Audio & Video Features

User Settings Overview

This article covers all of the available settings for controlling your Gather experience. Your first opportunity to set your audio and video on what we call the Check Your Hair screen. Once in a Space, you can fine tune your experience on Gather by opening Settings (Ctrl/⌘+P). Use these links to skip to the section you're interested in:

Check Your Hair

Every time you enter a Gather Space, you see what we call the Check Your Hair screen (because you get to see your video preview and check your hair!). This modal shows a preview of your Gather character, a preview of your video feed, and the A/V selections for your camera, mic, and speakers. 

A screenshot of the Check Your Hair screen. The text reads "Welcome Riley!" above the character preview. A character wearing a blue hat and blue tshirt shows. A video preview currently displays "You are muted" and "Your camera is off" with two red icons of a slashed mic and slashed camera. Three drop-down fields are available to select your camera, mic, and speaker inputs. A Join the Gathering button displays at the bottom of the modal. Beneath the button is text that reads "By joining this room, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and confirm that you're over 13 years of age."Each time you enter a Gather Space, you see the "Check Your Hair" screen, which shows a preview of your Gather character, your video feed, and your A/V selections.

You can edit your name and character on the Check Your Hair screen by selecting Edit Character, which will open the character picker. Select the mic and camera icons on the video preview to turn your mic and camera feed on or off prior to entering the Space. You can also change your input for camera and mic and output for speakers using the three drop-down fields. When you're ready to join, select Join the Gathering

Note: When you're in a Space, you can see your video preview on the left of your toolbar. Select the mic and camera icons in the toolbar to turn your mic and camera on or off. Select your video in the toolbar to enlarge or pin your video feed.

Audio / Video Settings

To manage your audio and video settings while in the Space, open Settings. Select the User tab, then select Audio / Video.

To manage your devices and other A/V settings, select the User tab in Settings, then select Audio / Video.

Devices

Open the drop-down fields to change your camera, mic, or speaker selections. 

Note: If you do not see any options in the drop-down fields for Devices, check your browser settings. If you're on a Mac, you may need to check your system settings as well.

Warning: Firefox does not allow you to select your speaker output. 

Audio Level

Select Start playback to test your microphone. When you are finished testing, select Stop playback.

A screenshot of the fancy office template with the Settings modal open. The User tab is selected with the Audio & Video category active. A red outline displays around the Audio Level settings. A noise indicator is lit up with green bars about halfway. A Stop playback button displays. From User Settings, select Start playback to test your audio. Select Stop playback when you're finished.

Large Grid

By default, large grid is turned on to display up to 16 videos at a time. Toggle this off to view no more than 9 videos at a time, which may improve your performance.

Note: Read more about the video carousel for different video viewing options.

Auto Idle Muting

By default, auto idle muting is turned on so that your audio and video feed turn off whenever you are tabbed away from the Gather window and not connected to others. When you return to your Gather window by clicking in the Space, you will automatically be unmuted and your camera will turn back on. If you turn auto idle muting off, your camera and video will remain on unless you manually turn your mic and camera on or off, even while you use other windows or applications.

A modal reads You were auto muted while away. Gather will automatically turn off video and mute your audio when you're tabbed away. A Got it button displays below, with a link to change settings. When you are tabbed away from Gather, auto idle muting automatically turns off your mic and camera. You see this message on your return.

Tip: If you want to hear any time someone walks up to you in your Gather Space, turn Auto idle muting off.

Note: When you are inside of an iframe (interacting with an interactive object such as an embedded video or website) and not connected to others, you may be automatically muted. This is because the iframe is in "focus," as opposed to the Gather app itself, which has a similar effect to being tabbed away. When you close the embedded object or click in the Gather Space, Gather should automatically unmute you.

Use HD Video Quality

By default, you will see HD videos if the people you are connected with are transmitting an HD video stream. You can turn this feature off to connect to SD video quality instead, which may improve your performance.

Chat Sounds

By default, chat sounds are turned on. Toggle off this setting to mute the notification noise for new chat messages.

Space Notifications

By default, Space notifications are off. Toggle on to receive a notification from your browser when the number of guests in the Space goes from zero to one.

Note: This setting is currently in beta, so it will only display if beta features are enabled in the Space.

Warning:  You may need to allow notifications from Gather in your browser to receive the alert.

SFX Volume

Drag the SFX volume slider to adjust the audio level of any sounds in the Map (such as ambient noises or embedded media).

A screenshot of the fancy office template with the Settings modal open. The User tab is selected with the Audio & Video category active. A red outline displays around SFX volume, auto idle muting, use hd video quality, and use original audio. Auto idle muting and Use HD video quality are toggled on, and Use Original Audio is toggled off. The SFX volume slide is at the maximum end.You can manage in-Space sounds using the SFX volume slider.

Use Original Audio

By default, original audio is turned off so that Gather can reduce echoes and suppress background noises. You can enable original audio to gain full control over your audio, which may also improve your performance.

Debug Mode

By default, debug mode is turned off. Turn this mode on if you would like to see info on incoming/outgoing audio and video. This feature is generally helpful when working with Gather staff to troubleshoot. You can also toggle this on/off with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/⌘+D.

Appearance

To manage your settings related to what you see while in the Space, open Settings. Select the User tab, then select Appearance.

The User Settings modal with Appearance active. Navigation 2.0, beta features, use smart zoom, and reduce motion are features with toggles to turn on or off. You can manage settings related to what you see in Gather in the Appearance section of User Settings.

Beta Features

If you want to be first to experience features we're developing and testing, turn on beta features. 

Use Smart Zoom

By default, Smart Zoom is turned on to provide you the best view of your Space based on the size of your browser window. You can turn off Smart Zoom to manually control your view of the Space. 

Warning: When you turn off Smart Zoom, scroll to zoom is enabled. Use the scroll wheel to zoom in or out of the Space.

Manual Map Zoom

When Smart Zoom is turned off, you can manually adjust the view of the Map. You can select a percentage or a point on the slider (or use scroll to zoom with your mouse while in the Space). 

The Settings modal open with the User tab selected and the General category active. A red outline displays around the Smart Zoom and Manual Canvas Zoom features. Smart Zoom is toggled off, and a line displays under Manual Canvas Zoom with dots every increment of 50%. The max zoom is 400%. You can turn off Smart Zoom to manually control the view of the Space, up to 400%. Changing the canvas zoom affects the view of the Map, not the size of the interface. 

Note: Using the browser zoom function enlarges or shrinks the entire window, including the navigation menus and windows, whereas Manual Zoom just enlarges or shrinks the view of the Space.

Reduce Motion

By default, reduce motion is turned off. Toggle this setting on to limit the amount of animation displayed on the screen. (This may improve your performance, as well.)

Name Label Size

By default, name label size is set at 12 px. You can manually adjust the font size by dragging the slider or selecting one of the font sizes specified on the slider. 

Constant Name Sizes

By default, constant name sizes is on so that your avatar's name label displays the same size regardless of the Map zoom level. Toggle this setting off to allow the name label to dynamically size with the Map zoom level.

Tooltip Label Size

By default, tooltip label size is set at 13 px. (Tooltips are the messages that display for interactive objects.) You can manually adjust the tooltip font size by dragging the slider or selecting one of the font sizes specified on the slider. 

Constant Tooltip Sizes

By default, constant tooltip sizes is on so that the tooltip font displays the same size regardless of the Map zoom level. Toggle this setting off to allow the tooltip labels to dynamically size with the Map zoom level.

Graphics Settings

To manage graphics settings while in the Space, open Settings in the Left Nav Menu. Select the User tab, then select Graphics

The Settings modal open with the User tab selected and the Graphics category active. Hardware Acceleration can be toggled on or off, and you can adjust your frame rate with a slider.To manage graphics settings, which may improve your performance, select Settings in the Left Nav Menu. Select the User tab, then select Graphics.

Hardware Acceleration

By default, hardware acceleration is turned on to use your computer's graphics card when rendering Gather. Toggle this setting off if you are experiencing issues with graphics loading on your screen.

Limit Frame Rate

By default, your frames per second (fps) display at the highest level to provide the best video experience of Gather. Drag the slider to lower fps, which may improve your performance. 

Proximity A/V

Gather uses proximity video chat. This means the audio and video of a person grows clearer as you walk closer to them and fades out as you walk away. You begin connecting with someone who is five tiles from you, and you are fully connected when you are within two tiles of each other. 

Exceptions

  • Private areas: In a private area, you connect to the a/v of everyone who is in the same private area as you. 
  • Quiet mode: In quiet mode, you only connect to someone's a/v who is within one tile of you. 
  • Ghost mode: In ghost mode, you do not connect to anyone's a/v. 

Video Carousel

When there are multiple people in one gathering, a select number of video feeds will show at the top of your screen. The number of video feeds that display depend on the size of your browsing window and resolution of your screen.

Video Carousel

You can scroll between videos manually by clicking the arrows to the left and right of the videos shown. This is called the video carousel.

A view of five video feeds displays at the top of the screen. Red arrows point to the left and right chevrons that allow you to scroll through the available videos. The expanding arrows icon is outlined in red. You can navigate through your video carousel by clicking the arrows on either side of your screen. You can switch to grid view by clicking the expanding arrows icon at the upper right of the grid.

Grid View

To increase the number of videos visible to you or to enlarge the videos you are currently seeing, you can enter grid view by selecting the expanding arrows icon. Grid view displays up to 16 videos / screen shares in a grid format. To exit grid view, select the collapsing arrows icon at the upper right of the grid. 

Grid view is on and eleven video feeds display. The collapsing arrows icon is outlined in red.When you are in Grid View, you can collapse back to the regular Video Carousel by clicking the button in the upper right corner of the screen. 

Video Prioritization

When someone first joins an ongoing group conversation, they will appear at the end of your video carousel. Whenever they speak, their video will show in the carousel if they aren't already visible on your screen. This helps sort the videos you see so that the most active contributors in a conversation will automatically display in your carousel. When anyone speaks, their video preview will also be outlined in green. 

Enlarge a Video

To focus on one person's video (or screen share), click on that person's feed. The rest of the videos will display in a vertical row on the left of the screen. If the Build, Calendar, Chat, or Participants pane is open, collapse it for the largest view.

Muting Users

To turn off another person's audio or video feed, just hover over their video feed and select the microphone or camera icon. Keep in mind this just stops their feed to you, not to anyone else.

To turn someone's audio or video off, hover over their feed and select the mic or camera icon.

Note: If you turn off another person's audio or video for yourself, if they leave your range of conversation and return, it will reset the setting so that you will be able to see and hear them again. 


Ambient Noise

We offer sound emitter objects to add ambient background noise to your Space, such as ocean waves or cafe chatter. You can manually add sound emitters or objects with sound to your Space, or your template or object may come with a sound emitter already embedded (e.g., beach and island templates typically have the ocean sound emitter, and fountain objects have water trickling).  

Add Sound Emitter

If you would like to add a sound emitter or object with sound effects to your Space, open the Object Picker. Enter "sound" in the Search bar or select Sounds from the Left Nav Menu of the Object Picker. Select the object you wish to place and add it to your Space.

A view of the Object Picker with the Sound category selected. A fire pit, two fountains, and several sound emitters display as options. A red outline is drawn around the speaker icon that shows under the Fire Pit label.To add ambient noise to your Space, open the Object Picker and select the Sounds category. Objects that have sounds display a speaker (See fire pit) or are speakers on top of a pole.

Note: A speaker icon next to the object indicates that the object has sound effects embedded in it.

Adjust Sound Level

When you place a sound emitter or object with sound in your Space, the noise grows louder as your character walks closer to the object/emitter and fades as you walk away. If you would like to manually adjust the sound level of the ambient noise, open Settings and select the User tab. In the Audio / Video section, use the volume slider under SFX volume to adjust the noise level of all in-Map sounds. 

A view of the User Settings with Audio & Video active. The volume slider of the SFX volume is all the way up.Open Settings, select the User tab, and in the Audio / Video section, adjust the volume slider for SFX volume.

Note: Adjusting the SFX volume only applies to your experience; this does not change the sound level for other people in the Space.

Remove Sound Emitter

If you want to remove a sound emitter or object with sound, use the Erase tool either by selecting Build in the Left Nav Menu and selecting the Erase tab, or by entering the Mapmaker and selecting the Erase tool while Objects is selected in the Top Nav Menu. Click on the object to remove it. Select Save if you are erasing from the Mapmaker. 

Refresh the Space to apply the change. (Anyone currently in the Space should also refresh to experience the change.)

A view of the rooftop template in Mapmaker. A red outline is drawn around the Erase tool in the Left Nav Menu, and a red arrow points to a sound emitter object with a red outline around it. The sound emitter object looks like a pole with speakers on it.Use the Erase tool and click the sound object to remove it.

Note: Only Admins and Builders can use the Erase tool to remove sound emitters. If you're not sure what sound object you're looking for, search for the speakers on a pole in your Space or use the Sound category in the Object Picker to see which objects have sounds. Refresh the page to apply the change.

Tip: Love an object that we have but don't want the built-in sound effects? From the Object Picker, in the Object Details preview of the object, right click and select Save Image As to download the image. Then upload the image as a custom object. No more sound!

Screen Sharing

You can share your screen with all of the people you are connected to on Gather. To do so, select Screen Share in the toolbar. The process for sharing screens varies by browser and purpose.

Sharing in Chrome

Any time you screen share in Chrome, you are given the opportunity to share an Entire Screen (choose from any monitors you have), from a Window (choose from any program open on your machine), or from a Chrome Tab (choose from a specific tab in Chrome).

The screen share window in Chrome open to the Entire Screen tab, which shows three screens. The Screen Share icon is outlined in red with an arrow pointing to the Chrome window.Select Screen Share in the toolbar. If you are in Chrome, select the screen, window, or tab to share.

When you have selected the screen, window, or tab you wish to display, select Share

Sharing in Firefox

Any time you screen share in Firefox, you are given the opportunity to share a window or screen. The drop-down list will display all options for sharing, which include sharing a window (any open program) as well as your screen (entire monitor).

The screen share window in Firefox for choosing whether to share a window or screen. The screen share monitor icon is outlined in the toolbar, with an arrow pointing to the Firefox screen share window.Select Screen Share in the toolbar. If you are in Firefox, select the window or screen to share.

When you have selected the window or screen you wish to share, a preview will display. Select Allow to begin sharing that program or window.

Sharing in Safari

Any time you screen share in Safari (the desktop browser, not the mobile browser), you will need to grant Gather access. Select Allow to screen share. You only have the option to share the screen (monitor) that Safari displays on. 

The screen share window in Safari to allow screen share. The screen share monitor icon is outlined in the toolbar, with an arrow pointing to the Safari screen share window.Select Screen Share in the toolbar. If you are in Safari, select Allow to share your current window.

If you accidentally select Don't Allow, refresh the page to be prompted again. If you accidentally click Never for This Website, or if you want to have Safari automatically authorize Gather, open Safari Preferences. Select Websites in the top panel, then select Screen Sharing. Grant Gather access by selecting Ask in the drop-down field.

The Safari preferences modal, open to Websites and Screen Sharing. Ask is selected for app.gather.town.From Safari Preferences, select Websites, then Screen Sharing. Select Ask for app.gather.town.

Warning: We do not currently support other browsers, so we have not included information for screen sharing outside of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Sharing Slides

To share a PowerPoint or slidedeck, select Screen share in the toolbar, and in your browser's screen sharing window, select Window. Then select the window that's showing the presentation. If you have multiple monitors, you can select the window that's displaying the fullscreen slideshow. 

A screenshot of the fancy office template, with the screenshare window open. A red outline is drawn around the Window tab on the screenshare window. Another red box is drawn around the window that shows "PowerPoint Slide Show."To screen share a slide show, select the Window tab in your browser's screen sharing window. Then select the preview that's displaying the fullscreen presentation.

Sharing Audio

To share audio while screen sharing in Chrome, (1) select Screen share in the toolbar, (2) select Chrome tab in the Choose what to share window, and (3) select the Chrome tab that has the audio. Make sure Share tab audio is selected.

The screen share window in Chrome with Share tab outlined in red, with a YouTube tab outlined in red, and the Share audio from tab selected and outlined in red.To screen share with audio, (1) select Screen share in the toolbar, (2) select Chrome tab, and (3) select the desired tab. Make sure Share tab audio is selected.

Sharing Video

If you are screen sharing media, you can toggle on Optimize for video. This changes your screen sharing to HD, which will provide a better viewing experience. However, this means you will be sharing more data, so it could cause performance issues for the person sharing or those watching.

A screen is being shared, and above the screen share icon, an Optimize for video feature is toggled on. When you screen share, you can toggle on Optimize for video for an improved experience.

Modes

Do Not Disturb Mode

To connect only to the audio and video of people right next to you (within one tile), turn on Do Not Disturb mode from your personal menu or by pressing Ctrl/⌘ + U. Your status indicator will turn red in the toolbar, next to your name in the Participants list, and on your name label. 

Sam is sitting on a blue couch and Riley is two tiles away from Sam. An annotation reads You do not connect to others' a/v unless you are within one tile of them.Riley is in Quiet Mode, as seen by the red status indicator, and they are not connected to Sam because they're two tiles apart.

Ghost Mode

If you are blocked in by other people or you want to enter a spot where all the seats are taken, press and hold the "g" key to enter Ghost Mode. This allows you to pass through tiles that are occupied by other people.

A gif of Riley entering ghost mode and walking through Sam. When Riley is in ghost mode, they become semi-transparent.Riley enters ghost mode by holding the "g" key and can walk through Sam.

Warning: While in Ghost mode, you will be disconnected from everyone and will be unable to make new audio or video connections until you exit Ghost mode.

Dance Mode

You can dance by pressing "z" on your keyboard. To stop dancing, use the arrow or WASD keys.

Riley begins pumping their arms up and down and wiggling their hips. Sam is also dancing to the right of Riley.Riley and Sam are dancing by pressing "z"!

Debug Mode

You can view details on incoming/outgoing audio and video from User Settings > Audio/Video and toggling on Debug mode or by pressing Ctrl/⌘ + Shift + D. This is mostly used for troubleshooting issues with Gather support staff.

System Requirements

Gather can be used on any computer (laptop or desktop), on any OS (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), using one of our supported web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari). Our Safari and Linux experience are currently in beta, as is our desktop app.

Warning: You can access Gather on your mobile device or tablet; however, the mobile-responsive experience is in development. Use a desktop browser for the best experience!

We recommend the following system specifications for an ideal experience:

  • 2.4 ghz dual core
  • 8 gb RAM

For internet speeds, we recommend:

  • 10 Mbps download speed 
  • 3 Mbps upload speed 

Your experience will vary based on the total number of video feeds you are connected to and whether you have "HD Video Quality" toggled on (User Settings > Audio/Video). The number of videos you are connected to is based on the number of participants you are actively video chatting with. It will be more taxing on your computer if you are connected to 20 or more participants as opposed to being connected to one or two people. You may still be able to experience most of the features of Gather with a minimum of 3Mbps down/1Mbsp up; however, you will experience more lag as you connect to more people.