Conference layouts and speaker names

A layout is the view that each participant has of all the other participants in the meeting. The layout for a meeting is configured in advance by the administrator, but can be changed during the meeting by Host participants using SIP/H.323 endpoints that support DTMF keypad controls or by using the Infinity Connect client.

A wide range of layouts are available, including Pexip's AI-driven Adaptive Composition layout and a variety of classic layouts that have different combinations of speaker-focused and equally-sized participant arrangements. By default, the "Large main speaker and up to 7 other participants" (1+7) layout is assigned to each VMR.

Other layout features you can enable include showing the names of active speakers and participants as text overlays, and spotlighting (pinning) nominated participants into the primary positions in the stage layout.

There are also some differences in layout behavior depending on whether the conference is being held in a Virtual Meeting Room (including scheduled conferences) or a Virtual Auditorium.

Adaptive Composition layout

Adaptive Composition is an intelligent meeting layout with real-time automatic face detection and framing:

  • Powered by AI and machine learning to give users a more natural, engaging, video-first meeting experience.
  • It continuously analyzes each video feed from all participants and uses automatic face detection and framing to create an optimized view of that participant, or group of participants where there are several people in that video feed.

  • Layout placement of each participant is based on a combination of face count (number of faces detected within that participant's video feed) and their recent speaking frequency, so as to allocate more space for larger groups of people.
  • Independent of where the participants are and which device they are using. No end-user action or configuration is required.

When using the Adaptive Composition layout:

  • A maximum of 12 video participants are shown, spread across one row of 2 large images, a middle row of 3 slightly smaller images and a bottom row of 7 thumbnail images.
  • Single-screen endpoints automatically receive any presentation content as part of the layout mix (replacing some of the other video participants), rather than as a separate stream.
  • Any inactive video participants are automatically removed from the video layout. This is triggered if the participant:

    • Walks away from the camera, leaving an empty chair in frame i.e. no face is detected.
    • Points the camera at the ceiling or other place where no movement is detected.
    • Physically closes the camera lid or puts a cover over the camera.

    Note that these participants still continue to receive the full video layout.

    The participant is returned to the video layout if video is restored, or if any faces or movement are detected.

  • All conference indicators, such as participant counts, audio participants, recording indicators and locked status are shown at the top-center of the layout. (The 1+33 layout also displays its indicators at the top of the layout.)
  • An extended Adaptive Composition view is also available* where up to 23 video participants may be shown, initially across three rows (2/3/7 extending to 2/5/7 and then 3/5/7) and then across four rows (3/5/7/8) when required. This is a technical preview feature and it can only be enabled via the transforms functions in the Pexip client APIs (transformLayout (PexRTC client API) and transform_layout (REST client API)).

The conference indicators shown at the top-center of the layout include:

Total participant count. This is displayed when there are more participants than can be shown in the current layout.
Number of participants connected as audio-only.

Number of inactive video participants and video-muted Infinity Connect participants, who are excluded from the video layout.

An audio or inactive video participant's display name is shown if they start speaking.
Conference locked indicator.
Conference locked/unlocked messages are temporarily displayed when a conference is locked/unlocked.
Recording / streaming indicator.

This layout increases backplane bandwidth and CPU resource usage. See Hardware resource allocation rules for more information.

Adaptive Composition is fully supported in all Pexip Infinity conferences, and gateway calls to Microsoft Teams. It is a technology preview feature in gateway calls to Google Meet.

Note that Adaptive Composition applies face-detection technology, but does not apply any biometric or facial-recognition technology or store any such related data.

Classic layouts

In addition to Adaptive Composition, you can select from a range of other classic layouts for your Virtual Meeting Rooms and Virtual Auditoriums. These alternative layouts do not apply any face detection or framing technologies.

Speaker-focused layouts

The set of speaker-focused layout options are:

  • 1+7 (1 large main speaker and up to 7 other participants) — this is the default layout
  • 1+0 (full-screen main speaker only)
  • 1+21 (1 main speaker and up to 21 other participants)
  • 2+21 (2 main speakers and up to 21 other participants)
  • 1+33 (1 main speaker and up to 33 other participants)

Equal layouts

The set of equal layout options are:

  • 2x2 (4 speakers)
  • 3x3 (9 speakers)
  • 4x4 (16 speakers)
  • 5x5 (25 speakers)

For full details on the differences between these layouts, see Virtual Meeting Room layouts and the examples.

Showing the names of active speakers and participants

Each Virtual Meeting Room and Virtual Auditorium can be configured to show the names of the participants in a text overlay along the bottom of their video image.

To turn on participant names by default for a service:

  1. Go to Services > Virtual Meeting Rooms, Services > Virtual Auditoriums or Services > Scheduled Conferences and select the service you want to change.
  2. Next to the Show names of participants field select Yes.
  3. Some layouts (Adaptive Composition, 2x2, 3x3, 4x4, 5x5, and 1+33) also let you choose to Show name of active speaker, as well as, or instead of, showing the names of all participants.

    • When participant names and active speaker display are both enabled, the name of the person speaking is shown in green instead of white.
    • When only active speaker display is enabled, the name of the person speaking fades in and then fades out again after a few seconds.

Host participants on Infinity Connect clients can dynamically change the layout during a conference and they can also show/hide participant names: from the top of the side panel in the client, select Control and then select Change layout. An overlay dialog opens from where you can select a layout and control the display of participant names.

You can also use local policy to enable participant names for gateway calls into Microsoft Teams or Google Meet conferences. See Example local policy scripts for more information.

When text overlay is enabled, the name that is shown depends upon whether the participant was invited into the conference, the type of endpoint device, and whether the participant had to authenticate, as follows:

  • Automatically dialed participants (regardless of the type of endpoint that was dialed): either the ADP's configured Participant display name or, if this field is blank, the Participant alias, is shown.
  • Manually dialed participants (regardless of the type of endpoint that was dialed): either the participant's configured Participant display name or, if this field is blank, the Participant alias, is shown.
  • Infinity Connect participants: the text that the user entered into the initial Type your name here field is shown, unless participant authentication has been enabled for the VMR, in which case the name shown is that provided by the Identity Provider.
  • SIP endpoints: the endpoint's display name is shown.
  • H.323 endpoints: the endpoint's alias is shown.
  • Skype for Business / Lync clients: the username portion of the user's sign-in address is used, for example if Alice signs in as alice@example.com the text alice is shown.

The size of the text overlay varies automatically according to the resolution being received by the endpoint and the type of layout. In low resolutions the text overlays are not shown.

The default font for the in-conference display of participant names is Roboto (which cannot be changed), or if that is not available for the character set, Noto Sans.

Dynamic layout controls, presenting content and single/multiscreen endpoints

Participants have a range of options for dynamically controlling the layout of a conference, how presentation content is displayed, and some additional layout options for multiscreen endpoints.

The options are summarized below, but for more information about the dynamic layout controls, see Controlling the layout during a conference and Using a DTMF keypad to control a conference.

  • Changing the layout during a conference: host participants on video endpoints can change the layout currently being used in the conference by sending DTMF/keypad commands to the conference.
  • Receiving the presentation stream as part of the layout mix: when using Adaptive Composition, single-screen endpoints automatically receive the presentation stream as part of the layout mix (replacing some of the other video participants), but you can choose to switch to receiving it as a separate stream.
  • Multiscreen participant display: if you have a dual screen endpoint you can display conference participants across both screens, effectively allowing you to show more participants than if you have a single screen. This display mode is currently only available for certain meeting and layout types.

Determining if an endpoint has single or multiple screens

Pexip Infinity follows a set of rules to determine whether a specific endpoint is a single-screen or dual-screen device and thus whether it can send presentation content in the layout mix, or make use of multiscreen participant display:

  1. In the first instance, if provided by the endpoint, Pexip Infinity uses the display count signaled in the contact header.
  2. Otherwise, if the endpoint's user agent string is listed in the theme's vendordata.json file, the screen count as defined in that file is used.
  3. Finally, if the endpoint does not signal the screen count and the device is not listed in the theme's vendordata.json file, then:

    • When content is being presented, a separate presentation stream is always sent to the endpoint.
    • Multiscreen participant display is not available.

For more information about the vendordata.json file, see Theme configuration.

Allowing end-users to change the default layout

A VMR's settings for its layout and display of participant names are initially assigned when the VMR is created by the administrator.

The Pexip VMR self-service portal is a separately-installable component that allows end-users to manage their personal Virtual Meeting Room without having to send requests to their administrator to change the configuration of their VMR.

See About the VMR self-service portal for more information.

Spotlighting a participant (classic layouts only)

Host participants using an Infinity Connect client can "spotlight" themselves or other participants in the meeting.

The spotlight feature locks any spotlighted participants in the primary positions in the stage layout, ahead of any current speakers. When any participants have been spotlighted, the first one to be spotlighted has the main speaker position, the second one has the second position (leftmost small video, for example), and so on. All remaining participants are arranged by most recent voice activity, as is default.

In a Virtual Auditorium, where Guests cannot see other Guests, if a Guest participant has been spotlighted they will only appear in the main video for Host participants; other Guests will not be able to see the spotlighted Guest.

When Lock presenter as main speaker has been selected, a spotlighted participant will appear in the main video ahead of any presenters.

To spotlight a participant, from the Infinity Connect client Participant list, select the participant and then select Spotlight.

Host participants using Infinity Connect can also use the commands/spotlight on [participant] and /spotlight off [participant].

Endpoints that support FECC can also be spotlighted while the FECC dialog is open.

Note that spotlighting is not supported in the Adaptive Composition layout.

Features common to all layouts

The following layout features and characteristics apply to all layout types (Adaptive Composition and classic layouts):

  • Any video-muted Infinity Connect participant, or a participant who joins without a camera, is removed from the video mix and is included in the inactive/muted indicator count.
  • When a participant is the only device that is sending video, that participant sees a holding screen until other video participants join the conference. The holding screen indicates either that the participant is the only participant in the conference, or that all of the other participants are audio-only (and they are shown via their audio-only indicators as usual). The holding images are fully customizable via the theme associated with the service (Virtual Meeting Room, Call Routing Rule etc).
  • A full list of participants is available using Infinity Connect clients.

Layout features common to classic layouts

Pexip Infinity's classic layout types (1+7, 2x2 and so on, with the exception of the 1+33 layout) provide similar features to Adaptive Composition in terms of showing participant numbers, lock status and so on, but these various indicators are in different positions within the layout:

  • When there are between one and four audio-only or inactive-video participants, each is represented by an indicator on the left side of the video window. By default this is either the audio-only icon or the video-muted icon . However, it will display the participant's image/avatar instead if it is available, such as via policy profiles or user records. When an audio-only or video-muted Infinity Connect participant is speaking, their indicator expands to show their name in addition to the image or icon.

    The name that is shown is decided as described in Showing the names of active speakers and participants below.

    Individual audio-only and video-muted indicators, minimized and expanded

  • If there are five or more audio-only or video-muted Infinity Connect participants, they are represented by a single summarized indicator which shows the mix of those participants. When one of the audio-only or video-muted participants speaks, the indicator expands to show their name.

    An example of the minimized and expanded audio-only and video-muted indicators when there are 3 audio-only and 2 video-muted participants

  • Participants who are receiving video but not sending video (for example, if they have joined a video call without a camera) are represented by an icon of a camera with a line through it .
  • Video participants who are on hold, or who are experiencing connectivity issues, are represented by a frozen image.
  • If there are more video participants than there are live thumbnail views available, the last thumbnail is replaced by an icon indicating the number of additional participants not currently visible.
  • If the conference is being streamed or recorded, a streaming or recording icon is displayed to the right of the main video layout, and whenever a new participant joins the conference, and every two minutes otherwise, the icon will briefly slide out and show its associated text — "Streaming enabled" or "Recording". (In adaptive layouts the icon is shown at the top center of the layout.) The icons and text can be changed, and the indicators can be disabled; see Creating and applying themes to conferences.

  • When the conference is locked, or has just been unlocked, a lock icon is displayed to the right of the video window. (This image can be changed; see Creating and applying themes to conferences.)
  • If there are participants waiting to join a locked conference, the number of participants is shown beneath the lock icon.
  • When sending presentation content to a single-stream endpoint or broadcasting via an RTMP stream (when not dialed out with dual streaming), Pexip Infinity sends the video stream of the active speaker in a small window in the upper right corner of the presentation.

Virtual Meeting Room layouts

All video-enabled participants in a Virtual Meeting Room or scheduled conference see the same layout, regardless of whether they are Hosts or Guests. Administrators can select the layout to use for each Virtual Meeting Room, however Hosts can change the layout during the course of a meeting.

To select the layout to be used by default, go to Services > Virtual Meeting Rooms or Services > Scheduled Conferences, select the Virtual Meeting Room, and then select one of the options from the View drop-down menu.

Host participants using Infinity Connect clients can change the layout during the meeting using the /layout command.

The table below lists the layout options that are available. Note that in all cases (except for Adaptive Composition), if one or more participants have been spotlighted, they will take priority over the current speaker.

Virtual Auditorium layouts

In Virtual Auditoriums, Guest participants usually only ever see the Host participants (with some exceptions); however, Hosts will see Hosts and Guests. Administrators choose from separate options for the layout shown to Guests and the layout shown to Hosts (unless using Adaptive Composition). Additionally, administrators can configure the Virtual Auditorium so that when a presentation is being shown, the presenter is kept in the main view. Host participants can change the layout seen by other Hosts during the course of a meeting.

To select the layouts to be used by default, go to Services > Virtual Auditoriums, select the Virtual Auditorium, and then select one of the options from the Host view and Guest view drop-down menus.

Host participants using Infinity Connect clients can change the layout during the meeting using the /layout command.

Host view

The table below lists the layout options that are available. Note that in all cases, if one or more participants have been spotlighted, they will take priority over the current speaker.

Guest view

Guests in a Virtual Auditorium are able to:

  • hear and see the Host participant(s)
  • hear but not see any of the other Guests, even if a Guest is speaking.

However, there are some circumstances where Guests will be able to see other Guests:

  • If all Hosts have left the conference, Guests will be able to see and hear other Guests in the selected layout until the conference is automatically disconnected (after about a minute), or until a Host rejoins.
  • If all Hosts are either control-only or audio-only (i.e. they are not sending video), Guests will be able to see and hear other Guests. If a Host then escalates to use video, Guests will then only be able to see the Host.

The table below lists the layout options that are available. Note that in all cases, if one or more participants have been spotlighted, they will take priority over the current speaker.

Lock presenter as main speaker

You can configure a Virtual Auditorium so that when a presentation is being shown, the main speaker position always shows the presenter instead of the current speaker.

Option Description
Yes

When a presentation is being shown, the selected layout rules are overridden so that:

  • The main speaker position always shows the video image from the endpoint that is showing the presentation, even if others are speaking.
  • The image that would have been shown in the main view is instead shown in the first available thumbnail (for 1+7 and 1+21 layouts) or in the top right view (for 2+21 layout).
No When a presentation is being shown, the main speaker position is voice-switched as usual.

Layout examples

Adaptive Composition layout

Adaptive Composition layout: maximum of 12 video participants are shown, spread across one row of 2 large images, a middle row of 3 slightly smaller images and a bottom row of 7 thumbnail images.

1+7

standard 1+7: main video plus a single row of thumbnails, an indicator showing the number of additional video participants, two icons representing audio-only participants (one with a personal avatar), and a video-muted participant icon.

Equal 2x2

Equal 2x2 main video plus an icon indicating the number of additional participants

Equal 3x3

Equal 3x3 main video plus an icon indicating the number of additional participants

Equal 4x4

Equal 4x4 main video plus an icon indicating the number of additional participants

Equal 5x5

Equal 5x5 main video plus an icon indicating the number of additional participants

1+33

1+33: one main video plus up to 33 thumbnails.

1+0

1+0: full-screen main video plus an icon indicating the number of additional participants

2+21

2+21: two main speakers plus three rows of thumbnails, and an indicator showing the number of additional video participants.

1+21

1+21: main video plus three rows of thumbnails, an indicator showing the number of additional video participants, and an indicator showing the total number of audio-only participants.

Changing aspect ratios

Endpoints send and display video images and presentations in various aspect ratios. The most common ratios are 16:9 and 4:3 (i.e. landscape mode), but mobile devices in particular may send video in portrait mode.

If there is a difference between the aspect ratios of the sending and receiving endpoints, then the receiving endpoint and/or Pexip Infinity may crop the image or add black vertical or horizontal borders (also known as "letterboxing" and "pillarboxing"). Pexip Infinity chooses aspect ratios that maximize interoperability and quality. How and when aspect ratios are changed depends on a number of factors, but the general principles are described below.

Main video

  • Pexip Infinity: If required, Pexip Infinity will change the aspect ratio of main video by cropping the image (to avoid black bars in the thumbnail images). The exception is when video is received in portrait mode; in this case, the image is not cropped and is displayed as is.
  • Endpoints: If the aspect ratio of the main video image being sent from Pexip Infinity does not match the aspect ratio of the receiving endpoint, the endpoint will typically add a border to make it fit. Generally endpoints will not crop the image.

Presentations

  • Pexip Infinity: In general, Pexip Infinity chooses the resolution and aspect ratio that best matches the presentation content and that will not result in both vertical and horizontal borders (also known as "windowboxing") on a 16:9 endpoint display. It will never crop presentations, but may add either pillar or letterboxing to send a resolution that maximizes interoperability.
  • Endpoints: If the aspect ratio of the presentation image being sent from Pexip Infinity does not match the aspect ratio of the receiving endpoint, the endpoint will typically add another border to make it fit. Generally endpoints will not crop the image.