New feature: Brady Bunch style layout

August 13, 2018 / Jitsi Meet / Jitsi Videobridge / meet.jit.si

Here’s the story of a lovely video layout and a powerful video engine that came together to form a new Brady Bunch style video layout:

The Jitsi team testing the new Brady Bunch video layout option during their stand-up

Each call participant’s individual video size is put into the grid and the grid automatically changes its dimensions as the call grows and shrinks. Now you can see everyone on Jitsi Meet calls at once.

Brady Bunch Layout is Now Available

Our traditional active-speaker layout is great, but sometimes you want to see everyone on the call at the same time. In real “meatspace” conferences in the physical world you can quickly pan around the room to see everyones engagement and reaction. With the new Brady Bunch style layout option, you can now do the same thing on a video call. Just click the 4 square tile button on the right and the layout will instantly switch to this new style. Just click again to switch back.

This new feature is available today – give it a try now on meet.jit.si.

Technical Details

To implement this we leverage the selective forwarding capabilities of the Jitsi Videobridge.  In our usual layout with the active talker in the center and everyone else’s thumbnail, the Videobridge chooses between a low-resolution and high-resolution streams. In this case we need an image that is larger than the usual thumbnail, but smaller than the full resolution active speaker for each conference participant. The size of each user’s video needs to adjust as more users are added and we need to do this without overwhelming any user’s CPU or bandwidth.

We figured out a way to keep our usual Selective Forwarding Unit (SFU) architecture and implement the Brady Bunch layout. In this mode, we dynamically adapt the resolution of each individual stream according to required size of each user’s video in the grid. The video size will decrease as you add more users to the call and grows with fewer users and the system responds in kind by adapting the bandwidth for each video stream as needed.

The view supports as maximum of 5 users wide. After 25 users (in a 5×5 grid) you can scroll to see the additional users (so a 5-wide by n-high grid).

And that’s the way they became the Brady Bunch layout…