See Also: Conversation with Colin McBride
Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: July 14th 2006
Last Updated: February 25th 2009
Adding movie clips to PowerPoint presentations is easy since it's basically a one-click operation -- but if you need to add Flash SWF movies to your PowerPoint slides, you'll soon discover that this process is nowhere as easy -- nor is it a one-click process!
Fortunately, there are many add-ins available out there that simplify the inserting of Flash SWFs file into PowerPoint -- and none of them is as complete as In-Shop's Flash Toolbar.
Flash Toolbar is from In-Shop, a company based in the UK -- you can download a free trial version of Flash Toolbar from their site...
Flash Toolbar allows you to do more than insert a Flash SWF movie -- you can also change the settings in terms of size, positioning etc. Plus -- you can insert multiple Flash movies and arrange them on the slide and control them individually.
My contact at Flash Toolbar for this review was Colin McBride - thank you, Colin.
Installation requires that you manually insert the add-in's PPA module into your add-ins list using the Tools | Add-ins option - in theory, this is very simple.
When installed, the add-in creates an Wiz-Kit Flash Toolbar within PowerPoint
as shown in Figure 1 -- if you don't find it there choose
View | Toolbars | Wiz-Kit Flash Toolbar.
Figure 1: Flash Toolbar
Follow these steps to insert a flash movie in PowerPoint.
- Create a new presentation or open an existing one -- then add a
new slide, choose Format | Slide Layout and choose the Blank layout.
- With this new slide active, click the first option Insert
Flash Movie in the Flash toolbar (See Figure 2)
Figure 2: Insert Flash Movie
When clicked, this opens a dialog box from where you can select the Flash SWF movie you want to insert in the presentation. When the movie is inserted, Flash Toolbar opens a dialog box where you tweak options for the movie (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Flash Movie Settings
After making changes, click on Insert button to place the Flash SWF movie on the slide.
- Once this is done, you will find a transparent placeholder on the
slide with bounding box as shown in Figure 4 -- drag
this to resize and reposition manually. To see the Flash movie playing,
you need to play the presentation.
Figure 4: Flash Movie with bounding box
All the options on the Flash Toolbar are explained below:
Figure 5: Flash Toolbar Options
- Insert Flash Movie allows you to insert any Flash
SWF movie in the active presentation.
- Loop Movie is for applying a loop to the movie.
- Un-Loop Movie removes the looping characteristic from the movie.
- Set Automatic Play -- choose this option to change the setting of the movie, either to play as soon as the slide is displayed during a presentation, or to wait until the user clicks on the movie.
- Remove Automatic Play will remove this automatic play setting.
- Create a static image slide of movie -- this
converts the Flash SWF movie into a series of still images (see Figure
6). Check out Colin's explanation of this option later
in this review.
Figure 6: Flash Options
- Rewind all Flash movies checks for all the Flash SWF movies in the presentation, and rewinds them all to the beginning.
- Remove Flash movies and macros removes all the Flash SWF movies and macros from the presentation.
- Movie settings displays the Flash Movie Settings dialog box.
- Help takes you to the support page on the product web site.
- Insert Flash Movie allows you to insert any Flash SWF movie in the active presentation.
I asked Colin about the option to create a set of static image slides from a movie as this is something that's not seen anywhere else -- and Colin explained that although this may seems simple, it was quite tricky to get all the options people required. This option was developed because In-Shop had quite a few requests from people who use longer Flash movies, but have been unable to print them out or email the presentation, and are required to manually make a range of stills. e.g. if you want 8 to 10 stills from a product movie.
Flash Toolbar costs $45.00 for a single-user license. Multiple user licenses are available.
Email support is complemented by a small online FAQ.
I like Flash Toolbar -- it does one task, and it does it well. Having said that, In-Shop needs to revisit their pricing -- S45 is a high price to pay for just inserting Flash movies inside PowerPoint -- many free tools and even larger add-in collections with that ability are priced lower. What sets Flash Toolbar apart is the extra Flash movie settings they provide -- so if you really do need those, it might be worth the $45. If this tool was priced around $30, I would say go for it.
Update: Based on the feedback from this review, In-Shop has reduced the pricing to $38 now, which makes it a much better return for investment.