By creating a custom Together Mode scene for Microsoft Teams, you can provide an immersive and engaging meeting environment.
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By using Together Mode in Teams, the regular video call can be turned into a shared virtual environment. This could bring people together and encourage the participants to turn on their videos. All participants will digitally be combined by AI into a single virtual scene and placed in pre-determined seats.
I have earlier covered how branding unifies the distributed workforce. This post will be an enrichment for that topic. Let’s dive into the details of creating a custom Together Mode scene for our company!
Build an AI Background Image
I got the idea of creating a custom Together Mode scene for our annual Christmas Teams party. The idea was to have all of our faces appearing on the monitors in Santa’s cloud-based computer operational center. I start by requesting a background image from the Midjourney AI Bot. This gave me some crazy fun pictures. After tuning my queries, I got a picture looking like what I had in mind.
The chosen picture was downloaded and prepared in a picture editor (Krita) distributed to my computer by use of the new Microsoft Store Experience.
The picture was cropped and resized before a logo was added and the picture was saved as a PNG file.
Building a Scene Using Scene Studio
I started in Scene studio: Developer Portal (microsoft.com) where I selected to create a new blank scene.
I gave the scene a name and added my AI generated background image.
Next I added all participant spaces that I needed in the scene.
The participants were placed in the scene and aligned horizontally and vertically. The numbering of the participants was also considered since the participants are added in the order they arrive at the meeting. Participant joining as number 3 will get spot number 3 and so on.
The main spot can be reserved for the meeting organizer and presenter.
Note that all the images and participant representations are organized in a Layers palette on the right side of the developer portal tool. This opens for advanced editing where I can add a background image, place all participants on top of the background and put a top layer PNG picture with transparent areas for the participants to blend in the scene.
When I was satisfied with my scene, I could save it and test it in Teams.
I can now Add my new scene in Teams and test it directly in an ad-hoc meeting.
When starting Together Mode in the meeting, I could change to the newly created scene.
This did put me right in Santa’s control room!
Please be aware that the Santa effect was limited if I selected to automatically zoom in to fit the stage for the participants.
Note the option for assigning seats when selecting the scene. This allows for participants to be accompanied to the correct seating.
The scene was now ready to be distributed for consumption in the environment!
Distribute the Custom Together Mode Scene
The Custom Together Mode scene can be uploaded as an app in Teams, either to individual scope, the organization, or published to the Microsoft Store. I will upload it to the organization this time.
Download the App Package
I start by downloading the app package from the Apps part of Developer Portal.
This gives me a ZIP file with an app manifest and a subfolder with files defining the scene details.
We don’t have to pay attention to the content, since we will upload the ZIP file directly.
Upload the App Package
In my Teams application, I navigate to Apps – Manage your apps – Upload and app – Submit an app to your org.
I selected the ZIP file and uploaded it.
This ended with the following message.
The app will now be available for Teams Admin to approve.
Approve the App Package
In Teams Admin Center, navigate to Manage Apps and search for the uploaded app and click on the app name. Please be aware of the option to also upload the app directly from this screen.
Click on Publish to publish this app.
The app is now published to the users.
The user which uploaded the app package (me) will now see the status of the pending request as Approved.
The details of the app displays the usage of it.
After a couple of hours, the app is available for the users to install.
The scene is now ready to use in the meeting.
Organizer or presenters with a Microsoft Teams Premium license can switch everyone to Together Mode view in the meeting by going to View Switcher – Together Mode – Select Together mode for everyone – Apply.
Relevant Microsoft documentation related to this operation:
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