Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Adding narration to your PowerPoint 2007 slideshow and outputing to video

This is probably common knowledge but I thought I would blog this very easy way of getting your voice onto a PowerPoint presentation.

The completed presentation (if packaged as a 'PowerPoint Slide Show file) can be distributed and played on any PC.  So how does this work? Well as the user records their voice and moves through the slides, all the information is cleverly recoded including the timings of each slide. This process can be done in the comfort of your office but I expect the braver lecturers may try this during an actual lecture (just dont forget to save the file afterwards - and take a blank large capacity USB memory stick with you...) From a student/staff usability point of view this is the easiest way of viewing past lectures.

How do I make a presentation with narration?
  • Create your presentation (all slides) first (N.B. its useful to add cue points - numbers or symbols to areas on the slides as the mouse movements are not saved).
  • Obtain a good microphone/headset (you can actually hear your voice through the headset, which helps you get the intonation right) - ensure the microphone works on your PC first!.
  • Go to the Slide Show tab as if you were giving a presentation.
  • Ether rehearse the timings or go for the riskier option of doing it in one go...
  • After selecting the 'Record Narration' button, you are then shown the following window:

Select image to enlarge.

Note the 'quality setting' is the default shown on my PC, it may vary on yours depending on your software. Its usually good enough to leave as default, as you are only recording voice.  However if you are not happy with the quality try changing the 'attributes' drop down menu.  (N.B. Selecting a higher kHz settings means better quality, however, the higher the quality the larger the final file size!)  A cheap microphone or holding it too close to your mouth will cause distortions or breath noises, so be aware.
  • Select 'Set Microphone Level' option as shown above. This is the best way to ensure the microphone is working and allows the software to automatically set the input volume based on your voice (speak during this part to get the levels...)

  • Select OK and you're live and recording!
  • The presentation will run as normal, just speak freely into the microphone about each slide and let the software do the rest of the work for you.  The timings of the slides are also recorded, but unfortunately it is not possible to see the mouse movement.  Remember this omission while talking ensuring your potential audience is guided verbally to each part of the slide.
  • Once complete, simply press the Esc (Escape) key relieving a pop-up window. 
  • Only select SAVE if you are happy with the voice recordings and this will automatically be added to all your slides (note the little loudspeaker icon - bottom right of each slide -).

You are now able to play back the presentation and hear your narration. If you are still happy with the result the next step is to package as a PowerPoint Slide Show file. You are then ready to distribute to your students (e.g. on your module page):

So how do I get this into a video format?
This is the tricky part, as there is no option built into Office 2007 to do this...(this option is only available to Office 2010 users, outputting to a Windows Media Video WMV file). One suggestion is to use one of the many pay for software options that are designed to do this (somewhat costly!) for example powerpoint-to-dvd.org provides examples.

Using a screen grab software could work...
An alternative is to record the PowerPoint Show in real-time using a screen grab software. CAMstudio (freeware) is a fairly good one, also mentioned on fellow learning technologist Edd Boulton's blog.  As with most free software it is not without its limitations in video file format.  The principle is to select your screen area with the capture software, run the PowerPoint while recording with the capture software.  The capture software then saves this as a video.

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