Thursday, March 16, 2006

PowerPoint and Rich Media - Not Exactly Friends

Sometimes, it seems as though tools - like Powerpoint - that we have at our disposal for presentations just aren't built with our goals in mind.

Powerpoint holds all the promise of being the perfect tool for incorporating rich media (sound and video). The reality is close - oh so close - but not quite there. At least, as eClips' Manager of Media Production, the one responsible for testing how things work and posting the instructions on the web site, I feel the promise of Powerpoint falls short when it comes to incorporating rich media, especially on the PC.

The major problems people have are:
  • When they move the presentation, the videos and/or sound files aren't where they should be
  • What plays on one computer won't play on another

Despite these shortcomings, I realize that PowerPoint is the "drug of choice" on most campuses. To help you out, I've put together some basic instructions for using and transporting PC PowerPoint presentatioembeddedimbedded video.

Rule #1: Remember to use "Pack and Go" when saving your presentation. (It is called "Package for CD" in PPT 2003.)

Rule #2: Consider what computer will be used to present your slideshow. If you have a choice, use your own laptop where you created the presentation with video. In our experience, that is the solution with the least trouble. But remember, if you need to move the presentation, save it using "Pack and Go", which creates a packed up file that includes the video and will unpack onto another PC in the right order for Powerpoint to find and play the video.

To be sure that the presentation will play, include the "viewer" (happens by default in PPT 2003). Note: don't try to go across platforms. On the Mac, the mpg format plays the best; while on the PC, you'll need the .wmv format. For more on formats see our Tech Tips on the Teacher Tools Section.

Rule #3. Make sure your have enough room. Remember, the video files are very big compared to a regular PowerPoint file and it takes processing power to play video. So if you move the presentation to another computer using a small USB drive or CD, you may not be able to play the presentation from the drive itself. Move it to the other machine using the Pack and Go files.

Rule #4. Test ahead of time and make sure there are speakers in the room. It is important to have speakers available - or connect them to your laptop - relying on the laptop itself will not likelvolumee you enough vlume to make the clips effective when played in class.

Concluding notes...

Take heart. If you're new to eClips and haven't attempted to put video into a powerpoint, don't fear. Be diligent with your workflow and you can tackle the beast. After you work with it a few times, it will be much easier. See earlier our earlier blog for Newbies.

For more information on playing multimedia files through Powerpoint, you can check out this Microsoft link.

Good luck!

- Jamie Kalousdian

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