PowerPoint & HyperCam
Learn about PowerPoint and HyperCam.
Author: Geetesh Bajaj
A Movie From A Presentation
So, What's HyperCam?
Download & Installation
A Sample Presentation
Resolution, Pixels & Mighty Systems
The Actual Capture
Examining The Capture
Pricing, Ideas & Conclusion
I've actually lost count of the occasions on which I've been asked to suggest a convenient route to convert PowerPoint presentations to movies. On the Apple Macintosh, it's really simple - PowerPoint 2001 for the Macintosh contains the ability to output to a QuickTime movie natively. Surprisingly, even the newer PowerPoint 2002 for Windows lacks this feature. Incidentally, for Mac users of PowerPoint, you'll find a step-by-step tutorial at this link from MacWorld:
Getting back to PowerPoint for Windows, there are workarounds to create movies from almost any version of PowerPoint. Let's explore.
When there's no native way to output to a movie, one does tend to think about the next logical course of action. That's predictably a screen capture program. Again, screen capture programs come in two varieties for still and moving video capture. Video capture options include Lotus ScreenCam, Microsoft Camcorder, TechSmith Camtasia, Matchware Screencorder and finally our actual choice for this project - Hyperionics HyperCam. Compared to the other products, HyperCam has many virtues on either the price or features front - however any comparitive discussion is beyond the scope of this article. So, let's proceed straightaway.
HyperCam's product statement reads as under:
"HyperCam captures the action from your Windows screen and saves it to AVI (Audio-Video Interleaved) movie file. Sound from your system microphone is also recorded."
You'll find more information on HyperCam at:
To follow our sample project, you can download a trial or full version of HyperCam from the Hyperionics web site at:
Installation is a straightforward procedure - if you have already purchased a license, you can register using the procedure detailed in the mail you receive from Hyperionics.
Video captures through the unregistered version of HyperCam will however leave a HyperCam watermark on captured AVI files.
My visit to Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal forms the basis of my sample presentation. It's a very basic PowerPoint presentation with the usual wipe transitions and a few custom animations. It uses a single backdrop throughout and the show is set to advance automatically from one slide to another. One specific change here is to use a larger font size throughout the presentation. If you want to follow this tutorial in its entirety, download the source file here:
This presentation was created using PowerPoint 2000 - but can be played equally well on PowerPoint 97 and 2002.
Video is a great equalizer - its can bring both mighty and lowly systems to bow down - yet it goes without saying that you'll need a responsive machine to do anything worthwhile during this tutorial.
My system is usually set to a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels at 32 bit colour - way too high for any decent video capture. So, the first thing I do is to change the resolution to a more manageable 800 x 600 pixels at 16 bit High Colour mode. The presentation looks equally good at this resolution - and HyperCam heaves a sigh of relief too!
There's more good news - PowerPoint has a great quarter screen slide show feature - if you capture your presentation in this mode, it means your computer has to struggle only 25% as much of what it would have had to do in normal circumstances.
To run a slideshow in PowerPoint in quarter screen mode, just hold your Control key while you click the slideshow button below the PowerPoint slide window (see picture)
The presentation should typically now run in quarter screen mode on the top left of your desktop.
Now, let's fire up HyperCam!
Run HyperCam. Before we actually begin to capture our presentation into a movie, we need to tweak a few options within HyperCam. All tweaks are based on the assumption that you have set your desktop resolution to 800 x 600 pixels for this tutorial.
HyperCam typically loads up as an application with six tabs. The first of these tabs is 'Screen Area'. Match your options to be identical to those in the following screenshot:
The next tab is named 'Hot Keys' - here you can choose a custom hotkey to begin and stop a video capture recording. The default is F2 and should work fine unless it conflicts with any other installed application. You can choose your own hotkey in that case. There are similar customisable hotkeys available for pausing and taking still shots.
A tab named 'AVI File' is our next stop - first take a look at the following screenshot:
First, choose the folder where you want to save the captured AVI file. Thereafter, change the key frame rate from 20 to 30. Let everything else be set at default values. Now, let's proceed to the next tab.
The next tab is 'Sound' - I've opted not to record any sound, since the sample presentation we're using does not use any audio stream.
Finally, in the 'Other Options' tab, deselect the 'Record Cursor' check box. We're now done with our pre-capture configuration.
- Load up both HyperCam and PowerPoint.
- Your HyperCam settings should be set as explained earlier on
this page. Your desktop resolution should be set to 800 x 600
- Open the sample presentation in PowerPoint. Run the presentation
in quarter screen mode as explained earlier in this page.
- Press F2 or your custom hotkey to begin the video capture through
- Since the sample presentation is set to advanced automatically
through slides, we need not do anything during the capture. Wait
until the presentation completes.
- Press F2 or your custom hotkey to stop the video capture.
- You're done!
My actual capture spanning 50 seconds stood at over 5 MB - the quality was excellent - zooming up to fullscreen mode (use Alt-Enter in Windows Media Player) showed very little pixelation.
At over 1 MB for every 10 seconds, the output can be used extensively for CD-ROM, DVD-ROM and broadband internet delivery. Unforunately, you cannot expect realtime display on a dial-up connection - streaming media is a good option in that case. Again, streaming media can be optimised to suit internet connection speeds. You'll find more details later in this article.
Meanwhile, you can download this WindowsMedia file in WMV format optimised for a medium speed Internet connection using Windows Media Encoder 7.1
More often than not, you may want to post process your video capture for efficient delivery on CD-ROM, the internet or any other media. Take a look at these options:
- If you already have a video editing package like Adobe Premiere,
Ulead Video Studio or MGI VideoSuite, you can trim the captures
from within those applications - this way you can actually start
a capture a little before your actual capture event, secure in
the knowledge that you can trim it later.
- You may want to compress your captured videos to various lean
formats like RealMedia, WindowsMedia, MPEG, QuickTime or DivX
;-) - the following links may prove helpful:
Terran's Cleaner is the big daddy of all compression programs. An excellent wizard style interface leads you through various options in a question-and-answer mode. It outputs to RealMedia, WindowsMedia, MPEG and QuickTime.
QuickTime Professional can create highly compact QuickTime movies.
Microsoft's free Windows Media Encoder does a great job on conversion of AVIs to more efficient ASF/WMV files.
Real has both free and priced versions of their RealProducer product - providing a quick way to output RealMedia files.
HyperCam costs only US$30 - at this price, it definitely provides excellent value for money. However, HyperCam offers no editing features - you cannot even set in and out points and remove unwanted parts of a capture. Hyperionics suggests you buy a product called VideoFramer from FlickerFree for this purpose - however this product costs US$89.95. Naturally, VideoFramer does a lot more than just video slicing - nevertheless, video slicing is a feature that should have been built into HyperCam in the first place.
Fortunately, there are many free tools available to slice captured videos. This page provides more details:
On every other front, HyperCam is an excellent product. There are a few products which excel in their area of activity - HyperCam is definitely one of them. And at this price range, no one should complain!