Help me have a better experience with Teams | NDI (#1 Reliability, #2 Watermark)

I’d like to talk about this new feature … aka Network Device Interface for video recordings.

At SSW we have 3 guys who run SSW TV (a youtube channel for .NET and Azure devs) so we are all excited about the new NDI feature – this was released in Microsoft Teams a week ago (September 2020).

We also run 6 .NET + Azure User Groups around Australia and China and it has been really hard during COVID-19 to run these live. We have been pre-recording the sessions and then pretending they are live and it has worked. That said, it is not at all the same as a live event.

Therefore I am certain NDI It is going to help us so much. I want to share our first experience from our first live event using NDI. We were able to run a free event with 5 speakers and it went well from my side. Afterwards this was sent to me from one of the SSW TV engineers who ran the event using the new NDI feature of Teams.

From: Raj

Hi Adam

The experience was mixed. When it works the feature allows me to really pull off a broadcast level show (without very expensive specialist hardware).

You can see below the multi view and picture in picture (of 5 speakers) that I was able to create. Each person on the call is an individual input much like a normal camera, so I’m able to do the same things as if I had a real in-studio multi-camera setup (like you would see on the news or big broadcast shows).

Figure: This live mix is amazing and was easy to make. I got this all working in 20 minutes (and most of that was in photoshop)

So in theory this should be excellent, but there are some issues that are essentially deal-breakers.

Firstly, the general reliability. In the image below you can see one of the sources has changed from the person’s camera to a Teams logo. This must be a Teams bug.

For some reason the input randomly does this with some people and not others. It happened during our stream with the screenshare input (a big deal this is the most important thing I want to output).

In other tests, this hasn’t happened at all, so it seems to be random. It can’t be blamed on networking issues because technically the NDI output is still active, because if it wasn’t, you’d be seeing a black screen.

Figure: Bug – live stream mixer

Secondly, I love that I can bring in the screen share as its own source, as I can do lots of funky looking things like the picture in picture. However, my second issue is to do with the screen sharing output. That massive Microsoft logo watermark in the top right is extremely intrusive and ruins the shot. For some reason, it only appears over the screen share output, which makes no sense to me since the majority of screen shares will be Windows-based machines where their branding is clearly visible. This is completely unnecessary and ruins what is otherwise a super useful feature of Teams.

I’ve googled and I’m not alone in thinking this: https://i.reddit.com/r/VIDEOENGINEERING/comments/ikmr85/ms_teams_ndi_watermark/

         > Teams released an update with NDI integration. I’m finding that in a scheduled teams meeting, there’s a god awful watermark in upper right corner over NDI

This will need to be fixed in order for us to use this. It’s not just distracting, it’s actually ruining the user experience because it covers the content (e.g. Visual Studio coding and PowerPoints etc.).
SSW is an enterprise customer and this just seems entirely unnecessary. Even if it’s an extra charge, the option should be there to remove it.

Figure: Top right – terrible watermark size and placement. It is the opposite of subtle

I hope this helps and I hope it gets better.

Raj Dhatt
SSW TV Engineer

Help me use NDI easier

NDI (Network Device Interface) is great… For those that don’t know it is an open standard invented by NDI.tv | Your Official Destination for All Things NDI®  Microsoft Teams has now started to bring this to the masses!

Well done for beating Zoom ⭐ 

I seriously hope Microsoft keep the quality higher than the Zoom team can.

My  questions and suggestions:

  1. For a company, it is not on by default until the System Administrator enables that… I’d love to know if it was purely for privacy reasons. I would prefer it on by default to increase adoption.
  2. For a user, it is not on by default in the app, and when you turn it on…. It turns off when you leave Teams!
    So next time I open Teams I have to turn on NDI again. That seems like a bug to me.
  3. I assume NDI uses up some background processing when in use – I think I see the CPU work harder when connected to an NDI device of my TV guys.
    I love to see a quality option E.g. NDI quality: High | Normal | Low
  4. Make the UX easy. Relocate the NDI setting so it is simple to access. Currently, you need to go to
          Profile | Settings | Permissions | NDI
    It should be as easy as sharing your screen and sound. When you share your screen there is a checkbox to share audio being “Include Computer Sound”. Copy that UX.
    E.g. so when you turn on your camera, add a checkbox to “Share with NDI”
    or put it in the “…” menu (see image below)
Figure: When in a call add   “…” | Enable NDI

Love to know if you agree…

Add a Team calendar tab

We want a ‘Team Calendar’ tab to put on each Team ….. we want team members to make calendar invitations from the Team, not from their personal calendar… as it is part of the information of the team.

This should be built-in, and whilst it can be solved with SharePoint – it is tedious. I’ve written up my solution here: Do you make your team meetings easy to find?

Matt Wicks

UserVoice: Add a team calendar to Teams or allow a project team calendar to be added as a tab.

Help me find the highlight and font color

Dear Microsoft Teams Team,

Microsoft Teams suggestion – Help me find the highlight and font color

I expect no-one uses these 2 buttons regularly like they do in Outlook and Word. Therefore I think if you look at the current status of usage, these icons would not be used that much. If you were to change them to look just like Microsoft Word I’d bet the usage figures would go up.

Please consider using the same colour on the highlight and font colour icons

Figure: Good example – In Word, I am very used to seeing the yellow and the red
Figure: Bad example – In Teams, I think these 2 icons are unrecognizable !! The A looks like an underline

Help me know what resources a client has access to

Inside SSW, we have added a lot of clients into the Teams team. On the downside, you start seeing a lot of names you don’t know.

Suggestion: 
John is a client and a person I don’t really know. It took me a long time to know what he has access to here at SSW.

On this popup window it would be nice if you show something like this:

John has access to:

  • 1 team
  • 1 DevOps project
  • 2 invoices (via an extensibility point)
Figure: Suggestion – Add a 5th icon here “Activity”  (this would enable the user to learn more about what John has access to)
Figure: On this 3rd tab Activity, please add what John has access to

Advise when the contacted person is busy

When I message someone and don’t pay attention to their status (Busy, In a call, Presenting, etc.) I want the Teams Bot/App to reply with something like:

Adam Cogan is currently in a call and may not be notified of your message. If it is urgent, please click here to send the notification now.

This will be a useful feature so that we are made aware of the recipient’s status before we start pinging them continuously.

Slack has this already implemented with its DND (Do Not Disturb) feature. Link to example: Knock, knock: Introducing Do Not Disturb

Figure: Example image from Slack blog showing their DND feature

Navigation – Help me know where I am

I click a link (sadly an unreadable link):

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/file/946926A6-F818-4208-9CFE-0D74BBC96619?tenantId=ac2f7c34-b935-48e9-abdc-11e5d4fcb2b0&fileType=xlsx&objectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fsswcom.sharepoint.com%2Fsites%2FBrisbaneRetreat2020%2FShared%20Documents%2FGeneral%2FBrisbane-%20Retreat-2020-Attendance.xlsx&baseUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fsswcom.sharepoint.com%2Fsites%2FBrisbaneRetreat2020&serviceName=teams&threadId=19:27c127ee866b495e9a42775b66be92b9@thread.skype&groupId=fb84bba4-1504-4c82-96e5-ab938868ad2b

And I go here.

Suggestions:

  1. Where am I? Can you please add a breadcrumb that takes me to the team that this file belongs to (see red arrow)
  2. The ‘Close’ button should be renamed to ‘Cancel’ because it takes you back to where you were eg. the last chat
Figure: The navigation is missing