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Another Functionality Gap Plugged
Microsoft 365 notification MC400977 (updated August 31) covers the introduction of the Recording video feature in the Stream for SharePoint browser client (Microsoft 365 roadmap item 88522). This is part of the work to replace the old Stream classic browser interface by introducing a new Stream portal. In this instance, the upgrade allows users to create 15-minute videos by recording themselves or their screen.
Users in targeted release tenants should now have this functionality. General availability roll-out is ongoing and should be complete by the end of October.
In passing, it’s worth noting that the beta version of the Stream 2.0 for iOS and Android apps (Figure 1) are available for testing. This version allows users to play videos stored in Stream Classic and Stream for SharePoint. Although, the app doesn’t yet support recording, it’s good to see the ecosystem building out.
Recording a Stream Video
Getting back to the Stream for SharePoint browser client, Microsoft says “Users will now be able to use the new Stream camera to record their webcam, record their screen, add edits (think ink, text, backgrounds, and filters) and upload to their OneDrive. Future iterations of the camera will include more features, such as adding music clips.”
In other words, Stream can use the technologies built into a workstation to record video (webcam) and screen, and then do some basic editing (some applied before recording starts), before storing everything in OneDrive for Business.
To begin, select the big New recording button in the Stream client. This launches a new browser tab ready to record video. Like Teams, Stream supports background effects (referred to as a backdrop), and offers the set of default background images available in Teams along with background blur and the ability to upload an image. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to save a custom background the way you can with Teams, nor does Stream offer the chance to use any custom background images you’ve already uploaded for Teams. As shown in Figure 2, the same green-screen technique is used to place the user in front of the background image. Interestingly, grab handles are available for the user image to allow the user to drag and place their image anywhere on the recording canvas. They can also resize their image to make it larger or smaller as appropriate to the content being recorded.
You can have great fun playing with the effects built into the Stream camera. Anyone who’s accustomed to working with video apps on mobile phones or other platforms will find nothing challenging here. In my case, I limited myself to moving my picture to the bottom right of the backdrop and inserting some text (Figure 3).
When everything’s ready, click the big round record button. Stream starts a three-second countdown (to settle your nerves) and then starts to record. When you’re finished (or come to the end of the 15 minute maximum supported for recordings), hit the stop button. You now have an opportunity to review what Stream captured (Figure 4). If you’re happy to keep the content, click Publish.
When it publishes a video, Stream writes it into the top-level of the user’s OneDrive for Business account. It would be nice if Stream allowed you to defined a folder to store these recordings. The files are named after the date and time of the recording, so you end up with files like 20220913_203811 (recorded on 13 September, 2022 at 20:38:11). Files have a .wbem extension, indicating that the files are saved in the WebM format.
Once stored in OneDrive for Business, you can update the properties of recordings to generate a transcript and captions, add some text to describe what the video is about, and allow or disable comments (Figure 5), or share the recording with other people.
One thing I do is rename the file to give the recording a title that’s more appropriate to its content. Renaming has a consequence. The Stream client caches information about videos and will continue to display the old file name for a while after the rename happens. Any attempt to access the video at this point will fail because Stream tries to open the file with the old name. However, after a few minutes (or a browser refresh), the cache should catch up with actuality and display the new name.
Relationship with Clipchamp
Microsoft acquired Clipchamp in late 2021. Since then we’ve been waiting to see how Microsoft will make Clipchamp available to Microsoft 365 commercial customers (it’s already included in the Microsoft 365 family and personal plans). It seems reasonable to assume that Microsoft will include Clipchamp Essentials in Office 365 SKUs at some point in the future to allow users to edit the videos they record with Stream (the trim feature available in Stream classic is unavailable for the new Stream) or import from other sources, or indeed stitch segments captured in individual files together to create a longer video.
Stream Continuing to Evolve
Microsoft is making steady progress on the transition to Stream on SharePoint. The new web player is 100% deployed to Office 365 commercial tenants (not yet GCC) to play videos stored in Teams, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business. Being able to record videos is another important part of the puzzle and it’s nice to see that it’s available now.
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