Self-serve download video recordings

Great to hear from you @illuminagent thanks. Some of what you comment on is how BBB and its Greenlight interface are designed. But the black screen in the mp4 downlaod is a fault. @dvdjaco can Tech circle please pick this up?

The way to display slide and on-screen annotations, as well as the contents of the Shared Chat and its clickable links, and to switch between presentation and video thumbnails, is to use the Playback mode. These elements are not included in an mp4 download (and I think in principle some of the most helpful, like the clickable links in the chat, could not be - @dvdjaco @wouter am I right?).

If you choose to set the playback of the Presentation to ‘Visible’ rather than ‘Unlisted’ in the room’s Greenlight interface, anyone who visits the room’s login page can initiate playback. And of course the link to the playback can be shared, so that anyone can initiate playback in their own browser.

I find this works well, even if the playback window isn’t integrated inside another web page. The features available in Playback are much more extensive than those available in an mp4 format download. Is there some reason why sharing a Playback link won’t meet your needs, and a hosted mp4 has to be your means of communication?

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Thanks for the reply, @mikemh.

Not wedded to hosted mp4. It is nice, actually, being able to replay an entire conversation, with all the components that were there (screenshares, chats, etc), rather than only a single A/V feed, via the link. Even in Zoom, the chat is a separate file, not part of the video recording. I suppose the downsides that come to mind might include:

  • not being able to embed a video recording on our own site(s)—e.g., in a blog post or forum discussion
  • not being able to organize many videos, by topic or type, and create an archive which could be sorted, searched, filtered…
  • mobile usability?

I also wonder about storage & bandwidth. We currently have at least a couple hundred of 1-2 hr average video recordings of meetings, book groups, and topical conversations on Vimeo. I imagine we might start eating up resources if these started accumulating on the servers. As I have only recently begun getting familiar with the project, I am not yet up to speed on the allowances being envisioned.

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Yep. A link isn’t the same UI as an embedded playback window. But usable?

  • not being able to organize many videos, by topic or type, and create an archive which could be sorted, searched, filtered…

A webpage (or even a site) of links can be constructed of course.

  • mobile usability?

In my limited experience (Android phone, Firefox browser) playback works quite well. The UI is more clunky of course (small screen, touch not full keyboard/mouse) but works well enough. It’s split between two screens that can be toggled.

I also wonder about storage & bandwidth.

Hmmnn. doesn’t have a policy on this at present - true @wouter ? ‘Fair use’ would apply. But there isn’t a predefined norm. I suspect that the Greenllight UI will be inconvenient, before size of storage becomes a huge issue. Greenlight will soon become inconvenient (just a flat list in date order) when more than around a dozen files are stored, is my guess. If a user (you) started to accumulate large amounts of recording we’d need to define a service level on this.

Yeah, I’d say. It could be used. Though from a design or “user experience” perspective, it is probably not ideal, as there isn’t the interesting visual element (or it would have to be added as a separate image), and it leads people away from the site they are on, so perhaps breaks a certain flow of attention.

True. But for the above…

I’m sure it will come up sooner or later! In any event, I’m less concerned about paying fairly for resources we may use, which we would want to do regardless, and more so with the ability to organize a lot of media files and present them in a nice way. However, I understand that that may be beyond the scope of the service. Or perhaps, there could be some way to create “albums” and categories or a tagging system for cataloguing a larger collection of events, within Greenlight?

It would be sufficient for our purposes to have a video file that exactly reproduces the flow of the discussion—showing the speakers when they are speaking, the presentation when there is a presentation, and any screensharing when that occurs.

One of the issues we have with Zoom is that there is a cumbersome workflow involved with producing events, downloading the video files, uploading them somewhere else, adding the appropriate metadata, and then embedding them wherever we embed them, and also making sure they are deleted from Zoom. It would be REALLY NICE to have a single (cooperatively owned & managed) platform where that all could happen in an integrated manner:

  • Create the event
  • Invite people (+ emails and notifications; include automated, user-configurable reminders)
  • Record it (optionally)
  • Archive it (categories, tags, folders or albums, showcases…)
  • Share it (so, ability to embed elsewhere, including social media feeds)
  • And even, why not, discuss it… allowing for asynchronous, continued participation

Tbh, my dream would be that a video conferencing service such as could be integrated with a Discourse forum, so there could be some seamless way to create a topic which invokes a video (or audio only) meeting, which then gets automatically embedded in the topic. That is what I hope we can do eventually on Infinite Conversations, but I could see many communities finding such an integration useful.

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This is an interesting vision @illuminagent and we should note it. I and others agree that the Greenlight interface, the existing recording-handling options, and the uses that are made of the video recording capacity of BBB could all usefully be extended. Some of this is a matter of technique, and some of it is UI development.

However, development of these kinds is well beyond our capability at present. All of the tech work that we can support needs to go into maintaining the service, chasing bugs and reliability. As we expand our membership, thus revenue, thus work hours, development becomes possible. And Greenlight as a UI for handling video recordings might then be on a development agenda.

In principle where does this fit in to a longer term roadmap @wouter @dvdjaco @Yurko @osb ? What kind of ranking might developments in this area have?

PS: “Asynchronous continued participation” is one of the main things that I personally feel needs to be developed as a practice. For example, this Forum is part of the 'hidden product" in, still much under used. Here’s some personal thinking about toolsets for organisers, as a lineup in federated wiki learnstack

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PPS Concerning event setup and follow-through . . we did experiment for a while (a year ago) with Mobilizon, to organise events in our commons.hour series. But it seemed a little flaky in places, and the functions don’t extend as far as your spec would want to - for example, compiling listings, and continued asynch interaction. Or at least, it wasn’t obvious, how such things might be done - the interface is not 100% transparent and our time for a learning curve was limited.

What decided us was: YAI (yet another interface) to be learned - by us as organisers and our members as users. So we reverted to this forum for organising commons.hour and its follow-through. It works even if it’s not elegant, it’s a familiar format (son-of-bulletin-board) and it’s part of the basic tool architecture of this organisation.

The commons.hour event format here in Discourse comprises:

  • An session announcement eg Sign-up - commons.hour session#6
    No automatic mailing or notification, no ‘subscription’ to the category - manual notifications through multiple channels.
  • A discussion thread including links to the recording (both formats), public chat, shared notes and any ‘take home points’ from the organisers. Eg Session#6 discussion
  • A summary page of all events in the series Commons.hour - Overview

All of this, pretty manual :roll_eyes:

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thanks for the feedback and very good suggestions, @illuminagent !

for now we’ll have to work with what we have, but if/when we have funding for enhancing our cooperative service offering.

As Mike suggests above, Mobilizon would be interesting to create events in a social networked fashion on the ActivityPub decentralised protocol. So it’s automatically part of the Fediverse.
Add to that a PeerTube server to store, share and stream videos, also in ActivityPub.
And discussion could be on any of the Fediverse servers, like or any other Mastodon server, using that ActivityPub protocol. We actually did run some Live Streaming from dedicated servers for Cities for Change from Amsterdam City last year. Then we were sending those streams to Vimeo. But it could as well be sent to PeerTube. That would be quite a dream scenario, right, doing all that in a decentralised social network fashion?

In any case, some would need to work on the funding of such project before we could go down that road. If you know of opportunities and/or would be willing to help, let us know :slight_smile:

To reply some of your more immediate concerns:

So far, after two years of running the service, storage of recordings hasn’t yet become an issue to worry about for the short term. It maybe that at some point we’ll need to devise a strategy to handle the storage, share load with other video/media platforms or start to put certain limits or price extra space. But it is not yet on our agenda.

That sounds like an incident. Can you send us the details, here or if you prefer to contact @ meet . coop?

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Hi, @mikemh and @wouter, thank you both for the replies. I understand that my vision (and the larger vision) of an integrated, efficient, AND beautiful, distributed (and localizable) cooperative communications and collaborative infrastructure will not be achievable immediately, but it seems to me many of the pieces that could be stitched together to do so already exist, as you’ve also noted (and documented in those wikis), so I am hopeful for the dream scenario.

I would love to help bring awareness to and raise some money for that kind of work, but it will take some time to create our own momentum (as more of a cultural movement) before Cosmos will be of great use. That said, though small (which is beautiful), I believe we are well on our way. Right now, it is nice to have an ethical alternative to Zoom. But we do need to be able to download those mp4 files.

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 3.33.19 PM

Using the latest Firefox on a Mac, when I click on the Download links above, I get the following screen:

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 3.36.02 PM

I am also able to right-click the button and download the mp4 file directly, however, when I play that file the screen is black (although audio works). This happens with both of the meetings we’ve conducted. Thanks for any help you can offer.

Hi @illuminagent I have tested on Firefox and Chromium and those videos plays fine. I wonder does it works now for you?

It could be that the backend was still encoding the files which would cause that error.

Hi @elon. Not really. What occurs is inconsistent. Testing Firefox on Ubuntu resulted in a video feed—but only for the presentation, which most of the time is the default Big Blue Button slide. When a presenter shares their screen, this takes over. The participants’ own video feeds (either as gallery or speaker view) do not appear.

Testing on Safari, Mac, clicking download results in the video loading in a new tab (no “corrupt file” message), where audio plays… but the screen itself is black.

Maybe there is an issue with the transcoding?

I doubt that since the recordings are from May 3 and May 10.

Hi @illuminagent I did some digging and see that MacOS does not like the encoding from BigBlueButton. I will have to look at why that is.

The downloadable video does not contain the webcam feeds and only have the presentation area exported.

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Thanks for checking on that, Elon.

That’s good to know… though it doesn’t really meet our needs, as described above. I understand that this reflects a limitation of Big Blue Button, which puts the presentation front and center; whereas in our groups we typically speak face to face and occasionally screen-share, so it would be more useful to be able to download the webcam feeds, or really, a combo feed that weaves together webcams, presentation, and screen-shares, as a unified stream.

I believe that is what many groups have come to expect from Zoom, with the typical workflow involving recording a meeting in Zoom (which includes the webcams, screenshares, etc.) and then uploading to YouTube (or wherever). It seems that’s more or less where we’re still at too, for better and worse.

I’ll be curious to see how the roadmap develops, and would like to continue to be supportive. However, it doesn’t seem currently that we’re able to use the service as our main videoconferencing tool, until there is some kind of feature parity with these components. I hope the service continues to evolve!

a combo feed that weaves together webcams, presentation, and screen-shares, as a unified stream . . what many groups have come to expect from Zoom . .uploading to YouTube

‘A combo feed’ is what the presentation playback does so well. better than any other service I think, including public chat and live links too, interactive. The issue is, coding a downloadable mp4 file conversion that approaches the same kind of richness? And figuring what kind of UI is possible for controlling that richness in interactive playback. My hunch is, that’s a lot of development work, beyond what will have available soon. @wouter @elon

Legacy here, of BBB’s origins in virtual-classroom education, as distinct from the social media ‘mass publishing’ genre that now has come to dominate usage of video rooms?

An unusual feature of the presentation playback is being able to record ‘animated’, hand-crafted, slide presentations that include live on-screen annotation. It would be great if this facility of the web playback was exploited by more users. Something not found in the world of Zoom.

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Agreed with @mikemh about the Presentation mode, it’s a unique feature of BBB.

But also agreed with @illuminagent that many people need a recording of the webcams + whiteboard.

And that’s what we could do with the Video Streaming, a pilot we ran in 2021 with the City of Amsterdam, for the Cities for Change Conference with dozens of conf sessions, streamt to Vimeo and autorecorded there.

So if this is really an important feature, how could we add it on our production servers?

In reality it is an enhancement of GreenLight that allows a host to set up a rtmp video stream to an external server. @yurko and @elon developed some scripts to make sure the streaming bot would join… It may require some work for but ultimately not that much?

How much money do we need to crowdfund?


This feels exciting. Would be great to get this into production. The genres of video streaming and mass publishing of video recordings are too dominant, for to sit outside them? @osb


Yep :+1: Can Tech circle put a financial estimate on this?

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@illuminagent What do you make of this other discussion in Mastodon , about different users’ variable needs?

Just wanted to clarify a couple of technical points:

BBB recordings consist of a number of resources, including:

  1. A video file containing the audio of the room + the video stream of the presentation area (which could be uploaded slides, a shared screen or an external video).
  2. A video file containing the audio of the room + the webcam area
  3. Chat, shared notes and other resources such as slide thumbnails

The Presentation view, which is the only one present in vanilla Greenlight, composes all those resources so that users can “replay” what happened in the room. This feature is meant mainly for students who want to view past lectures.

The video file you get with the Download link is not part of the standard BBB/Greenlight install. It is generated by a custom job that runs when the recording is processed. It was originally included by Collocall (see GitHub - unicode-it/bbb-download: Produce downloadable material from BigBlueButton recordings, which creates the video file described in (1.) above).

Creating a downloadable video with presentation + webcams (+ chat?) has been in the official roadmap for a while but with a low priority, see for example this issue. One of the main developers stated a few days ago that they’re still planning on it to be included in a future release.

Until then:

  • If you’re only interested in point (2) above, webcams+audio, you can just open the presentation view, right-click on the webcams on the top left corner, and “Save video as”.
  • You could use a video editor to combine the presentation and webcam video files.
  • You can use OSB to capture the presentation view.

None of the above solutions is ideal, so I agree we should look for alternatives. The streaming route is an option, but it is very resource consuming and the recording is just a side effect of streaming to an external platform.

I’d rather explore other post-processing options which don’t require encoding video streams in real time. There are other forks of (or projects inspired in) the original bbb-download repo (now abandoned) that combine all recorded resources in a single video file, e.g. GitHub - fossasia/bbb-download and GitHub - tilmanmoser/bbb-video-download: A BigBlueButton recording postscript to provide video download. What do you think @elon @Yurko @hng ?


We have recently also switched to a different script: GitHub - danielpetri1/bbb-recording-exporter: A client- and server side script to generate BigBlueButton recordings.


looks promising, thanks! Anything we should take into account? How does the “Greenlight integration” work?

I have tested the script @hng mentioned and it works and the video will show up in Greenlight. We need to decide if we should use this script and when to push to production servers.

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