We look in more detail at how to configure your PowerPoint presentation so that everything plays when you want it to and exactly how you want it to.
By Helen Bradley
Last time we looked at the basics of putting together a presentation in Producer for PowerPoint. This week it’s time to look in more detail at how to configure your presentation so that everything plays when you want it to and exactly how you want it to.
The Media tab of the Producer for PowerPoint window divides the screen into roughly three areas. A small preview area appears on the right and you can preview elements like movies and slides here. At the top left is are the elements you can include in your presentation including audio, html content, images, slides and video as well as presentation templates, video transitions and effects. This is a holding area – none of these items are actually used in the presentation unless they appear also in the timeline across the foot of the screen.
The timeline is where you compile your presentation and make changes to it. When you remove a slide from the timeline you aren’t removing it from your project file or your original PowerPoint presentation; instead you’re simply removing it from playing during the presentation. You can drag and drop the same item onto the timeline at different places which lets you reuse an element over and over again if desired.
Templates control the on the screen arrangement of items and you can choose a template that places a larger version of the slides or a smaller version on the screen. Some templates have movie content areas and some don’t. Decide for yourself how you want the elements laid out on the screen and then find a template that achieves this result (or near enough to it).
You can change templates in the middle of a presentation if you drag a new template to the template track of the timeline at the place the change should be made.
As with Windows Movie Maker you can split movie clips in half and discard pieces from the beginning or end of a clip to edit it. Move to the frame to make the edit and use the Clip menu options to Set a Start Trim Point for removing everything up to this point in the movie or use the Set End Trim Point option to remove everything from the current point forward. Use the Clip, Split option to split the clip in two.
Effects and Transitions
Like Windows Movie Maker, you can add Effects and Transitions to your movie clips. An Effect applies to the movie content itself such as increasing or decreasing the brightness or applying a filter. You can apply multiple effects provided they don’t conflict with each other. To apply an Effect, drag and drop it onto the clip on the video timeline.
Video transitions apply to the period of change from one video clip to the next or from one still image to another. You can only apply one transition and you do this by dragging and dropping the transition onto the clip in the timeline. The transition will apply as one clip ends and the next begins.
You can add still images to the slide track of the timeline if you desire or you can place them on the video track – depending on the track they are placed on they will play in a different place on the screen. Effects cannot be applied to slides and neither can they be applied to images on the slide timeline. However, images and video clips on the video timeline can have Effects and Transitions applied to them.
SYNCHRONIZING YOUR SHOW
When you are using video or audio in your presentation you can synchronize it to your slides so that the slides change at the right time. To do this, click the Synchronize button on the toolbar and select Set Slide Timing and then watch the video as the slides display. When you want to move to the next slide, click the Next Slide button and Producer will record the timing for replay later on.
When a slide contains animation effects, you’ll see a Next Effect button rather than a Next Slide one – use this to record the timing for the effects and then, when the Next Slide button reappears, you know the effects are complete and you’re ready to move to the next slide.
PLAYING A PRESENTATION
Producer for PowerPoint presentations are different to those created by Windows Movie Maker – they aren’t saved as a single file and, instead, they’re saved as a series of files which require a web browser to view them. To publish your presentation, save your project first so that you can edit it again if necessary, then choose File, Publish Presentation and choose My Computer as the playback site. Click Next, give your file a name and a location and continue through the wizard adding introductory page information and configuring the quality and size of the presentation. Wait as Producer compiles the files for the presentation and, when the confirmatory dialog appears, click the browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape) to preview your presentation.
To learn more about Producer for PowerPoint, visit the Microsoft Download Center and type in Producer 2003 Tutorial to find viewable videos that step you through more of the program’s features.
The download link we gave in the last issue works for both Powerpoint 2003 and 2002 (XP).
The web page is a little misleading – at the top it talks about “Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003” but as some eagle-eyed readers have noticed the system requirements say it is compatible with both Powerpoints.
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