How to capture video in your frame

Webcam video recording during Lookit frames is currently accomplished using WebRTC as the interface to the webcam and Pipe for video streaming and processing.

Lookit frames that collect video data make use of an Ember mixin VideoRecord included in ember-lookit-frameplayer, which makes a VideoRecorderObject available for use in the code for that frame. This object includes methods for showing/hiding the webcam view, starting/pausing/resuming/stopping video recording, installing/destroying the recorder, and checking the current video timestamp.

The programmer designing a new frame can therefore flexibly indicate when recording should begin and end, as well as recording video timestamps for any events recorded during this frame (e.g., so that during later data analysis, researchers know the exact time in the video where a new stimulus was presented). The name(s) of any videos collected during a particular frame as included in the session data recorded, to facilitate matching sessions to videos; video filenames also include the study ID, session ID, frame ID, and a timestamp.

To begin, you will want to add the VideoRecord mixin to your experiment frame. This provides, but does not in itself activate, the capability for your frame to record videos.

import ExpFrameBaseComponent from '../../components/exp-frame-base/component';
import VideoRecord from '../../mixins/video-record';

export default ExpFrameBaseComponent.extend(VideoRecord, {
    // Your code here


One technical challenge imposed by webcam video streaming is that a connection to the server must be established before webcam recording can be quickly turned on, and this process may take up to a few seconds. If you are setting up your frame to create a separate video clip, you will need to design your frame to wait for recording to begin before proceeding to a portion of the trial where video data is required. This fits well with typical study designs using looking time or preferential looking, where the child’s attention is returned to the center of the screen between trials; the first few seconds of the child watching the “attention grabber” are not critical and we can simply ensure that the webcam connection is established before proceeding to the actual experimental trial. When collecting verbal responses, the study frame can simply pause until the connection is established or, similarly, proceed with an initial portion of the trial where video data is not required.

You can also plan for users of your frame to turn on continuous recording using multi-frame or ‘session’ recordings, either using the exp-lookit-start-recording and exp-lookit-stop-recording frames or by directly setting the startSessionRecording and endSessionRecording parameters.

How it works

The VideoRecord mixin is how a new frame makes use of video recording functionality. In turn, this mixin uses the video-recorder service, which relies on Pipe. To set everything up from scratch, e.g. if you’re creating Mookit, an online experimental platform for cows, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Make a Pipe account, and get the account hash and environment ID where you want to send videos.
  • Create an Amazon S3 bucket (where video will be sent by Pipe, then renamed). Set up Pipe to send your videos to this bucket; you’ll need to create an access key that just allows putting videos in this bucket. Go to IAM credentials, and make a group with the following policy:
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Sid": "VisualEditor0",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": "s3:ListAllMyBuckets",
            "Resource": "*"
            "Sid": "VisualEditor1",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": "s3:GetBucketLocation",
            "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::*"
            "Sid": "VisualEditor2",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": "s3:PutObject",
            "Resource": [

Then make a user, and add it to your new group. Use the keys for this user in Pipe.

  • Create a webhook key in Pipe, and store it in as PIPE_WEBHOOK_KEY in the lookit-api Django app .env file. This will let Lookit rename the video files to something sensible upon being uploaded to S3.
  • Create a webhook in Pipe for the event video_copied_s3, and send it to https://YOURAPP/exp/renamevideo/
  • Store the PIPE_ACCOUNT_HASH and PIPE_ENVIRONMENT in the ember-lookit-frameplayer .env file. This is what lets Lookit video go to the right Pipe account.