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It is a challenge finding the best linear presentation tool when graphics, audio files, and video files are to be incorporated, especially in trying to create a cross-platform presentation (PC-Mac). As about 30% of the campus is on Macs, and 70% on PCs (Windows) this is usually desirable.

Following are some possible solutions to different situations:

1. Images only

For this, PowerPoint is commonly used, if the display will be from a laptop. PowerPoint files can also be uploaded to web servers for distribution. Other simple image-only presentation programs are iPhoto, Keynote, Presentations (part of WordPerfect Office).

2. Images and audio, non-synchronized

PowerPoint (PP) can be used if synchronization of audio is NOT important to the timing of the slides. It is very hard to synchronize a specific image to a specified time in the audio. Slides can be timed to advance automatically after a defined number of seconds, this time can be different for each slide. The time is relative to the slide before, and not absolute to the audio start time. For example, if you want the 12th slide to show up 87 seconds into the audio, you have to compute the time difference between each of the preceeding 11 slides, and if there is any "slippage", the timing will be off.

Audio files to be included can be .wav, .aif, and mp3, if the presentation is to be cross-platform. The audio file is generally NOT embedded in the presentation. Thus, for distribution, one must include both the PP file and the audio file in the same folder. The playback preferences for audio files in PP are buried, scattered, and not easy to find.

A PP presentation can be played in the foreground, while an audio CD or audio from iTunes plays in the background. However, the audio file cannot be easily distributed with the PP file.

Other images and non-synchronized audio presentation software is iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Keynote, Presentations (part of WordPerfect Office).

3. Synchronized images and audio

PowerPoint is a poor tool if the slides in a presentation have to be exactly timed to one or more audio tracks, for the above reasons. You can time specific slides to specific audio clips, just not accurately to a long audio file. It is also possible to let the audio continue into succeeding slides, after it has played on one slide. The audio preferences for each audio file control how many slides to play the audio for.

iMovie on the Mac is a better solution. First, drag your images into iPhoto. In iMovie, go to the Media Browser, and drag your images into the iMovie timeline, set to "Clip View". Turn off the Ken Burns effect, or each image will have an animated zoom. Each image will have a default duration of 5 seconds. You can also drag images from the desktop directly into iMovie, without going through iPhoto, but they will be slightly cropped or rescaled.

Audio tracks can be dragged into the timeline from the desktop. You can also import audio tracks in iTunes into iMovie, through iMovie's Media Browser. If you use a file purchased from the iTunes Store, it will only play on a computer authorized to do so.

After adding your audio and images to iTunes, you can drag the length of each image to the duration you want, in the timeline. Audio tracks can be cropped, edited and moved.

iMovie output can be a DVD, a small QuickTime movie, or a large QuickTime movie. The movies can be added to a podcast, put on a web page, or distributed individually. They can also be uploaded to a file sharing service like YouTube.

iMovie, iPhoto, and iTunes are on all the Macs in the ATL and Neff Lab.

Windows Movie Maker can be used if you are on Windows. However, it can be unstable if a variety of different audio formats are used. The output will be a Windows Media video, which will usually not play on a Mac. We can convert WMV to QuickTime movies for you. If you are working in the PC Electronic Classroom, you can also export from Windows Movie Maker as a DV-AVI. This can be opened in QuickTime Player Pro, and converted to a QT movie. If the movie does not have to play on a Mac, you can export as a WMV.

GarageBand can create files suitable for podcasting, playing in iTunes, or playing in QuickTime Player. However, image graphics have to be cropped and reduced to 300 x 300 pixel size before exporting. It is more suitable for an audio podcast incorporating small images. GarageBand can create chapter markers for a podcast, this allows the listener to accurately navigate to specific points anywhere in the file. It is also the most full-featured tool mentioned so far if you need multiple audio tracks, sound libraries, audio composition and editing capabilities.

4. Video in PowerPoint

Unfortunately, there is no way to create a cross-platform PP presentation with inserted video clips, using modern video formats. The Windows verion of PP only uses WMV clips, and the Mac version only uses QuickTime movies.

On a PC, you can create a hyperlink to a QuickTime movie or mp4 file. Select a word, and use the Insert>Hyperlink>Document command to link to the movie. You may get a security warning. To eliminate this in Office 07 for Windows, go to PowerPoint Options, Trust Center, Trust Center Settings, ActiveX settings, select "Prompt me before enabling all controls with minimal restrictions", deselect "Safe Mode".

In PowerPoint 2002 for Windows, go to Tools>Options>Security.

If the presentation is to only play on Windows, or on a Mac, then the compatible video format can be used as an inserted file. In either case, ensure the movie file and PP file are in the same folder.

5. Higher-end Tools

If the above tools do not address the situation, there is higher-end software available, such as Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Premiere Elements, Premiere Pro, Director and Flash. These packages require more advanced skills.

There is no one best solution for every presentation situation, please contact a member of the Instructional Technology Team, or Frank Fulchiero, fful@conncoll.edu, 439-5006, if you have any questions or need assistance in selecting one, BEFORE you start your project. The above guidelines are NOT complete directions, please contact a member of the Instructional Technology Team for additional assistance.