ByteNite Went to Demuxed 2022

Two members of team ByteNite (Fabio and Lauren) had the opportunity to attend Demuxed 2022 – the premiere conference for video developers.

The event took place in the heart of downtown San Francisco, at the Bespoke coworking spaces on the top floor of the Westfield Mall (the same location of Demuxed 2018). Attendees were able to enter the mall before opening hours, and the space was fenced off by security guards and plastic tree hedges. Though this was the first Demuxed to return in person after the pandemic, conference goers were also offered an online streaming option. The vast majority of presenters arrived in person, but a few speakers opted to present remotely through video.

A major running theme of the conference: the difficulties of syncing up sound and video.

The Swag

Let’s start with the basics – everyone at the conference received a gift bag when they checked in, complete with a yellow “Demuxed 2022” T-shirt and Mux themed mug. There was also a blue Nalgene bottle, which came in handy later on as video engineers and solutions architects alike discovered a Bevi water machine with adjustable caffeine levels. I ran into host Matt McClure, and he confessed that he accidentally set his caffeine levels to the maximum and was “vibrating”.

The entrance to the speaking room was lined with booths from sponsors. Amazon in particular were responsible for gifting me at least two pairs of patterned socks. Another highlight of the sponsor booth swag was a Yeti mug from Lumen. The prize for most unique giveaway goes to Twitch, with a tiny Twitch branded “selfie light” that clips on to any smartphone.

The Mux booth featured an old Macintosh computer, circa the 1980’s, where attendees could indulge in a nostalgic game of Tetris. 

The First Day

The first day kicked off with a short history of the Demuxed conference itself, which at one point was known as “SF Vid Con”. The event is so popular that it was referenced on the TV show Silicon Valley, which was mentioned in the intro speech. Concerns about the pandemic were in the past, as the room swelled with (largely maskless) video engineers from notable companies like Google, NBC, CBS, and more. Many attendees were international, hailing from countries as far flung as Australia and Belgium, and flew in specifically for the event. 

Memorable early speeches include a talk on test patterns by Vanessa Pyne of Daily. Of course we saw the famous Big Buck Bunny, along with a few variations on retro broadcasting patterns. Zoe Liu proposed a machine learning solution to set the ideal bitrate on user generated videos. Jean-Baptiste Kempf wore a felt traffic cone hat  (the symbol of VLC media player) while updating the room on new developments in the open source community, including the release of FFmpeg 5.0/5.1. Peter Tseng and Qingyuan Liu of Eluvio discussed FFMARK, an open framework for forensic watermarking.

Attendees walked in and out of the space, but most sat enraptured as new speakers stepped onto the stage every 25 minutes to share their opinions on the most relevant topics in video. In the late afternoon conference goers took a scheduled break for gelato bars in upscale flavors like “cookie butter”.

Happy Hour Event

The day successfully ran from 9 am to 6:20 pm, with host Matt Mclure making note of how remarkably on schedule we were. Conference goers had the opportunity to sign up for one of three happy hour events after the Wednesday presentations. ByteNite opted to go to a party co-hosted by Amazon at the Twitch offices. Twitch obviously knows how to party – after ascending their well-designed stairs, we were led to a room filled with retro TV and gaming stations from the 2000’s. Attendees circled the room, eating mini hamburgers and sipping adult beverages (wine, beer) as they played child friendly games (skee ball, a Stranger Things themed pinball machine).

The Twitch lobby featured an interactive touch screen, along with very tight security (we had pictures taken of our face, along with lanyards, that we had to give back when the night was over)

The Second Day

The first speech began with an intro to the history of frame rates, the perfect background for a conference about video. The speaker explained the original role of fractional frame rates, before advising that the industry should do away with them. A personal highlight was the classic gif of a running horse, its motion going from choppy to smooth as the frame rate increased.

A repeat crowd favorite, Steve Robertson, gave a talk on the fall of HDR video. My favorite part: he shed a spotlight on how “prestige” shows make their composition ultra dark, making it impossible for viewers to see what is happening. He even told us that HBO’s “House of Dragons” was responsible for low-lighting so extreme that viewer complaints made the news.

The final event was not officially listed in the program, and Demuxed billed it as a surprise. A well known parody group (Krazam.TV) returned to lampoon the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) with their latest project. Observe below:

The Afterparty

Demuxed 2022 wound down with a party under the Westfield dome. Conference goers munched on deconstructed tacos, enchiladas, and cupcakes (with and without gluten). Throughout Demuxed, participants regularly lined up for food at booths. The most popular line of all? The afterparty open bar, with a specialty margarita. The music was popping and the conversation was flowing at this professional video conference that ended by 8, leaving enough time for out of towners to catch a late flight out of SFO or Oakland Airport.

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