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PowerPoint and Video - Part II

Learn about PowerPoint and Video.


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...Continued from Page 1

PowerPoint and Codecs?
Which Codec Does this Video Clip Use?
Determine and Download Codecs
Convert Codecs and Formats
Insert Video
Link Videos (for unsupported formats)

Continued on Page 3...


PowerPoint and Codecs?

All audio and video files use a codec. In effect, PowerPoint needs to decode these codec-transcoded media files when they have to be played.

PowerPoint by itself does not decode the audio and video files - rather it uses the MCI player (all PowerPoint versions before PowerPoint 2003). PowerPoint 2003 uses both the MCI player and Windows Media Player - you'll find more info about how PowerPoint 2003 deals with multimedia files in this informative article by Andrew May on the Microsoft site.

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Which Codec Does this Video Clip Use?

To find out which codec a particular video clip is encoded with, you'll need to use a third-party tool like AVICodec - after you install AVICodec, you can right-click any video clip in Windows Explorer and choose AVICodec : detailed information to view more info.

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Determine and Download Codecs

Quite often, you cannot play video files because of missing codecs. However, there are times when you cannot play video files in PowerPoint even though you have the codecs installed - this happens when your MCI settings are changed. You must read the PowerPoint and Multimedia article by Austin Myers to find out if changing your MCI settings helps.

If changing your MCI settings does not resolve the problem, you can find out which codec a particular video file uses with AVIcodec. Right-click any video file in Windows Explorer and choose AVIcodec: detailed information to know which codec the media file uses. Thereafter, you can probably find a link to download your codec from these sites:

  • You can download Microsoft's WindowsMedia codecs from the Microsoft site...

  • Illustrate's Codec Central has more info and downloads on codecs than anywhere else.

  • Codec Corner is another cool codec site - I love their codec test links that allow you to load 3 second test clips!

  • The FOURCC site has extensive information on all types of codecs.

  • The Nimo All in One Codec Pack includes many of the possible codecs you might need. Be careful though, too many codecs do not translate into too much good. Click here to get the download...

  • The TechSmith Screen Capture Codec can be downloaded from the TechSmith site...

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Convert Codecs and Formats

Converting between codecs is easy. If you do use digital video applications like Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas Pro, you already know more than just conversion of codecs and formats.

I need to mention here that changing codecs involves recompression of video files and thus deteriorates the movie quality - only convert codecs and formats if there is no other viable option left.

There are several shareware and freeware applications that allow you to convert between codecs and video formats - one such tool is Avery Lee's VirtualDub. VirtualDub is a free program under GNU General Public License. Another is Stoik's free Video Converter.

You'll find step-by-step tutorials to convert codecs using both VirtualDub and Stoik Video Converter on Indezine.com.

For converting from QuickTime to AVI, look at Indezine's PowerPoint and QuickTime page.

Vic Ferri has authored some video editing tutorials for newbies:

Splitting an AVI file with VirtualDub
Splitting an MPEG video file using TMPGEnc

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Insert Video

Normally, you'll insert video clips into PowerPoint using the Insert menu options. When you choose a video, PowerPoint prompts you if you want the video to play automatically - unless you have some reason for the video to play on a mouse click, it is a good idea to accept this option. You can always change this behavior or edit it using the Custom Animation taskpane.

  1. Navigate to the slide where you want the video inserted in a new or existing presentation.

  2. Choose Insert | Movies & Sounds | Movie from File… and choose the required video file.

  3. PowerPoint prompts you if you want the movie to play automatically or only when clicked - choose your option. It is a good idea to choose the automatic option if you are not sure since removing that behavior is usually a one-click operation - adding that behavior on the other hand takes several steps.

If you need to change the behavior of inserted videos to play automatically, follow these steps:

  1. Select the movie. Choose Slide Show | Custom Animation. In PowerPoint 2002 and 2003, this will activate the Custom Animation taskpane - in older versions this will display the Custom Animation dialog box.

  2. PowerPoint 97 and 2000: Place a check mark next to the movie in the slide objects box (top left). Then, select the Automatically 00:00 seconds after previous event in the Start Animation section of the Order and Timing tab.

    PowerPoint 2002 and 2003: Click the downward pointing arrow next to the name of the movie file in the Custom Animation taskpane and choose Timing from the resultant menu. Choose the After Previous option in the Start drop down box and choose 0 seconds for the Delay option.


Resize Videos: You can resize your video once it is inserted in a slide. Once you select the video, you'll see eight handles around it - four on the corners and the other four between the corners (on the sides).

  • Drag it from the corner handle to resize it in the same proportion on all sides.

  • Drag it from the side handle to resize it without proportion.

  • Drag it from the corner or sides with both the Ctrl and Shift keys pressed to resize it from the center.

PowerPoint allows you to insert AVI, MOV (older versions only), MPG, WMV and ASF video formats natively. For these formats, you'll be allowed much control in the form of timing, video size and appearance.

Fade Videos: Sometimes, you might want a video clip to fade in before it starts playing - it is always good to have a video clip appear subtly rather than have it appear and play all at once, especially since PowerPoint does not allow you to fade just the audio part of the video.

  1. Select the inserted video clip, right-click and choose Custom Animation. This will activate the Custom Animation taskpane.

  2. Choose Add Effect | Entrance | Fade within the taskpane. If Fade is not one of the options visible, choose Add Effect | Entrance | More Effects… option. In the resultant dialog box, choose the Fade option under the 'Subtle' category of animations.

  3. By default, PowerPoint chooses the 'On Click' option to initiate the fade effect - change that to 'With Previous' so that the video fades in without any intervention while playing.

  4. You might also want to adjust the speed of the fade - by default, PowerPoint chooses Medium, but you also have the Slow, Very Slow, Fast and Very Fast options to choose from.

You can also add a nice border to your video clip in PowerPoint itself. This ends up often looking like a frame.

  1. Select the video clip, right click and choose the Format Picture option.

  2. Choose the 'Colors and Lines' tab and choose a Line Color. You can also choose and alter the line weight, style and dashed attributes of the line (border).

Tip: For a very different effect, choose a weight of at least 10 points and then choose the 'Patterned Lines' option in the Color dropdown menu. A striped or checked border that's somewhat thick can provide a very elegant look. Try and use light colors for patterned line borders since you don't want the border to be more attractive than the video itself!

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Link Videos (for unsupported formats)

For other formats, especially ones like RealVideo and QuickTime (newer versions); sometimes the only route open is to link the videos from a hyperlink or Action button.

  1. To link a video file, select text (or portion of any text), an Action button or even an inserted picture or AutoShape.

  2. Right-click and choose Action Settings.

  3. In the Mouse Click tab, click the downward arrow button in the Hyperlink to: area and choose the 'Other File' option.

  4. Navigate and choose the video file that you want to play. Click OK.

Now clicking on whatever has been provided an Action Setting attribute will initiate the associated program in slideshow mode. If you have linked to a RealVideo movie, this might initiate RealPlayer or the QuickTime player in case you have linked to a MOV video. In all cases you will have to close the video clip independently of PowerPoint.

Tip: You can use the linking technique to initiate any associated program from within PowerPoint, even non-video files.

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Continued on Page 3...


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