A Patrick Swayze Christmas: all day Mystery Science Theater 3000 stream December 22, 2014 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Every week I put up a post about an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 over on FanFare. In conjunction with that, we've been having group watchings of the episodes online Thursday evenings through a stream syncing site. This year however, Thursday falls on Christmas Day. So instead, we're going to have an all-day marathon stream of MST-related Christmas artifacts.

We have the newfound ability to stream things other than YouTube videos through sync-video, so some of the things we'll be showing are more out of the ordinary. So this time only, I'm also going to be offering many other MST-related items, in addition, of course, to the two MST Christmas episodes.

These are not technically FanFare showings -- I am going through the Mystery Science Theater episodes in order, and we're not up to either of them yet. That's why I'm announcing it here rather than over there.

The room will go up some time on Christmas Eve. I'll post a link to it here when it's ready to go. The whole thing will cycle, and a complete run will probably be many hours, so any time you drop by you should find something interesting. Of course this is Christmas Day, people will be busy (even I probably won't be in the room that much), but if you need some help getting through the day, we'll be there for you. No stress, no mess.
posted by JHarris to MetaFilter-Related at 5:39 AM (24 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

I call it a "stream," but really it's a little weirder than that.

The website we've been using is sync-video.com. It's not technically a streaming site, but a place that coordinates streams from other sources. Most often this is YouTube, but they now have an option that lets you coordinate other videos on the internet, even if they're not hosted on streaming servers.

How does that work? Well what I think happens is, its Flash applet downloads the video, then cues it up to the proper place. It starts playing it before the download is finished, so the delay is usually just a couple of seconds.

Some of the things we're showing are quite large (hint hint), so what I have done is use the audio/video Swiss Army Knife that is ffmpeg to split them into five-minute chunks, put those in my Dropbox, and then loaded them all into a huge sync-video playlist. Each chunk is small enough that it doesn't take that long to load.

This is the system we used to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 113, THE BLACK SCORPION, last week. It seemed to work pretty well. My main worry is I don't know where or if Dropbox will throttle download speeds. Our usual audience at MST Night is from six to ten people, but this being Christmas, the number could be anything, from zero (a real possibility) to dozens. Because of the uncertainty, to increase the chances of getting this off successfully, if any of you have web space we could use to host the files, it would be appreciated. But if you don't this setup should work. I'd like to keep participants to members only, so when the link goes up please don't spread it outside the site, but feel free to have friends watch on your machine.

My backup plan, should Dropbox fail, involves a reduced playlist involving only the stuff available on YouTube, which is most of it, but not the added extras.
posted by JHarris at 6:32 AM on December 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

I watched MST3K for the first time with my kids this weekend - the two Christmas themed episodes. Saturday was Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - as it happens, the exact 23rd anniversary of the premiere!

Thanks as always, JHarris. Hope to be able to swing by at some point.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I call it a "stream," but really it's a little weirder than that.
Maybe a flood, maybe a puddle, maybe backwash... could be anything.

Personally, my one concession to my evil plan to ignore the holidays completely will be keeping this on in one tab of my browser and checking in occasionally.

It must also be noted that sync-video has a chat function allowing would-be MovieRiffers to contribute their own snark. So expect intermittent FoopRiffs throughout the day.

And jharris, I have multiple underutilized web capabilities including a Dropbox account with 4GB, almost all unused, a Box.net 50GB account with over 40GB unused (that's where I'm actually keeping stuff, but I've never tried to share anything publicly there) and a webhosting account where I used to house my old blogs that has about 90GB of allowed space and "unlimited bandwidth". So I can apparently host a small army if needed. MeFiMail me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

This definitely appeals to my interests. Thanks, JHarris.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:27 PM on December 22, 2014

What's Vietnam?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:22 PM on December 22, 2014

foop, am going to MeMail you about that.
posted by JHarris at 6:24 PM on December 22, 2014

Hi Keeba!
posted by valkane at 6:42 PM on December 22, 2014

No offense oneswellfoop, but unless you're made from those special parts that control when the streams begin or end, I think I'll leave the riffing to the pros, thanks.

(P.S. It's not just you. Pretty much all my MST-loving friends think it's ok to 'join in' and think I'm the strange one for permitting no sound except laughter during viewings.)

Yes, I am hilarious at parties. Why?
posted by Seiten Taisei at 8:43 AM on December 23, 2014

Ah, but Seiten Taisei, the stream only has a text chat room. You can riff all you want and it won't interrupt or talk over anyone.
posted by JHarris at 12:53 PM on December 23, 2014

This makes me feel like a happy king.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:03 AM on December 24, 2014

I've got the playlist constructed basically. I might end up having to rebuild it though to use links to oneswellfoop's webspace, which I think is a safer bet bandwidth-wise, but I left out some of the files the first time. That process would take a good, focused half an hour or so of work I think -- sync-video's editing tools are not aimed at large playlists. Other than that, it's basically ready to go now.
posted by JHarris at 4:32 AM on December 24, 2014

This is a provisional URL that I'm testing the stream on:


If that works out okay, I'll just leave it running. I will be in sporadically though. This is not the version with foop's links, which I'll construct later and may switch to when I can build it.
posted by JHarris at 5:16 AM on December 24, 2014

One of our extras is not showing video, and I have reason to believe the problem is with the files. Will look into it later, I suspect an encoding issue.
posted by JHarris at 7:46 AM on December 24, 2014

Okay, I think it's pretty much ready for general audiences. One of the things refused to stream video regardless of what I tried so I just removed it from the playlist. That means the intermission card is slightly wrong, mind you.

The URL is the same: http://sync-video.com/r/rYwvcham. I will leave it up until at least the end of Christmas Day.

If all people vacate the room it will close, and when I reopen it it will have a different URL. If you follow the link and there's nothing there drop by the thread here and check if I've posted a new URL.

Sometimes I've noticed that videos will be paused upon loading. If that happens, the stream will mostly stall until I unpause it -- and as the room owner, I'll be the only one who can do that. It doesn't happen often generally.

The entire list is about eight or nine hours, but of course it's intended to be something people drop in on and leave randomly. No stress. (Well, not for you guys at least!) I fully expect the population will drop to zero at times, and in fact most of the time I probably won't be in the room myself except to keep it open while I'm AFK.

See you in the stream!
posted by JHarris at 2:23 PM on December 24, 2014

Stream report as of 2 AM Dec 25:

It's gotten stuck a couple of times. I've got to get some sleep, if you hop in and it's not playing it's probably because it's gotten stuck and I'm asleep. The Flash player used is problematic when used for long playlists, it seems, the longer it's open the more annoying it gets. It's a good thing I have two machines to use for this, it lets me throw ownership of the room to the other machine while I restart the browser.

Still though, I don't think we've had many really long breaks. The Dropbox bits are less reliable than I'd like though.
posted by JHarris at 11:09 PM on December 24, 2014

I've had problems with using Dropbox as a host for this, so I've reconstructed the playlist to use oneswellfoop's web space. I think it'll work better.
posted by JHarris at 12:13 AM on December 25, 2014

You're doing the Lord's Prince of Space's work, JHarris.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:28 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have hit a snag. sync-video doesn't care who created the room, if he leaves the chat it'll assign ownership on a quasi-arbitrary basis to someone else left in the place. Unfortunately, my router sometimes disconnects everyone if too much is demanded of it. In the process of reuploading the broken video from before this happened, and so both machines I was using to keep it going lost ownership.

A lurker who apparently left his computer on and went AFK is the new owner. I think he'd assign ownership back if he noticed, but he hasn't. This might not be for some hours.

I can always make a new room, but it'd have a different URL. This is my fallback scenario, if I can't regain ownership to the old room. I really want the missing thing in the stream, it's one of the highlights, but I can't add it, or perform any maintenance tasks, until I get back control

You're doing the Lord's Prince of Space's work, JHarris.

bUt WoUlD tHe MaStEr ApPrOvE?
posted by JHarris at 3:45 AM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

By the way --

If you get a "connection closed" message, or even a "you have been kicked" message, sync-video seems to do that sometimes, at times seemingly randomly. Just reload the page, it should be okay.
posted by JHarris at 4:28 AM on December 25, 2014

Oh hey, that's me. I'm passing control back. Sorry bout that!
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:26 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seems to be working pretty well for now. Will be heading out for a couple of hours soon but won't be gone long, I'll leave the stream going while I'm out.
posted by JHarris at 9:48 AM on December 25, 2014

Has been going for a while now. I'll leave it up at least until midnight. I had to switch out some things that weren't working very well, but overall I think it's been successful.
posted by JHarris at 4:50 PM on December 25, 2014

Not a lot left. Thanks for showing up everyone! I'm probably heading out before long, have a happy remaining holiday season and 2015!
posted by JHarris at 7:30 PM on December 25, 2014


The maximum number of unique people we got at one time was around seven.

Unfortunately for most of the time I wasn't really in a state to supply running commentary or deep insight, oneswellfoop was on hand to handle some of that, though.

Overall it went pretty well, especially for an event that lasted so long. sync-video's limitations persisted in being a problem, however. It's no fun to manipulate playlists of 60+ items using its drag-and-drop system.

I'm pretty low on sleep at the moment and keep drifting off unexpectedly. I might take next week off from the MST FanFare postings, which would put the next episode (and beginning of season two!) at January 8.

Thanks again everyone who joined us, even if just for a moment. Several anons appeared, some of them sticking around for a bit. It was a lot of fun, even with me dazing out periodically. I'm not sure if I'll have the time or energy to do this again next year, but there's still weekly MST3K Club if you're interested in these kinds of things. This is JHarris signing off.
posted by JHarris at 12:36 AM on December 26, 2014

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