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Automated Stream Transcripts Restart in August 2023
The original version of Stream boasted the very useful ability to generate a transcript automatically as users uploaded videos. Microsoft stopped this process in September 2021 and began to remove transcripts for older videos. These steps were likely taken to simplify the migration to Stream on SharePoint, a process that’s been underway for about ten months at this point.
When Microsoft launched the new Stream client (video player) in mid-2022, it didn’t include automatic transcript generation. Since then, Microsoft added a bunch of useful features like a teleprompter facility, and now they’re bringing back automatic transcripts (message center notification MC635989, 11 July, 2023).
The support article for Stream transcripts lists support for 28 languages, and automatic transcript generation supports the same languages when it rolls out to standard release tenants starting in late July with worldwide deployment expected to finish by the end of August. Microsoft doesn’t give any dates for targeted release tenants to receive the update, so I assume that this is an enhancement that all tenants receive in one deployment cycle.
Microsoft 365 roadmap item 124932 covers the feature and notes that it is unavailable for test tenants and tenants with A1 licenses. Presumably this means that Stream won’t generate transcripts for videos uploaded by users with (Office 365) A1 licenses but will do so for videos uploaded by users in the same tenant with higher licenses, like Office 365 A3 or A5. I presume that users with A1 licenses can generate a transcript manually if they wish.
Stream Transcripts Generated for SharePoint Online, Viva Engage, and OneDrive for Business
Microsoft’s announcement says “Automatic Transcription for Video Uploads to SharePoint Online, Yammer, and Office.com.” Whoever wrote the message center post obviously didn’t read the memo about the rebranding of Yammer as Viva Engage in February 2023 and perhaps didn’t notice the recent update to apply the Viva Engage name and logo to the Yammer web client.
In any case, the plan is that Stream will automatically generate transcripts for videos uploaded to SharePoint Online, Viva Engage, and Office.com (which means your personal OneDrive for Business Account). Depending on meeting options, Teams meeting recordings might already have a transcript when uploaded to SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business.
Transcripts take time to generate so are not available immediately after uploading a video. The time required to generate a transcript depends on the length of the video, but it could take between 15 and 30 minutes before a transcript appears. If you get impatient or the transcript doesn’t show up, use the generate transcript command in video settings to force Stream to generate the file. Stream tells you how long remains as it processes the video to create the transcript.
The big advantages of having a transcript available for all videos is that users can:
- Search the transcript to find a specific point in a video. This is especially relevant for recordings of meetings or product briefings. Figure 1 shows a good example of using captions and the transcript to follow what happened during a briefing.
- Display captions for a video. A transcript is composed of time-encoded captions in WebVTT format, so once a transcript is available, captions are too.
In addition, transcripts make it easier for eDiscovery to locate videos because content searches can find words in a transcript.
Once the automatic transcript is available, the video owner can edit it to improve the accuracy of the text if necessary. Although transcription is usually pretty good, it’s unreasonable to expect it to be 100% given that people will mumble, use slang or words specific to their environment (like code names), or simply not enunciate well. A counterpoint is that statistics demonstrate that very few video recordings of events are ever rewatched and probably fewer people consult transcripts, so editing and updating transcript text is probably something that’s not a high-value activity in many cases.
Controlling Generation of Stream Transcripts
Stream enables automatic transcription by default. If you want to disable the feature, you must:
- Use PowerShell to connect to SharePoint Online administration.
Run the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet to update the MediaTranscriptionAutomaticFeatures setting to disabled:
Set-SPOTenant -MediaTranscriptionAutomaticFeatures Disabled
Like any tenant-wide setting, it can take a few hours before the new setting is effective everywhere.
Stream Transcripts Everywhere
It’s good that Stream is bringing automatic transcription back for new videos. The message center post doesn’t say anything about existing videos. If you want transcripts for those videos, you’ll have to create them yourself.
So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what happens, why it happens, and what new features and capabilities mean for your tenant.