest to use collapsable frames "accordion" as oppose to tabs (if possible) its more user friendly (just my 2 cents worth).
As for saving space as we talked about.. can get rid of the frames (I know they are "pretty" but it will be cleaner) / perhaps thin gray line to seperate (on 10 users) it would save about 50 pixels 
 
Thanks, +Mike Metheral... I could remove the borders and reduce the line height on the Participants list... that's a helpful suggestion. I've also added the "accordion"-style layout to the "maybe" list. Some of the titles are short enough to condense multiple titles onto one line, so it'll be a test for the greater savings.

Of course, it's also been suggested to convert it to an App, giving a lot more room to play with. I'll be looking that as well.

Before I forget to mention it, I want to say how thankful I am for all of the advice, along with the encouragement and kudos that have been offered over the past couple of days.

Don't stop with the suggestions! I love the ideas! You guys are really inspiring me to step it up.
 
Cool!  I'm going to check this out!
 
Thanks :) How's yours coming along?
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