Epiphan's NDI Troubleshooting Guide for Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams NDI (Network Device Interface) is a powerful tool that allows users to send and receive high-quality video and audio streams over a network connection. This can be especially useful for remote and hybrid productions, as it allows users to connect to a wide range of devices and systems, including cameras, switchers, and audio mixers. However, NDI is not without its challenges. Despite these challenges, Microsoft Teams NDI has the potential to greatly enhance the collaboration and productivity of remote and hybrid teams, as it allows users to connect and share video and audio streams in real-time, regardless of their location.

Epiphan recently posted an article detailing a few problems users may run into while using Microsoft Teams with NDI, and most importantly, how to fix the issues. Here are the common issues and their solutions:

Has NDI Been Enabled in Teams?

Let's start at the very beginning. This is by far one of the most common issues users run into. You need to properly enable Microsoft Teams NDI first and foremost. If you can't find the purple "Broadcast Over NDI" button in Teams, then this is most likely your issue. 

To enable NDI in Microsoft Teams, you – or whoever serves as your organization’s Microsoft administrator – must first access the Microsoft Teams’ client.

Start by entering the Microsoft Teams admin center. Select “Meeting policies” under the “Meetings” tab on the lefthand menu.

In the “Meeting policies” menu, click “+ Add” and scroll down to the “Audio & video” section. Find the “Allow NDI streaming” button and toggle it on. Save the policy.

Once the policy has been saved by the Microsoft admin, you can now go into Teams, select the three dots next to your profile picture and choose Settings. In the Settings menu, select the Permissions tab and toggle on Network Device Interface (NDI).

Start a Microsoft Teams meeting, select More actions and click the purple “Broadcast over NDI” button.

If the option to broadcast over NDI still isn’t available, the issue may be your operating system. The NDI function is not currently supported on M1 Macs.

Are You Meeting Hardware Requirements?

If you notice frames dropping or your system keeps crashing, it’s possible that your hardware is not powerful enough to run Microsoft Teams NDI. NDI can be extremely taxing for certain systems’ CPU usage. Microsoft support even recommends “…limiting the number of NDI®-out video streams to two or three on any single computer” for maximum performance.

With the right hardware, the NDI broadcast should only be taking up about 50% of your CPU. However, some creators report that running NDI causes their CPU to spike up to 90% usage. When all that memory is being used up, overheating, freezing, and crashes are commonplace. To ensure your record or stream can be completed, keep an eye on how your computer is managing its resources.

To check this, start a Teams NDI broadcast. On a Windows PC, open “Task Manager.” In Task Manager’s “Processes” tab, check to see the CPU usage on Microsoft Teams. If it’s hovering above 50% – your hardware could use an upgrade.

There are a couple of ways you can approach the hardware upgrade. You could shop for a new computer. A PC with an Intel i5 Sandy Bridge CPU or better with integrated NVIDIA discrete GPU with 2 Gb video or more as well as 8 Gb of system memory ought to do the trick.

Another solution would be to rely on a hardware production system, like the Epiphan Pearl 2, to do all your heavy lifting. 

A hardware production system is more reliable than the average computer because it was built specifically to encode and decode all manner of video signals. Whereas the most powerful computer available was built for a variety of tasks, including everything from processing video to keeping dozens of browser tabs open.

Either way, if your CPU is approaching 90% usage when broadcasting NDI from Microsoft Teams, your current setup can’t handle the labor-intensive requirements. If upgrading your hardware is out of the question, you can always look into an SRT-based alternative.

Are You Meeting the Bandwidth Requirements?

If you are experiencing issues such as dropped frames, freezing, or crashes when using NDI, it may be because your local network does not have enough bandwidth to support the NDI streams you are using. In this case, you may need to upgrade your local network infrastructure, such as by using a Gigabit Ethernet connection or by adding additional switches or other networking equipment.

It is also important to note that NDI streams are typically low-latency, which means that they are designed to be transmitted with minimal delay. This means that it is important to use a stable network connection when working with NDI, as public internet or networks may not have the stability needed to handle low-latency video transmission.

Ideally, you should use a Gigabit Ethernet connection when working with any NDI stream. Public Internet or networks just don’t have the stability to handle transporting low-latency video. So, if it’s a bandwidth issue, you may need upgrade the existing infrastructure – look into wiring, switches, and anything else you’ll need to maximize the transfer speeds needed.

Pro Tip: If you are looking to send low-latency video over public Internet, consider Secure Reliable Transport (SRT). SRT is a streaming protocol developed specifically to make low-latency, high-quality over-the-network video transmission possible. Learn more about the differences between SRT vs NDI.

If you have the fastest network available, it could be that other people are clogging the network with their own activity. If that’s the case, it may be as simple as telling the other people on the network to cease their uploads and downloads until after the recording or stream concludes.

An Alternative to Microsoft Teams NDI: Epiphan Connect

Epiphan Connect is a service that allows users to extract video from Microsoft Teams meetings and streams without the need for additional hardware or software. Instead, the service uses the cloud to extract the video, which can then be recorded or streamed to other platforms. This can be a useful solution for users who do not have the necessary hardware or bandwidth to extract video from Microsoft Teams using NDI or other methods. Epiphan Connect is also accessible, as it does not require any technical knowledge or special equipment to set up and use.

Once Epiphan Connect has been added to your Microsoft Tenant by the administrator, you can add it to any Microsoft Teams meeting. Just login to Epiphan Cloud, select the Epiphan Connect button on the left-hand side and click on the green “Connect to a meeting” button. Enter the Microsoft Teams meeting URL, select your audio preferences, and then hit “Connect & Join.”

After Epiphan Connect joins the Teams meeting, each participant’s video and audio will be available as SRT streams. SRT was specifically designed to deliver media across unpredictable public networks. It’s becoming increasingly popular with broadcasters because it’s a cheaper and logistically simpler alternative to satellite trucks and private networks.

SRT, or Secure Reliable Transport, is a low-latency video streaming protocol that allows users to transmit high-quality video over the internet. It is supported by a wide range of production tools, making it a flexible and reliable option for streaming video from Microsoft Teams or other platforms. Epiphan Connect uses SRT to extract video from Microsoft Teams meetings and streams in the cloud, allowing users to take advantage of the protocol's high-quality video and low-latency performance without the need for additional hardware or network upgrades.

Overall, Epiphan Connect is a convenient and accessible alternative to Microsoft Teams NDI for extracting video from the app. It allows users to capture high-quality video and audio from Microsoft Teams meetings and streams without the need for technical knowledge or special equipment, making it a valuable tool for streaming and recording purposes.

Read the full article from Epiphan HERE

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