Storyboarding PowerPoint to Video & DVD or Animated GIFs on the Cheap
(Please be patient as this tutorial loads. It is quite detailed and has many pictures.)
More and more folks are asking how to burn their presentations to DVDs and the reasons are obvious. First, PowerPoint is an extremely easy multimedia authoring tool. Nearly everyone with a PC has PowerPoint and you don't have to be a genius to use it. Second, DVDs have become very cost-effective to create and nearly everyone has a DVD player (even my 88 year old Granny). And DVDs don't require a computer to play. With PowerPoint and DVD you have an easy method of getting your message out, whether it's a training video or a digital business card promoting your products or service. And your audience can view it at home as well as in the office.
For most folks, saving your PowerPoint presentations to a video or DVD means capturing the presentation as it's running and then using some method to save it as a video and then put that video on DVD. This tutorial takes a different approach, turning PowerPoint into a storyboard of slides that can then be used to create a video/DVD or animated gif file. A storyboard is like the old cartoon flipbooks. A flipbook consists of a series of pictures held together in a stack at one end so the stack of images can be "flipped" through with your thumb. The images on the pages appear to move.
Storyboarding your presentation is entirely different than capturing a presentation running on the screen. The end results can be quite spectacular, but it will probably require more effect and thought on your part. If you want to capture your running presentation to video and DVD, see Taj Simmons' tutorials on PowerPoint to Video and PowerPoint to DVD or Betsy Weber's tutorial on Taking PowerPoint to Video and Publishing it to DVD and I recommend purchasing Camtasia. If you want to create an animated GIF, you must use the storyboarding method.
If you're using PowerPoint on a MAC, see this tutorial on Transferring Presentations to DVD with DVDSP 3.
Examples are included at the end of the tutorial.
If you're creating Videos, you need:
Either Photo Slideshow Software
There are many photo slideshow applications available on the net for little or no cost. Most Digital Cameras come with software that let you create videos from your photos. You can do a Google Search on "Photo Slideshow Software" or check c/net's download.com site for free or near free software that creates a video from photo images. Microsoft makes it's Photo Story 3 software available free for Windows XP, but make sure your PC meets the system requirements. Any videos created with Photo Story 3 require Windows Media Player 10 for playback or the player will automatically prompt to download the required video codec from the Microsoft Web site. This is important to know if you plan to post your videos on the net or share them via email. A clever way around this is to get PFCMedia. Although it's designed for video within PowerPoint, it does recompress the video as an external file and resolves most compatibility issues.
Or Video Editing Software
There is also a plethora (which means a whole lot) of movie making software. Most DVD Burners come with software that let you create videos. You can do a Google Search on "Video Editing Software" or check c/net's download.com site for free or near free software that creates video and movies. Microsoft makes it's Movie Maker software available free for Windows XP, but make sure your PC meets the system requirements.
If you're also creating DVDs, you need:
A DVD Burner
DVD Burning Software
If you have a DVD Burner, it should have came with the software to burn DVDs. Sonic offers Photo Story 3 DVD plug-in for only $20 and a combination package with My DVD for only $50. You'll want to make sure your DVD Burning software has the ability to convert the format of your video to one that plays on a conventional television DVD player. Many of the photo slideshow and video editing software packages include the ability to burn to DVD or at least import videos to be burned to DVD.
If you are going to play your DVD on a TV, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP Taj Simmons offers the following suggestions:
The quality (resolution) of a TV is not as good as a computer monitor. Keep these points in mind to get the best results.
Avoid putting information too close the edge of your slides, otherwise this information may be cut off when viewed on a TV
Avoid very small text. A lot depends on the quality of the TV and how far back the TV will be viewed from. Aim for no smaller than 30 point font sizes
Avoid very thin lines. Aim for at least 3 point line sizes
Avoid certain colors. Red is notoriously bad for video
Avoid very skinny / lite / thin / serif fonts. Aim for Arial (sans-serif), bold and black weights
Aim for dark backgrounds (dark blue), and light colored text (white / yellow)
If you're creating Animated Gifs, you need:
Animated Gif Software
Animated Gif software "stitches" together images and saves them in a single file that rotates through the images. Microsoft GIF Animator is a free utility for creating animated gif files. Animator9 is a very nice freeware application as well. A Google search or a check on c/net's download.com will also show many free or near free options. Many of the recommendations for DVD on TV apply to animated gif files as well, especially text. If your animated gif is going to have text, don't put more that one or two lines of text per slide. And make the text as large as possible.
Turn Your Presentation into a Storyboard
If you want to use an existing presentation, there are some steps you need to take to change the presentation to a storyboard format.
Save a copy of your original presentation with a new name.
For example: present.ppt can be saved to presentvideo.ppt and all storyboard work done on this version of the presentation.
Turn off AutoFit.
Microsoft PowerPoint, by default, automatically formats certain types of text as you type. Automatic paragraph formatting includes automatic bulleted and numbered lists and resizing of text in text placeholders if the text doesn't fit at its current font size. If you want text on a slide to appear line by line (as shown in the example below), you need to make sure the previous text will stay in the same place from slide to slide. Turn off AutoFit by clicking on the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect Options. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Under Apply As You Type, uncheck all the boxes. Remember to turn AutoFit back on (if desired) after working on your storyboard file.
Remove all animation.
Because you are exporting your slides as images, animations have no impact on your video. Add slides to recreate the effect of your animations. In the example below, to replace the animation effect of the text on slide 3 appearing line by line, 5 slides are created from the original slide and the text is introduced incrementally on each slide. Copies of slides are easily created by selecting the slide, clicking on Insert menu, click Duplicate Slide. Think of your slides as the cartoon flipbook. If you flip through the slides, will it give you the effect you want? Typically, a presentation with animation will need approximately 3-5 times as many slides when converted to a storyboard.
What if you have complex animations in your PowerPoint presentation?
If you have a objects with animated motions, you will need to create a frame for each half second of motion of the object. This is just like creating a cartoon. PowerPoint MVP Shyam Pillai has a free Capture Show add-in that makes this easier. View the Complex Animations presentations in the Example section below to see how to create these motion frames.
Remove all slide transitions.
As with the animation, because you're exporting your slides as images, transitions will have no effect. Most photo slideshow and video editing software includes the ability to add transitions between images. In several software packages, these transitions are as good as or superior to the ones offered in PowerPoint.
Check your storyboard.
Change to the Slide Sorter View, by clicking on the View menu, click Slide Sorter. This lets you see all your slides laid out end to end to check how you storyboard flows. If desired, print your presentation by clicking on File menu, click Print, under Print What:, choose Handouts and leave the setting for 6 Slides per page. Click ok. After your handouts have printed, cut out the slide images leaving a small margin on the left side and arrange them in the appropriate order in a stack from top to bottom. Staple the left sides together. You now have a physical flipbook of your presentation that you can thumb through to check the flow of your storyboard.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Resize your presentation.
Resize your presentation pages larger if you're creating a video and smaller if you're creating an animated gif. For video, making the slides larger improves the output resolution of the images. See Improve PowerPoint's GIF, BMP, PNG, JPG export resolution for more information about this. Your photo slideshow or video editing software should take care of resizing the pictures smaller for your video output. For animated gifs, make the slides approximately the same size as the desired animated gif. This should be much smaller than the standard 10 X 7.5 inch slide. The important thing is that the slide aspect ratio remains the same. The table below shows some recommended page sizes:
Use Page Size
40 inches width X 30 inches height
20 inches width X 15 inches height
Large Animated Gif
4 inches width X 3 inches height
Medium Animated Gif
2 inches width X 1.5 inch height
To change the page size of your presentation, click on Files menu, click Page Setup. Change the width and height of the page to meet your needs.
If you plan to use this method of creating videos frequently, consider investing in software that will increase the resolution of the images created from your slides.
Save your work.
It should go without saying that you should save your work frequently and often.
What if you have a video in your PowerPoint presentation?
If you have a video contained within your presentation, I recommend storyboarding your presentation into 2 sections. One before the video and one after the video. You can then use your video editing software to:
Insert the first storyboard section images, insert the video, insert the second storyboard section images.
If burning to DVD, create separate menu items for the presentation and video.
See the section below on Create Your Video. Most video editing software allows you to insert video files as well as images. Simply insert the video in the appropriate place in your storyboard. You cannot use photo slideshow software to add a video to your presentation video, you must use video editing software.
Once your storyboard is complete, export your slides as images. This is exceptionally easy in PowerPoint.
Click on the File Menu, click Save As and choose or create a folder for storing your images.
Click on the drop down arrow next to Save As Type: and choose GIF, JPG, BMP, TIF or PNG as your file type.
I used JPG for the examples, but you may find a different image type works better for your purposes. If you're creating an animated GIF, save your images as GIF files.
Enter a name for your files in the File Name: box. Click Save. When prompted, select Every Slide.
This saves your images to a folder with the File Name you entered. Each Slide image is named Slide#.EXT where # is an incremental number matching it's place in the storyboard and EXT is the image type you chose . For example: Slide1.JPG, Slide2.JPG, etc. This makes it very easy to insert the images in the appropriate order in your photo slideshow or video editing software.
This step depends entirely upon the photo slideshow or video editing software that you've chosen. Read the instructions that came with your software to learn how to use it properly. Although the methods may be different, there are some steps that are common to all video creation from images.
Import your images.
Select all the images from your image folder according to your application instructions.
Add your images to the storyboard.
Add each image to the storyboard used by your software. Make sure the images are in the proper order using the image name (Slide1, Slide2, etc.) as your guide.
If your software gives you the option, add transitions between your images. The example below shows the storyboard from Windows Movie Maker. The transitions are shown in the small boxes between the images. I found Photo Story 3's transitions to be the most versatile, but also the most work. The default transition is a faded zoom in and out and each image transition setting had to be changed individually.
Click to enlarge
Add other effects, if desired.
Many of the applications that I used included the ability to add other effects to the video as well as transitions. In the example above, I added a fade through black special effect to the first image. This is shown by the blue star in the lower left corner. Adding text, titles, credits, etc. were some of the additional features offered depending on the application. Make your own decisions and use what works for you.
Set the amount of time you want each image to remain on the screen and the length of the transitions between images. Most packages do a good job of setting this for you automatically. I shortened some of the images in my examples because I wanted the video to be one minute long. How you adjust the timing varies depending on the application. Most of the applications I used required timings to be adjusted using the timeline view instead of the storyboard view. You simply slide one side of the image or transition to lengthen or shorten its timing. The example below shows the Windows Movie Maker timeline. You can see where I've shortened the timing for some of the images at the beginning and end of the movie
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Add sound and/or narration, if desired.
Add sound or narration according to your application instructions. The example below shows the song "Do You Believe in Magic" added to the timeline using Photo Story 3. This example also shows where I've adjusted the timing of some of the images. It's very important to adjust the timings to your images BEFORE you add sound. You don't want your sound dragged out or speeded up in spots where you've adjusted the timings after adding sound. Many of the applications I used also allowed for narrating the video as well as adding music and sounds. If you use Movie Maker to create your video, you'll need to record your narration separately and add it as a sound file. Refer to the instructions that came with your software for the best method of adding narration.
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Add Open Captions or Subtitles.
Every application I tested offered the ability to add text to the video. This is a wonderful way to add captions or subtitles especially if you are narrating your video. This method is known as open captioning because the captions cannot be turned off and are embedded within the video (closed captioning is done after your video is saved and explained more in the Closed Caption section below). An advantage of open captions is that they don't require special formatting or software to see them. The disadvantages are that they take up space on your video and they can't be turned off. One way to get around that is to save multiple versions of your video with and without subtitles as well as versions with subtitles in different languages and allow your viewer to choose which video they'd like to watch. On a web site this would be links to different videos. On a DVD, this would be shown as Menu Options.
The example below shows how I used Photo Story 3's title feature to create a caption indicating the background music of the video. I changed the color and size of the text as well as positioned it on the bottom of the slide. Please note, I did have to use the back button to return to the section for adding text to my video. A very nice guide on Captions and Subtitles has been written by the Captioned Media Program.
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Save your video according to the directions that came with your software. I found that the applications I used all offered good guidance on how to save the video depending on my needs. You need to consider whether you want to email your video, post it on the web, view it on your computer or create a Video CD or DVD and save your video accordingly. If you are saving your videos for DVD/television, it helps to know the standards for televisions in different countries because they are not compatible with each other. See What's the difference between PAL, NTSC & SECAM? Most software gives you the option of saving your video to NTSC or PAL formatting for television. Keep in mind that if you save your file for viewing on a television, the resolution may appear blurry on the computer. This was explained under the Before You Start section.
Closed Caption or Subtitle Your Video
Closed captions are the alternative to embedding text in your video. Closed captioning videos is fairly easy to do with free MAGPie captioning software or Subtitle Workshop. Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI) offers a very inexpensive course on creating accessible multimedia.
If you're using one application to create the video and then a different application to burn it to a DVD, make sure you've saved the video in the format recommended by your software. There is a difference between video CDs played on a computer and DVDs played on a television so make sure you read the instructions that came with your software carefully. This was explained under the Before You Start section.
Create your DVD according to the directions that came with your software. In most of the applications I tested, this meant simply clicking a button to Burn DVD. The Photo Story 3 DVD plug-in makes this particularly easy as you can see in the image below. On the downside, the Photo Story 3 DVD plug-in only allows you to add one video to your DVD and doesn't give you the ability to create a DVD Menu.
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If you want to create a menu for your DVD I recommend going with the combination package with My DVD for only $50 or use the DVD authoring software that came with your DVD burner. My DVD allows you to add multiple videos, menus and submenus. The example below shows menu items for the same video with different subtitles. This was done by saving three different versions of the video (see the section on Open Captions or Subtitles above) and adding them to the DVD project with a different menu item for each.
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Creating an animated GIF file from your storyboard images is relatively simple and requires only a few steps. How you do these steps depends on the software you use. Read the instructions that came with your software.
Insert your GIF images in the appropriate order.
Add each image as required by your software. Animator9 lets you add the images as a group, but Microsoft GIF Animator has you add them one at a time. Make sure the images are in the proper order using the image name (Slide1.GIF, Slide2.GIF, etc.) as your guide.
Adjust desired output size.
Set the size of your image to one that is reasonable for its use. A bigger image means a larger file to download from the web.
Adjust the timing between images.
Set the timing between images so that it's not too fast or too slow. Microsoft GIF Animator allows you individual control over each image for these settings. Animator9 sets the same time for all images. The example below shows the timing on the first image set to .2 seconds (20/100s) using Microsoft GIF Animator.
Click to enlarge
Set rewind and looping options.
Decide whether you want your animated GIF to rewind and/or loop. Change the settings according to your software.
Save your GIF.
Save the GIF according to your software instructions. If the file size is too large for your needs, repeat the steps above but make the output size smaller.
These presentations demonstrate changing an existing presentation into storyboard format.
Before Presentation - (zip) 505 Kb PowerPoint 2002/2003 file, 10 X 7.5 inches
After Presentation - (zip) 545Kb PowerPoint (any version) file, 40 X 30 inches
Complex Animation Before - (zip) 19 Kb PowerPoint 2002/2003 file
Complex Animation After - (zip) 17 Kb PowerPoint (any version) file
Windows Media Player 10 is recommended. If you play these video stories on computers that do not have Windows Media Player 10 installed, the Player will prompt you to download the required video codec from the Microsoft Web site.
Small Video - 352 Kb Windows Media Player 10 file, 320 X 240 pixels
Medium Video - 1 Mb Windows Media Player 10 file, 640 X 480 pixels
Large Video - 2 Mb Windows Media Player 10 file, 1024 X 768 pixels
DVD-TV Video - 3 Mb Windows Media Player 10 file, 640 X 480 pixels
WMP video - 268 Kb Windows Media Player file, 160 X 120 pixels
WMP video - 4.1 Mb Windows Media Player file, 640 X 480 pixels
Complex Animation - 115 Kb Windows Media Player file, 640 X 480 pixels
These videos demonstrate the different effects, transitions and sizes provided by different video creation software. These versions of the video should play on most machines. You can see the conversion to older video (codecs) adds file size to the videos. If you're creating your videos for DVDs this won't matter much, but if you plan to share your videos through the web or email file size makes a big difference.
QT video - 3.74 Mb QuickTime Player file, 320 X 240 pixels
Created with Camtasia.
WMP video - 730 Kb Windows Media Player file, 640 X 480 pixels
Created with Camtasia.
WMP video - 202 Kb Windows Media Player file, 160 X 120 pixels
Created with Pinnacle Studio 9
WMP video - 1.2 Mb Windows Media Player file, 640 X 480 pixels
Converted from Photo Story 3 using PFCMedia
This animated gif will cycle through slides when viewed in your web browser or inserted into a PowerPoint presentation.
Animation - 377 Kb animated gif file
Complex Animation - 106 Kb animated gif file
Save and open these gif files in Microsoft GIF Animator to see all the frames and settings.
I hope you've found this tutorial helpful. Please feel free to send any feedback or comments to me.
Copyright 2005 Glenna R. Shaw.