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PowerPoint and Director

Learn about using PowerPoint with Director, a multimedia program.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint




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See Also: Getting PowerPoint Into Director


First Things First
Two Ways
Look At Formats
Import Into Director
The DCR Format
Director In PowerPoint
Shockwave ActiveX
Before You Begin
Step-by-Step
New 8.5 Abilities
Director Again
Disclaimer


First Things First

Macromedia Director has a strange yet undisclosed association with Microsoft PowerPoint. Director was always a multimedia program. Now, it is a web and 3D content tool as well. PowerPoint has always been a presentation program, and now its capabilities are blurring distinction lines between presentation and multimedia applications. Still, there are many other facts to consider: while PowerPoint doesn't even come close to Director's multi-faceted abilities, its widespread use and reach coupled with ease of use is miles ahead of Director's repertoire.

Somewhere along the way, you'll find professionals and teams who use both tools. Many of their problems stem from the fact that it is so difficult for both programs to exchange elements and co-exist.

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Two Ways - Back And Forth

Between two programs, there are usually two ways to exchange information: back and forth.

First, we'll take a look at importing PowerPoint content into Director, and then discuss the other way. But first, let's look at both the file formats

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A Look At Formats

Both PowerPoint and Director have complex file formats. And that's just touching the tip of the iceberg. Director's formats include DIR, DXR, EXE and DCR. PowerPoint's file formats include PPT, POT, PPS and HTML/MHT (for web presentations)

Director's editing format is DIR. Once you have a complete project, you can choose to save it as a protected DXR file. Of course you could also create a standalone EXE file (projector, in Director parlance) or output to the ShockWave Director format, DCR, that is used to deliver content online.

PowerPoint's default format is PPT. POT is a PowerPoint Template format, whereas PPS is basically the PowerPoint Show format. In addition, PowerPoint since its 2000 version outputs to a proprietary HTML/MHT format, rendered satisfactorily by Internet Explorer 5 or higher.

In addition, third party tools allow the export of an entire PowerPoint presentation to the Flash SWF format. Also, you can export presentations to QuickTime MOV format using PowerPoint on the Macintosh. Both SWF and MOV files can be imported straightaway into Director.

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PowerPoint Import Into Director

Since version 6.5, Director has shipped with an Xtra which takes care of importing PowerPoint files into Director.

Of PowerPoint's various formats, only PPT files can be imported into Director, and that too with limitations. First of all, you can only import PowerPoint Version 4 files. Many PowerPoint users tend to think of version 4 more in the sense of memorabilia than anything else. Back in those days, PowerPoint's abilities were seriously less. What's more, it was the last of PowerPoint's 16 bit formats, designed to run on Windows 3.1, before the days of Windows 95 and 32 bit operating systems.

Fortunately, you can open your newer presentations into a new version like PowerPoint 2000 and choose to save as an older version 4 format. You'll lose all the bells and whistles, but all the text, basic bullets and transitions and images will be retained.

PowerPoint Import Into Director

Unfortunately, PowerPoint 2002 does not allow you to save to the PowerPoint 4 format. You'll need access to PowerPoint 97 or 2000 to convert to the earlier version.

Once a version 4 file has been created, its a one-step procedure to import the file within Director from the Xtras menu. Be aware, however that some tweaking will be required after the import.

You can find more information from the following Macromedia TechNote:

Importing PowerPoint slide shows into Director 6.5 and later

Here's a tip from Andrew Morton, an Indezine reader:

Another way to get a PowerPoint presentation into Director is to use OpenOffice.org to save the presentation as a SWF file which can then be imported into Director as any other Flash SWF file. However, transitions don't seem to get carried through, although it is easy to control the Flash sprite in Director and apply transitions through Lingo, Director's scripting language. This works for any PowerPoint version which OpenOffice can open.

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The DCR Format

DCR is the format Macromedia Director uses to deliver web content. It's similar, although more advanced than the other Macromedia web format, SWF, which belongs to its Flash program.

The only way possible to incorporate Director content in PowerPoint is to output DCR files from Director. To convert your Director content to the DCR format, you can refer to your Director manual or help menu.

The Macromedia site has an excellent introduction to Shockwave Publishing.

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Playing Director Movies in PowerPoint

One would imagine that with everyone talking about ways to insert Flash movies into PowerPoint, it would only be a matter of time before similar questions would be raised about inserting Macromedia Director movies within PowerPoint. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's amazing that in months of research, I could not find anything on the Internet on this subject. Finally, I tried to do it myself, and the technique is detailed later in this page.

First, however I suggest you read the ActiveX sections on the PowerPoint And Flash page at Indezine:

PowerPoint And Flash

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Shockwave ActiveX Control

Many of the systems which have the Shockwave Flash control installed also have another similar control installed as well. This is actually the Macromedia Director Shockwave control and is known as Shockwave ActiveX Control.

There are two such controls on most systems: the Flash control called Shockwave Flash Control and the Director control called the Shockwave ActiveX Control.

The prerequisites and techniques are strikingly similar. All you need to realize is that the Director control is separate from the Flash control. To install or update your Director control, visit:

Macromedia Shockwave (link no longer exists)

If you need to view more options, visit:

Macromedia Shockwave Alternate Downloads (link no longer exists)

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Before You Begin

Before we begin inserting Director DCR content into PowerPoint, save the DCR file in the same folder as the actual PowerPoint PPT presentation file. This way, we will not have to enter a complete absolute path string later.

For my example, I've used a DCR file I quickly created using Director 8.5. To preview any DCR file just drag it from Windows Explorer into an open Internet Explorer window (presuming you have installed the Shockwave ActiveX control, discussed earlier on this page).

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Step-by-Step

  1. Open or create a new PowerPoint presentation. Save it in the same folder as your sample DCR file.
  2. Choose View | Toolbars | Control Toolbox. Doing so will open the Control toolbar. This is how it looks in PowerPoint 2000. It may look different in your system.
  3. Step-by-Step
  4. Near the bottom of this Control Toolbox, you'll find the 'More Controls' icon, represented by a hammer.
  5. Click on this icon to reveal a drop down list of available ActiveX controls.
  6. Click on the Shockwave ActiveX option.
  7. Step-by-Step
  8. Your cursor will change into a cross-hair. Draw a rectangle anywhere on screen. Don't bother about the size and location now; we'll take care of that later.
  9. Your rectangle will be invisible, since its only a placeholder. However, if you did not click anywhere, you'll find it surrounded by eight handles.
  10. Step-by-Step
  11. Right-click anywhere inside the rectangle to reveal a fly-out menu. Choose the Properties option.
  12. Step-by-Step
  13. The Shockwave Ctl Properties opens.
  14. Step-by-Step
  15. Click on the blank cell next to the SRC option and just fill in the name of your DCR file. We need not enter any path since the DCR file has been preserved in the same folder as the presentation. Unfortunately, the Control automatically picks up the absolute path of the file, so you will have to edit the path again if you were to change folders, drives or computers.
  16. Step-by-Step
  17. You'll notice that the Control is intelligent enough to pick up the actual length and width coordinates of your DCR file in the Properties box, although this does not reflect on the actual slide.
  18. Position and resize the control as required on the actual slide.
  19. You're done! You may want to try out the many other options included in the Shockwave Ctl properties box.
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New 8.5 Abilities

Macromedia's new Director 8.5 has more abilities up its sleeve. Foremost is its 3D engine, which enables walkthroughs and close-ups in 3D space. Implications for PowerPoint usage of such Director content is extremely interesting, a hitherto unexplored horizon.

Another interesting capability within Director 8.5 is its native support for RealAudio, thus opening possibilities for hybrid PowerPoint-Director-RealAudio web presentations.

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Director Again

Since this page was created, I've received some extra content from Adam Crowley about exporting PowerPoint content to Director. You'll find it here.

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Disclaimer

This is just an experiment. No support can be provided for the techniques listed here. Also, I don't suppose either Microsoft or Macromedia would offer support on this subject.

However, both Microsoft and Macromedia newsgroups are well visited and intelligent interactions are possible on both the forums.

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