Snapz Pro X movie capture from PowerPoint
Reviewed by: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: February
Last Updated: February 28th 2009
I work cross-platform on PowerPoint for Windows and Mac. Most PowerPoint users on Windows believe that the best feature on PowerPoint for Mac is the ability to export an entire movie to a QuickTime file. A few PowerPoint designers actually create their presentations on Windows but move them to the Mac so that they can produce a movie.
So is PowerPoint's QuickTime output good enough? For simple presentations, it is adequate. Add some complicated animations or include a voice-over or background music score and PowerPoint's movie output options get stretched to their limits.
At times, I've output movies from PowerPoint:mac 2004 only to find that the entire narration for a slide plays before the first animation sequence even starts moving. That's clearly not acceptable.
Someone suggested Snapz Pro X as an alternative. Read more...
I downloaded and installed a trial version of Snapz Pro X. The trial version works identical to the full version for 15 days. Snapz Pro X loads with Mac OS X by default and you need to press the z+Shift+3 keys to activate it. We'll explore the capture options later in this review.
To cut a long story short, let me tell you that my first movie capture of a PowerPoint presentation with Snapz Pro X exceeded my expectations. I even played it on Windows using the QuickTime Player and it was smoother than any other presentation capture that I had done on that platform.
My first movie capture with Snapz Pro X
SnapzProX is from Ambrosia Software, a company based in Rochester, New York, United States. Apart from SnapzProX, Ambrosia also makes SnapzPro, a similar product for those who still use OS 9 or other Mac OS classic versions. Ambrosia also creates several other Mac programs.
My contact at Ambrosia for this review was Andrew Welch, the developer of Snapz ProX, and the president of Ambrosia Software. Thank you, Andrew.
For this tutorial, I'm using a presentation that contains over a thousand gradient swatches. To make sure that I take Snapz Pro X to its limits I recorded a narration on each slide using PowerPoint:mac 2004 and a Plantronics DSP300 headset.
To ensure a perfect video capture, make sure you follow these guidelines:
Color and Resolution: To make the finished movie smaller in size, change the resolution and color depth and set it to 800 x 600 pixels at 256 colors. That's not too many colors - and your display make look patchy. Fortunately, it looks much better after a reboot so if you are lowering your resolution and color depth, do make sure that you reboot before doing an actual capture.
Start and end with blank slides: So that the narration on your first slide does not begin even before you can begin the capture, include a blank black or white slide before the presentation. Set the transition of this slide to occur on mouse-click. Create a similar last slide in the presentation.
Moving between slides: While the video capture is being done, make sure that you use the spacebar to move to the next slide rather than the mouse since the capture could pick up the mouse click sound.
Close applications: Make sure that you are not connected to an instant messenger application like MSN Messenger while doing the capture - you don't want a window popping up inside the capture to announce that a friend has just come online!
Follow these steps to do a typical PowerPoint to video capture using Snapz Pro X:
- Launch PowerPoint and open your presentation. You can record the
narration using PowerPoint's narration feature (Slide Show | Record
Narration. Alternatively, you might want to record using the microphone
along with the video capture.
- Include a blank slide before the presentation (see guidelines above). Play the presentation so that you are on the first slide. Press the z+Shift+3 shortcut key (or any other shortcut key if you changed the defaults). This will initiate Snapz Pro X and bring forth a dialog box (see screenshot).
- Select the Movie option and Snapz Pro X brings another dialog box (see screenshot).
- Change the Selection style to
"Fixed size". Set the size to the resolution of your screen.
- If you want to record voice using the microphone along with the
capture, make sure that you check the option that says "Microphone
If you want to record voice that is part of the PowerPoint presentation, make sure that you check the option that says "Mac audio track".
To begin recording, double-click outside the dialog box.
- Play the presentation as required - be aware that everything is
being recorded to a movie. You can record a narration along with
the presentation. When you want to stop the movie capture, just press
the hotkeys (by default, z+Shift+3)
- As soon as you press the hotkey, Snapz Pro X springs to life (see
- Click on the audio track settings and choose the Qualcomm PureVoice
option - this setting keeps the file size low.
- Snapz Pro X now saves the entire recorded presentation to a movie.
Movies recorded through Snapz Pro X are saved to the QuickTime MOV format. You can take this further:
- Play the movie on Mac and Windows computers.
- Stream the movie off the web.
- Convert to AVI using QuickTime Professional.
- Creating a DVD on a Mac is simple - just drag the movie to iDVD to create a DVD that can be played on a regular DVD player.