Cameo for PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams
Taking storytelling to the next level by inserting your live camera feed directly into your PowerPoint story
"Favorite PowerPoint feature from the last year. I think it’s a great demonstration of how the PowerPoint team is continuing to push this 35-year-old piece of software to be more useful for everyone."
About Cameo for PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams
Put your live camera feed into your PowerPoint deck with Cameo. Use with Recording Studio to make more inviting recorded presentations. Apply all the same transitions and effects you can to an image or shape.
Cameo is a cross-platform feature that seamlessly integrates into any video conferencing application, available in Win32, Mac, iOS and Web. It supports virtual cameras (IP camera), webcams, and production quality or DSLR cameras. While presenting in a Microsoft Teams meeting, Cameo supports the ability to use your Microsoft Teams avatar instead of your camera feed.
With hybrid work, it became clear that finding ways to make presentations more engaging and interactive for a remote audience was needed, and part of that was enabling live video feeds into presentations. Using hackathons, the Office and PowerPoint team were able to move the idea forward. “When the pandemic hit, we knew we had to start redefining remote presentations. We were able to build on the progress made in hackathons to create Cameo,” said Shawn Villaron, VP of PowerPoint. Adding to the suite of existing powerful features like PowerPoint Recording Studio and PowerPoint Designer, Cameo was released in 2022 to bring presenters and their stories closer together.
Cameo originally began as a project from the 2019 Microsoft Global Hackathon. The Hackathon is a unique event for all Microsoft employees to turn their own ideas into proof-of-concepts. Projects range from hobby or passion projects to things related to existing services or products, the latter being the case for Cameron Kikoen, Lishan Yu, and Alexandre Gueniot who are part of the PowerPoint engineering team. It all started when Alex, Cameron, and Lishan were having lunch in the cafeteria before the 2019 Hackathon week, chatting about signature scenes and catchphrases in movies. As the experts in PowerPoint slide show rendering, they got excited about a hack idea: place a live camera feed into adventurous scenes created by PowerPoint slides, to enable the presenter to perform live acting right in slide show. Cameron said “it’s like we are making a cameo in our own presentation — wait…” and that’s when the project was officially born! The team then implemented the hack, and created several examples of how Cameo can shine in business and education scenarios.
The original Hackathon project members continued the project in the 2020 Hackathon, recruiting more members to the project and adding capabilities to the cameo prototype. This time, they focused on stitching a live presenter’s video feed into a PowerPoint presentation in a Microsoft Teams meeting. This integration with Microsoft Teams meant presenters could now make their camera more prominent or blend better in their slide content. They also explored support for multiple presenters’ cameras in the same presentation and tensor flow background removal.
Cameo in PowerPoint Live for Microsoft Teams.
Next was the Experiences & Devices division-wide hackathon in 2021, where they hacked on how to bring Cameo to the PowerPoint Desktop application. They prototyped the ability to insert a live camera feed object in a presentation, and just like any insertable shape, the Cameo camera object could be moved, cropped, and morphed anywhere on the slide. They built a variety of options to blur, remove, change background or apply animation and video effects to the video feed. A whole range of avatar animations was also cleverly showcased to capture audience attention.
The Hackathon projects were compelling enough to launch Cameo from hack project to an official feature that prompted an entire product team to finish building it, bringing it to every Office user in 2022 at production quality.
“This was an exciting project to bring to our customers, that involved solving complex technical challenges across various platforms and environments. It was awesome to see the entire project team adopt and utilize the feature in our own meetings throughout the entire development phase, which really drove home to everyone the impact of this PowerPoint feature!” – Dave McDonald, Principal Software Engineering Manager.
The journey of converting a prototype in 2019 to shipping a polished, multi-platform experience in 2022 in the top presentation software in the industry involved many people. The PowerPoint team came with the need to look at the solution holistically from multiple aspects. Rolly Seth, Senior Product Manager, took the lead in productization of this product capability. The vision was to help PowerPoint users create immersive yet highly accessible stories by integrating their live camera feed in the slides. Anything a picture can do in PowerPoint, camera should be able to do the same with the same ease of access, configurability, and super low learning curve. Additional engineers led by Dave McDonald were hired to take up this challenge, along with Stephanie Horn further helping from product management and Mike Gilmore from the design side.
Bringing Cameo to PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams was a joint effort between the Office Video team, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Teams, with several groups helping to prototype, implement, and productize the feature in Microsoft Teams: The Video Extensibility Team in China, the Edge, Slimcore and Electron Teams in Redmond, each played key roles in finding solutions to many technically challenging problems along the journey. “The engineers and PMs from these teams set a great example for cross geo collaboration to execute this distributed project in an efficient manner,” said Rajat Chamria, Principal Software Engineer.
This product was novel and a differentiator in various aspects. In addition to cross platform support, namely desktop and Mac, Cameo needed to seamlessly work across both PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams natively. Alongside live meeting support, async video recording support was also needed. Overall, the product needed to be hybrid-first focused. As the PM driver for PowerPoint Cameo, Rolly worked with global, multi-disciplinary teams to make the vision a reality.
Example of Cameo layout variations in a PowerPoint presentation.
Currently millions of PowerPoint users have integrated PowerPoint Cameo in their presentations and is being used with a diverse set of users such as individuals with accessibility needs – Using Cameo with Recording Studio for Microsoft Teams.
Versatile, powerful, and easy to use, PowerPoint Cameo infuses energy and interactivity to slides for a variety of audiences and scenarios, from creating comics, to visual storytelling, school reports and assignments, and presentations in the hybrid workspace, for consumers, students, educators, and professionals everywhere.
2019 hack team: Alexandre Gueniot, Cameron Kikoen, Lishan Yu
2020 hack team: Alexandre Gueniot, Bharath Ramanathan, Cameron Kikoen, Lishan Yu, Mike Gilmore, Rajat Chamria
2021 hack team: Alexandre Gueniot, Chung Chen, James Hong, Joshua Doctors, Mike Gilmore, Rolly Seth, Song Yue Yu
PowerPoint Cameo product team (who helped ship the capability to millions of customers in PowerPoint and Teams – in alphabetical order): Aarnav Ram, Aditya Raj, Anand Arumugam, Aparna Jethani, Ayushi Singhal, Bo Lu, Dane Gottwald, Darshan Bavaria, Dave McDonald, Ermin Kozica, Gajendra Jatav, Gaurav Chaula, Harold Gomez, Ishan Sharma, Jagrat Patidar, Jayakumar Jayaraj, Jess Kwok, Jian Wang(Halsey), Jonathan Holley, Lena Yeoh, Lihang Cao, Mario Novoselec, Matt Kernek, Meg Mitchell, Mike Gilmore, Milan Burda, Nakul Madaan, Omar Amin, Oscar Antezana Chavez, Piyush Tyagi, Qiongfang Zhang, Rajat Chamria, Ravikiran Ramachandra, Ridhima Gupta, Rolly Seth, Ryan Meyers, Sameeksha Jain, Sarah Zaki, Shain Heuer, Shivani Gupta, Shweta Gupta, Siliang Kang, Song Yue Yu, Stephanie Horn, Sunggook Chue (Edge Team), Sushmita Singh, Swayamsiddha Priyadarshi, Tarun Kumar Vashistha, Tarun Malik, Taylor Macmillan, Tiphanie Lau, Tiffany Smith, Vinay Pareek, Xiaoyi Wang, Xin Pan, Yinran Li, Yiru Yang, Yubo Tian
Apart from core team, several other members have also helped throughout this journey –
Special Thanks to: Shawn Villaron, Alexandre Gueniot, Lishan Yu, Amit Gulati, Ramesh R, Dan Swett, Bobby Kishore, Marcus Ash, Cameron Kikoen, Aristide Apodaca Aragon, Jacob Adams, Joshua Doctors, Michael Dalton, Srishti Sridhar, Sarang Kapadia, Chakradeep (Chaks) Chinnakonda Chandran, Amit Gulati, Chad Ross, Kim Denny, Aleta Bashaw, Emily Tohir, Mike McCoy, David Pond, Brittany Mederos, Derek Johnson, Kirk Gregerson, Priyanka Sinha, Andrea Eoanau, Barbara Kim, Amya Rai, Neeraj Sharma, Jon Johnstone, Peter Wu, Michael Levesque, Minliang Zhou, Xukai Wu, Yiping Chai, Anuj Pratap Singh Yadav, Deepak Kumar Garg, Jatin Bansal, Kunal Agrawal, Pranjal Saxena, Nitin Chaudhary, Umang Ahlawat, Varun Seth, Alice Lu, Stephanie Blucker, Armelle O’Neal, Doug Thomas, Roger Haight, David Hirning, James Hong, Damian Marcinek, Saumya Chandra, Jing Jin, Cindy Alvarez, TJ Nicholson, Prateek Diyanshu, various OXO & Microsoft Teams drivers (Privacy, Security, Accessibility, Compliance), Interns (Jessica Treviño Caballero, Eva Cristina Beltran Reyes, Evelyn Tran), and PowerPoint & Microsoft Teams MVPs.
This has been truly a One Microsoft effort.