Giving PowerPoint Pizzazz with Macromedia Flash
See Also: PowerPoint And Flash
Author: Patrice-Anne Rutledge
Date Created: January 29th 2004
Last Updated: June 14th 2012
Patrice-Anne Rutledge is the best-selling author of more than 20 non-fiction books, primarily on communications and web design. She has also contributed to numerous international publications, founded several newsletters and websites, and has created marketing communications materials, technical documentation, and web content for leading international organizations. Patrice's most recent book is Special Edition Using Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 (Que). She can be reached through her Web site: PatriceRutledge.com
Also by Patrice-Anne Rutledge: Microsoft Producer
If you've ever admired the use of Macromedia Flash in creating interactive and animated Web sites, you've probably also considered how great it would be to incorporate Flash's sophisticated functionality into your PowerPoint presentations as well. With a little know-how, this is actually an easy thing to do. In PowerPoint, you can play Flash movies through the use of an ActiveX control (swflash.ocx). If you use Internet Explorer 4 or later, you should already have this control.
There are many reasons you might want to use Flash movies in your PowerPoint presentation, most notably to take advantage of Flash's interactive vector animations and small file size. In some cases, you may already have Flash movies on your Web site or intranet that you want to incorporate into PowerPoint. Or you may want to create a Flash movie specifically to include in a presentation, enabling you to add some extra pizzazz to PowerPoint's existing functionality.
To use Flash in a PowerPoint presentation, you'll need the following software:
- Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, 2002, 2000, or 97 for Windows.
Earlier versions of PowerPoint don't offer ActiveX support (nor
does the Macintosh). The examples in this article use PowerPoint
2002 and Flash MX, but the steps for incorporating Flash movies
into other versions of PowerPoint are very similar.
- Macromedia Flash Player. In most cases, the computer on
which you plan to deliver your PowerPoint presentation probably
already has Flash Player installed (not the same thing as Flash
itself, which you use to create Flash movies). The player is preinstalled
with Windows 98 and later as well as Internet Explorer 4 and later.
According to Macromedia, 98.3% of all web users have Flash Player
on their computers. If you have any doubts as to whether you have
the latest version of the player, though, it's best to Download
it. Use Internet Explorer (not Netscape Navigator) to navigate
where you can Download a free copy of the latest Flash Player.
- Macromedia Flash (any version). You obviously need Flash
to create the Flash movie you plan to include in your PowerPoint
presentation, but you don't need to have Flash software installed
on the machine with which you create or deliver your presentation.
You just need the Flash movie file. So even without Flash, you
can still experiment with the possibilities of incorporating Flash
movies in PowerPoint. Many other programs deliver Flash movies
for training, demo, or marketing purposes, so you may already have
Flash movies on your system. To find them, do a search in Windows
Explorer for any files with the extension *.SWF. This extension
stands for Shockwave Flash and is the standard for all Flash movies.
If you don't have Flash software on your computer and want to try it out, Download a trial version of the newly released Flash MX from the Macromedia Web site at http://www.macromedia.com/Downloads/. The site also includes tutorials and documentation to help you get started.
Inserting a Flash movie into PowerPoint is basically a straightforward process. Let's say that you want to start your PowerPoint presentation with a Flash movie. To do so, create a blank slide as the first slide of your presentation. Open the Control Toolbox (where ActiveX controls are stored) by selecting Tools, Control Toolbox. Click the More Controls button in the lower right corner of the Toolbox and choose Shockwave Flash Object from the drop-down list as your control type (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 - Select the Shockwave Flash Object control to insert a Flash movie.
Position the crosshair pointer at the upper left corner of the slide and drag down to the lower right corner, making the control cover the entire slide. A large X temporarily appears on your slide; this disappears after you've assigned properties to this control or, in some cases, after you're previewed the presentation the first time. Of course, if you don't want your Flash movie to cover your entire slide, just drag the crosshair pointer to the appropriate location. You can also resize later if you want.
To assign properties, click the Properties button on the Control Toolbox (or right-click the control and choose Properties from the menu that appears). In the Properties dialog box, shown in Figure 2, ensure that ShockwaveFlash1 is selected as the object rather than the slide itself.
Figure 2 - Specify how and when to run your movie in the Properties dialog box.
Set the following properties:
- Movie. Enter the complete directory path name or URL of
the Flash movie you want to play, such as:
You can enter a location on your own computer or a location on the Web or intranet. Be sure that you enter the *.SWF file and not another format such as *.FLA (a Flash document, not a movie).
- EmbedMovie. Set to True to embed the movie in your presentation,
avoiding any concerns about running your presentation on another
machine and losing the Flash movie.
- Playing. Set to True to start your movie as soon the slide
appears. If you want to control when the movie starts playing,
set to False.
- Loop. Set to True if you want your
movie to loop; set to False if you don't want it to loop.
- Menu. Set to True if you want display a menu of options
when you right-click on the Flash movie during presentation. Menu
options include the ability to play, rewind, loop, and print your
movie as well as to specify settings, quality, and more. Although
this is easy and convenient, there are also more elegant ways to
control your movie.
- Quality. Set to High for the best quality. Other options include Medium and Low.
If you prefer to enter your property information in a more traditional dialog box format, select the Custom row, click the ellipsis, and enter your information in an abbreviated Properties dialog box. The settings are the same regardless of which way you enter them.
After you exit the Properties dialog box, the Flash movie should appear in your PowerPoint presentation. If the large X continues to appear, a still version of the movie should replace this after you preview your presentation.
To preview the Flash movie in your PowerPoint presentation, press F5. The presentation should automatically start with the movie, as illustrated in Figure 3. You can then move on to the next slide to continue your presentation just as you normally would.
Figure 3 - Start your presentation with flair and Flash.
If for some reason the Flash movie doesn't appear, return to Normal view and check your properties again. Verify that the path you entered under Movie is accurate and includes the complete path name of your *.SWF file. Complex navigation paths can sometimes be problematic. If you think this might be your problem, right-click the file in Windows Explorer, choose Properties, and copy the text in the Location field. Then return to PowerPoint, paste the text in the Movie field in the Properties dialog box, and add the *.SWF file name. Also check that Playing is set to True. This setting can sometimes revert to False after previewing, so it's a good idea to verify your properties before you run any presentation with Flash movies. If your movie still won't play, try reinstalling the Flash Player.
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