2nd Annual MeFi MST3K Club Holiday Stream December 21, 2015 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Last year, instead of our usual MST3K Club showing around that time of week, we instead ran a holiday video marathon, a multi-day stream of MST3K and related content. The idea was to have a lot of things running continuously, so people who just wanted to hang out and watch some yuletide nonsense at odd moments could drop by, hang out for a bit, get in some laughs, then return to family/booze/bed, no matter the hour. A low maintenance, no guilt kind of marathon. We are trying it again this year, in the usual MST3K Club sync-video room. For more details, click through....

From last year, edited for accuracy:

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. The site thus tries to keep everyone watching approximately the same thing at the same time. And it provides a text chat room too, which is perfect.

Some of the things we're showing are quite large, 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 the ever-helpful oneswellfoop's webspace, and loaded them into playlists. Each chunk is small enough that it doesn't take that long to load. The playlists themselves are several, so we can change things up as need be, but also can play long things overnight.

We've been doing this for our weekly showings for about a year now, so we have a pretty good sense of the system's strengths and weaknesses, so the problems we had keeping things going last time, while still there, should be much less of an issue now. Even so, I ask you bear with us, as it is entirely a duct-tape-and-bubble-gum kind of arrangement.

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. Last year we topped out at about seven viewers at once. I'd like to keep participants mostly to members, but if you have friends who want to watch I'm okay with it, so long as they don't become overwhelming. Some of the things we're watching I'm comfortable sharing with relatively low numbers of people, but not with the Internet At Large.

Further notes for 2015:
  1. Why am I using "we" everywhere? Habit. Really, most of this is just me. However, if you'd like to help us run the show this year, like if you're going to be awake overnight or throughout the day and can help us keep things going, please contact me via MeMail. I was the weakest link last time, and there were times when I fell asleep, the video ended, and sync-video seized up and nothing was playing for a bit.
  2. If you have suggestions for things to add, get in contact via MeMail! Especially if it's already on YouTube, those things are the best. This year's content is: YouTube MST episodes, some riffing from other sources, Space Ghost Christmas content and rarities, a number of particular holiday specials (including one that's especially relevant considering what just hit theaters, hint hint), and a little non-holiday and non-riffing, but still weirdly ridiculous, video.
  3. The time frame I'm planning for this is December 23-25. It might extend for a bit after depending on demand, but last year it got pretty light towards the end so there were no objections to calling it quits when it was time to finish.
I have my own projects and writing that I'm going to be working during this time, and of course it's Christmas and I also have family to visit with, so at various times I may not be in the sync-video chat room. Please take this whole business as the light-hearted and whimsical video show/riffing practice/emotional support/virtual egg nog buddy it's intended to be. An alternative to 24 Hours Of A Christmas Story!

That's all. I hope you can drop by this year!
posted by JHarris to MetaFilter-Related at 3:29 PM (17 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

I'm all in! Last year was a blast!
posted by valkane at 5:37 PM on December 21, 2015

You're a goddamn institution, JHarris.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:01 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

I know you've put in a lot of work for your current setup, but it might be worth checking out this option: https://github.com/calzoneman/sync

It's what sites like taima.tv and cytu.be use for group watching of youtubes and livestreams and I'd imagine it'd work out better than splitting up tons of hour+ videos into five minute chunks.

Bonus link to a 24/7 stream of MST3k from one of the aforementioned sites.
posted by flatluigi at 7:38 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ah! It is worth investigating, thanks!
posted by JHarris at 9:12 PM on December 21, 2015

Aaah flatluigi, the requirements for that seem to be beyond me at the moment. The time required to set it up alone would be prohibitive, as would having a dedicated server, and of course learning how to do all that. Maybe for next year.
posted by JHarris at 11:53 PM on December 21, 2015

I haven't managed to get in to any of the weekly streams, but the recent kickstarter stories have rekindled my interest in MST3K, so I'll try to pop in when I can for the marathon.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:04 AM on December 22, 2015

Thanks for doing this. Hope to stop by and share some time with y'all.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:55 AM on December 22, 2015

Whee! This sounds great. I've had other commitments on Thursdays lately and have missed the weekly MSTing, but I should be able to enjoy (or "enjoy") some of this.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:30 PM on December 22, 2015

Right on!
posted by holborne at 1:33 PM on December 22, 2015

Please don't consider this a spoiler for the content of the Holiday Stream, but here is something that you maybe should watch first: "In Defense Of The Star Wars Holiday Special" by CRACKED Staff
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:23 PM on December 22, 2015

We can use this thread to pass each other messages and notes regarding the show.

I've started some stuff going. I've noticed that in the playlist riff_christmas_misc, the santariff_128k vids are not playing very well at the moment, possibly because of bandwidth being taken up on my end uploading a few extra things for foop.
posted by JHarris at 11:04 PM on December 22, 2015

It has been mentioned that starting it on the 23rd might be jumping the gun a little, plus we're having some technical issues with a few of the files. So, revised plan:

We're going to continue to try to have it running throughout the 23rd, but coverage may be spotty. At a given moment you jump in, there may or may not be something running, depending on whether we're catching up on sleep or not. The real marathon should be considered to beginning on Christmas Eve at 6 AM Eastern, but I (and maybe the others) will try to be around throughout the 23rd for holiday showings.

Again, please bear with us, the whole setup is pretty ad hoc when it comes down to it.
posted by JHarris at 3:16 AM on December 23, 2015

We're up and running! Coming up next: MST3K 521 - Santa Claus
posted by valkane at 5:40 AM on December 23, 2015

Okay, some of the problems we had last year seem to be reasserting themselves, so I have started implementing "Plan B." Taking flatluigi's advice above, I've created a channel at cytu.be that has much of the same content, although there are still some playlists that need to be implemented there.

One interesting thing about cytu.be's programming is that it seems it can run unattended, and effectively runs even if no one is in the room, so it doesn't actually need us moderating it, or that's how it appears to me, so you're less likely to run into one of us there. If you are having trouble with the sync-video room, you may want to give the above link a try. It is very new and untested to me, but the fact that the code is public and seems to be undergoing development is a big plus in my book.

Well, it is a second option. Maybe join alternate-us, won't you?
posted by JHarris at 8:01 AM on December 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well I'm writing during the closing hours of the event. We got an okay turnout, a lot of people showed up and immediately left though, I hope everything was good for people. We didn't just do MST stuff this year because it was a lot of time to fill with what amounts to three hours over and over. We had a Space Ghost Christmas and the two Brak shows (the good, variety-show themed ones), the Star Wars Holiday Specials, and some Rifftrax thrown in (legal and paid for by moi!), as well as Film Crew movies, MST shorts, some terrible cartoons and miscellaneous other things.

sync-video problems turned up again, enough so that I think we're going to transition away from it to cytu.be for our weekly MST showings. We're finishing up with the Star Wars Holiday Special again, and maybe Ice Cream Bunny after. Thanks for dropping by everyone, and extra thanks to oneswellfoop and valkane, who spent considerable time out of their holidays to greatly assist with event continuity this year.

Good night all!
posted by JHarris at 5:26 PM on December 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks to all who helped it go! It was fun to drop in.

FWIW, Cytu.be had no tech problems on my end, and I liked the chat and layout better too, so I think it's a good move.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:45 AM on December 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I tried to drop in a few times, but our net connection was flaky all day long. Thanks for doing it, though! I'll definitely show up next time, my ISP willing.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:45 PM on December 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

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