If you are looking for a solution for streaming a video into your Lync online meeting and include the audio there is only one soultion I would recommend.
For the sake of choice I have outlined a few options here and my pick…
Use a virtual device (Editor’s Pick)
This option relies on using virtual devices to trick Lync into displaying the movie through the webcam. The new virtual devices act as a video and audio source that can be selected as source devices in the Lync client. I did get a chance to play around with the Manycam software and it does work as expected. I was able to stream a movie straight from my pc to my attendees with VGA quality. I was also able to stream a section of my desktop to show a flash movie streaming from my browser to my audience.
You can read a nice write up of the Manycam over at Chris Norman’s blog.
To Add Audio
To include audio you will need to install a virtual audio cable (VAC). Once installed, change the Windows playback device to the new Virtual Audio Cable (Line 1).
Then change the Lync microphone settings to the Line 1 (Virtual Audio Cable).
The attendees will now be able to hear any sound that is playing through the pc. For an extra bonus, use the included Audio Repeater (MME) application to stream the pc microphone along with the movie. This will allow you to comment on the movie while it is playing.
NOTE: The VAC device is free to try but is $30 to license. Until you pay for it you will hear a voice speaking “trial” every few seconds.
It should be noted that this is an unsupported configuration.
Upload the file as an attachment
This option allows for a full experience while viewing a movie. However, this method doesn’t scale well. If the video is very large or you have a large audience as you could run into long download times resulting in a longer than expected meeting. Preparation is king here, start the meeting early and upload the movie early. Get your attendees to download the movie as soon as they join to minimize their wait time. Other issues you may encounter could result if the attendee is not able to view your video due to codec limitations? This may not be an issue if you are only presenting to your fellow employees, but what if you are presenting to attendees outside your company?
To upload an attachement:
- Start the Lync online meeting.
- In the Conversation window, click the Add or view attachments button (paperclip).
- In the Attachments dialog box, click Add Attachments.
- Select the file that you want to add, and then click Upload.
Add the movie to a URL
This option streams the movie to the attendee using a web based solution using the attendees own browser. This is done independently of the Lync online meeting. During your presentation the presenter instructs the attendees to open a browser window and navigate to a URL you provide to view the movie. Adding the URL to a shortcut and including this as a meeting attachment would limit mistyping of the URL. One could also use a short URL. The risks with this method are if an attendee is viewing the movie from a slow link or if the attendee cannot view the movie type. You also need to have the movie uploaded to a website that is available to all who are attending your meeting. Preperation is king.
Share the application (NOT RECOMMENDED)
I am listing this method only to educate you on what NOT to do. This unrecommended solution involves sharing the application that is playing the movie, whether it be a PowerPoint presentation, browser session or media player. The biggest limitations with the option is that the video frame rate does not share well over an application sharing session and audio is not included. The video will be choppy and is a very poor experience for your audience. To get audio to work you will need to have an external microphone that is capable of picking up the audio from your computer and streaming it back through the meeting, the same way as you would trasmit your voice. A headset won’t work as the microphone may not pick up the audio from the movie. I’ve heard of presenters using an audio cable to feed the sound from the speaker jack into the microphone jack for the duration of the movie.
Here are some other scenarios using the Microsoft native tool set:
- Uploaded Powerpoint with embedded video – The toolbar does not display so you cannot actually start the video
- App share of Powerpoint with embedded video – Audio works; video works but is choppy
- App share of Windows Media Player – Audio does not work; video works but is choppy
The bottom line, the Application Sharing MCU was never designed to handle a video stream.
Use a 3rd party solution
VBrick has an interesting solution that enables a presenter to share video using Lync. This is not a Lync online meeting construct but a separate solution and concept for streaming video using Lync. While I personally have not seen the product in action or know of anyone that uses the technology, the idea and solution look very promising. Head on over to their website for more information.