Stream Web App Improves Recording Capabilities

Making Stream Recordings Even Better

On May 2, Microsoft issued an update about plans to enhance video in Microsoft 365, mostly concentrated on Stream, including “video-first SharePoint pages.” Intriguing as this prospect is, my attention was taken by some new features to improve the recording capabilities of the Stream web app like a Stream teleprompter. I last covered Stream recording capabilities in September 2022 and was impressed at the ease of recording. Stream is not the tool for making the next great film classic, but it’s more than capable of making videos covering topics like product announcements and internal news, albeit limited to 15 minutes length.

The Stream Teleprompter

While we might all think that we will deliver perfectly formed words in a recording, there’s no doubt that very few can speak off-the-cuff in a way that makes sense. Enter the Stream teleprompter, a panel that scrolls through some previously entered text as you speak (Figure 1). Text can be inserted directly or (more likely) copied from another source. I find it best to prepare text in a Word document before pasting the text from Word into Stream.

Using the Stream teleprompter when recording a video
Figure 1: Using the Stream teleprompter when recording a video

The idea is that seeing the words in front of you makes it easier to speak confidently and not forget anything important. Whether it reduces the number of retakes depends on the speaker.

The teleprompter comes with a scroll speed control (beside the X in the menu bar). The default speed is a reasonable pace for talking, and you can slow down or increase the scroll speed to match your delivery. Naturally, the teleprompter doesn’t appear in the video that viewers see (Figure 2).

No trace of the Stream teleprompter in the video output
Figure 2: No trace of the Stream teleprompter in the video output

Video Background

As noted in my previous article, for a video background, Stream supports the use of the standard Teams background images, background blur, and a custom image. Unfortunately, you still can’t save a custom image for reuse. What’s new is that you can project your workstation screen (window or browser tab) as the video background, a feature that I’m sure will be popular with those who produce teaching videos.

Figure 3 shows the idea. I wrote a PowerShell script to extract and report Planner data for Microsoft 365 groups using the Planner Graph API. The video explains how to use PowerShell to work with plans, tasks, and buckets with the PowerShell console as the background. Another Stream recording feature places some text on-screen to point the viewer to a follow-up article. Regretfully, hyperlinks are unsupported, and formatting of the text is less flexible than it could be (setting font size is not available). But overall, Stream delivers easy-to-use recording functionality that’s improving over time.

Using a window as a Stream background
Figure 3: Using a window as a Stream background

Other Stream Updates

In the same blog post, Microsoft said that they plan to add automatic transcript generation for videos later this year. Today, Stream only processes automatic transcripts when Teams meeting organizers enable transcription for recordings. Stream generates transcripts for other videos if a video owner requests this through the transcript and options section of the Stream web app. Transcripts are now downloadable in Word (docx) format, which is a nice change because it’s a lot easier to edit Word to fix any hiccups in the transcript due to the AI not fully understanding what people say.

A change coming in June 2023 is that Stream will insert the profile picture of people in video transcripts to replace the initials of people who speak that now appear alongside their contributions. If the Azure AD accounts for tenant members and guests don’t have thumbnail photos, Stream will revert to initials. Time to check Azure AD to make sure that photos are available for user accounts and guest accounts.

Finally, Microsoft says the Stream web app now has a moveable captions box. This avoids the problem that occurs when captions appear over critical parts of the video. If this happens, click on the captions box and drag it to wherever you want the captions to appear (or repositioned, to use the formal term).

Maturing Stream

I really like the teleprompter feature in Stream web app. It’s a simple idea that makes lots of sense, just like making captions moveable. Both are evidence of the increasing maturity of the new Stream. Now if all of those pesky migrations from Stream classic could just finish…

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