There are essentially 3 basic ways to make a movie from a PowerPoint (PPT) slide show. These are :-
(A) Use PowerPoint 2010 (link to Microsoft's web site) to open your PPT and 'Save As', 'Video' (or use some other application that 'understands' PowerPoint and has a 'save as video' option)
(B) Use a 'Screen scraper' - run your PPT slide show using PowerPoint itself in full-screen 'presentation' mode, whilst using some software (or hardware) to perform a series of 'screen captures'.
(C) Use a 'Screen redirector' - run software that uses PowerPoint (or 'emulates' PowerPoint) to render the PPT show whilst diverting (redirecting) the output to itself (so the rendered slide-show is recorded by the application) rather than being shown on your display screen).
As you will discover, unless you upgrade to Office 2010** / 2013, it is extremely hard to obtain a real, full speed, full resolution movie. The simplest method is to divert and capture the output of a running show, as in (C) above, however commercial vendors seem to have a virtual monopoly over this route, so I will consider the other options first.
**You can use Office 2010 for 60 days*** on a 'Free Trial' basis. If you only have a few PPT presentations that you need to convert as a 'one off' task, this may be a viable route to take. You will need to create a 'Windows Live ID' and your trial key will be sent by eMail. Note that MS may decide to withdraw the 'Free Trial' at any time, so if you want to go this route, I suggest you grab the chance (and get a 'key') ASAP. The MS Office 2010 install package is approx 1Gb, so you might want to download it over-night :-) ***Apparently, it is possible to extend the 'Free Trial' for up to another 150 days by using the Office 2010 Trial 're-arm' function.
Side note - what multi-media formats can you use within PowerPoint XP (PPT 2000) ?
Audio. Essentially, Microsoft .wav. The good news is that PCM 6ch .wav (5.1 surround sound) WILL play back correctly !
The even more amazing news is that Microsoft AAC 6ch (5.1) 48kHz 745kbps 'wrapped' into .wma (and 'imported' using the 'Import Movie' option) ALSO plays back correctly !
The bad news is that there is no way to get .ac3 sound, so those wanting to run a live presentation using their older 'Home Cinema' sound system are stuck with Dolby ProLogic II (5.1 packed** into stereo) .wav (which Windows can be convinced to output via S/PDIF OK)
**see my PhotoStory 3, Preparing music page for how to pack 6ch 5.1 into DPLII.
Video. Essentially, MS .wmv. When 'putting together' your PPT you may well want to include some short 'movie clips'. You will quickly discover that PPT does not 'understand' industry standard mpeg formats - Microsoft uses it's own 'version' of mpg within wmv. So, if you want to ensure the movie 'plays' in your presentation, your only real choice is to convert it to MS .wmv format
Not all .wmv's are the same. PPT 2000 uses the ancient mplay32.exe to play movies, not Windows Media Player mplayer.exe. So even after adding the required Codec (eg. using the Codec pack) .mpg won't 'play' in PPT (although it might play in Windows Movie Maker, in which case you can 'export' it as .wmv)
The only other choice is Apple Quick Time .mov format. This requires the installation of Quick Time (of course) which is fine ONLY if you are going to 'play it back' on your own computer (since there is no 'guarantee' that any other computer will have QT installed)
How to maintain quality
If you are starting with mpeg, and have to 'covert' it to .wmv for PPT, to maintain 'DVD quality' you must choose a 'variable bit rate' that is better (or at least the same) as the original .mpg file (typically, this means setting the .wmv bit-rate to 3mbs or better)
If you have a mpeg editing application, it may be better to replace the slide containing the movie clip with the 'original' mpeg clip after conversion (although synchronising the audio can be a problem)
Why are mpeg movies a 'problem' ?
The problem arises when you 'convert' your movie to wmv. PowerPoint has to 'understand' that the wmv contains 'industry standard' mpeg rather than MS mpeg (MS mpeg is 'propriatory' i.e. MS will sue you if you try to generate it. This means that most 'conversion' applications simply make use of some (usually ancient) version of the Open Source 'ffmpeg' Codec software which, of cousre, generates industry standard mpeg and not MS mpeg (not that this stops some of them claiming otherwise - and even trying to charge you for it)
(A) Power Point compatible applications that 'Save As' video
Impress, part of Open Office, is an alternative to PowerPoint that can open .ppt files and has a 'Save as' movie ('Flash' (SWF) file = open the PPT and in the File / Export dialogue box choose "Macro-media Flash file").
Unfortunately, the result may not be quite what you are expecting. Impress ignores all your auto-advance timing and generates an 'interactive' SWF (Shock Wave Flash = an interactive web movie player format) that requires a 'mouse click' to move from one slide to the next. Further, all your animation & slide transition effects are simply ignored, as are some of your font settings (such as 'shadow') - all you get are the 'completed' slides (with no intermediate animation) and each mouse click jumps from one 'finished' slide to the next.
Plainly Open Office Impress to SWF is not a viable solution if you have any sort of transition / animation effects, however it may be OK if all you are looking for is a 'cut-down version' of your presentation to 'host' on your own web site
(B) Screen capture / screen scrapers
NOTE - all screen capture software will be working in computer video 'square pixel' mode. So, for final 4:3 TV display you need to capture 'at least' the 4x3 768x576 from a PPT show designed on a standard computer display (which means, in practice, 800 x 600) so you have enough pixels to generate the DVD 4:3 720x576. If your ppt was designed on a 'widescreen' computer, then you need to capture 'at least' 1024 x 576 (for processing into DVD 16:9 720x576 'squashed pixels' and final display on a 16:9 TV)
Simple slide-shows - 'screen capture'
If your PPT is a 'simple' slide-show (no music, video, animation or transitions) you can use the Freeware PowerPoint Image Copier which will 'capture' a series of screen shots as JPG images.
PP ImageCopier works by launching PowerPoint to run your presentation in full screen mode whilst taking 'snapshots' of the screen after each animation 'event' i.e. after each transition or animation (scroll, fade etc.) of each 'bullet point' etc. is completed. For example, if a slide contains 3 bullet points, which a mouse click normally introduces one at a time, you will get a separate image 'snapshot' after each bullet point is introducedEverything on screen (including the cursor) is included in the 'snapshot'. The resolution of the JPG images will equal your screen resolution, so you need to 'get this right' (1024 x 1280, 1400x1050 or 1600x1280 are all ideal since these are correct aspect ratio for standard 4:3 DVD).
In effect, PP Image Copier is simply an automated 'Alt Print-Screen' with built-in .JPG 'save' utility.
To 'convert' your captured JPG images into a form more like your original PPT, you can load them into Photo Story 3 and add some transitions / music. To make a DVD, you then run them through your existing PhotoStory to DVD work-flow (which will include a Windows Movie Maker step where you can add in any video clips you originally had embedded in the PPT).
The drawback is, of course, you loose all your fancy 'animations', although you could use PhotoStory to 'fade' from one snapshot to the next
More complex slide-shows - 'screencasting'
For a more complex PPT, you can use 'screencasting' software. This will generate a movie directly from what's being displayed on your computer monitor. So by auto-running your PowerPoint show you can turn it into a movie.
The Open Source de-facto standard for screencasting is CamStudio. This will generate an AVI file containing 'mp4' (H264) compressed video. Since your video display hardware is busy creating PowerPoint slides, this rather complex compression must be handled by your CPU chip.
Very few computers have the necessary processing power to allow full speed / full resolution capture. You will have to make compromises, typically on the resolution (600 x 800) and colour 'depth' (16 bit). You may even have to abandon all sound recording (record it separately) just to get 'reasonable' speed video.
If you are 'aiming' at a DVD, you must set your display to a resolution to 4:3 - in practice this means running PowerPoint 'full screen' on a 800 x 600 display as a minimum
Whilst 1280x1024, 1400x1050 and 1600x1280 are also the correct aspect ratio (4:3), chances are, you will be lucky to get CamStudio to capture 800 x 600 at any sort of acceptable frame rate
You should make it as easy as possible for CamStudio to record your presentation = this means setting up your computer display 'in advance'. Chances are your PPT is 4:3 aspect ratio = so those with 'old' 4:3 displays are best placed here.
To leave as much CPU power as possible for CamStudio, set your screen refresh rate to the lowest supported = 50Hz is ideal.
Even so, doing all of the above (and closing all other applications), I was unable to achieve more than 5 fps (at 800x600).
VLC as a 'screencasting' recorder
Amazing as it may seen, VLC is "capable" of screen capture. Of course VLC's hopeless User Interface makes it virtually impossible to 'get it right' first, or, indeed, any time. Here's a few hint's to get you started, however after half a day playing around with the various recording options (and power cycling my PC half a dozen times) I concluded that VLC is even less able to generate a decent frame rate than CamStudio.
First, from File DO NOT choose 'Open Capture Device' ... this is for 'play back' NOT recording = you need to select 'Convert/Save' (and in typical VLC GUI fashion, to Record you choose 'Convert') ... and then (obviously) it's the 'Open Media' window that gives your the 'Capture Device' Tab and from where you can (also obviously) use the 'Capture mode' pull down list to find 'Desktop' as the 'source'. The only option you will be shown here is 'Desired frame rate' (I suggest you select something not too demanding, such as 1 fps, just to see if it 'works' at all). Capture will be at your screen resolution = so you might want to set that to 600x800 before opening VLC :-) Next you click 'Convert' and you will get a new window from which you can set an output file name ('Destination'). If you fail to specify a file name, VLC will 'go through the motions' but won't actually 'record' anything (and won't warn you either). Then, in Settings, you select a 'Profile' from the pull down list (which, if you are lucky, will have something that's not to far away from DVD standard (eg. "MPEG-2 + MPGA (TS)") You can then click the 'Tools' icon (Edit selected profile) and choose Video / Audio or both. If you are capturing video, don't forget to check the frame rate shown here is still whatever you decided earlier. When you click 'Start' VLC will start recording. If your cursor does not slow to a crawl, chances are VLC isn't actually recoding anything. If it does, chances are it's now impossible to do anything at all - and the only way 'stop' VLC recording is to abort the app. via Task Manager (which typically means the recording file is not properly 'closed' and is thus rendered unusable).
WARNING - during screen capture VLC will 'load' your CPU to 100% .. if you set 'too high' a frame rate, your computer will become so unresponsive that you may have no choice but to reach for the power button !
I never managed to get VLC to capture at any 'reasonable' rates on my 3 GHz dual-core PC - the best I achieved was 5 to 6 fps at 800x600 with no sound. Whilst this is sufficient to record 'basic' PowerPoint transitions ('appear') it is way too slow to capture 'fades' or 'zooms' (and, of course, will never keep up with any of your embedded videos). This is so far short of the minimum required 25fps that I abandoned the 'VLC recording' approach altogether
Video capture hardware
Whilst your CPU may lack the power to capture from the screen at 25fps using software, you may well be able to use a Hardware video capture 'device' USB 'dongle' or a PCI card. Of course, first your computer graphics adapter must have an 'analogue (composite) output' (AV or S-video socket) which few do these days, although if you are lucky you may be able to find an old PCI SVGA card that has 'composite out' or 'S video' available on an 'option' (pin header) connector
Many Graphics cards (and especially laptops) with a VGA socket come with Drivers that support the "TV-out" standard. If yours is one, you can find an adapter cable for 99p on eBay. The S-Video lead socket should give you RGB (SCART compatible), whilst the 'RCA' (AV) lead socket should give you B&W (grey scale)
WARNING - the 99p 'VGA to AV' cables are NOT CONVERTERS - they only work IF your graphics card VGA socket supports the 'TV-Out' function (few modern cards do, although most older Dell laptops did). Be especially careful if not, because some of these cables short one pin to Ground (to indicate it's presence, so a laptop 'activates' the socket) and, on a 'standard' (non TV-Out) VGA socket that pin is +5v !!! So, get it wrong and you can blow your graphics VGA output completely !!
Note that TV is INTERLACED whilst VGA is not - so whilst it's possible to build a 'simple' circuit to 'convert' 640x480 VGA to B&W (grey) AV, few 'TV / video tape digitisers' will be up to the job of capturing the result
A video capture device intended for TV (or VHS video tape recorder) capture will be limited to 720 pixels x 240 scan lines (half frame NTSC). The 'best' you can expect is one that supports 'VGA computer resolution' (i.e. 640x480), although some more specialist (= more expensive) PCI capture cards (eg from Hauppauge & ATI) can still be found that offer full SVGA (800x600) or even higher resolution capture.
If you already have the required Hardware (for example, for use in converting old VHS tapes) by all means give this a try
(C) Diverting PowerPoint rendered output to a video file
The advantage of 'diverting' PowerPoint output away from the screen is that it does not have to be done in 'real time' (so no problem with frame rate or 100% CPU loading).
Almost all the applications mentioned below use PowerPoint itself to generate the 'show' (so you will get everything that would normally be shown 'on screen').Remember - computer screens are 'square pixel', so you need at least 768x576 from a 'normal' PPT play back on a 4:3 TV (and 1024x576 from a 'widescreen' PPT for a 16:9 TV).
"Acoolsoft PPT to Video" Free Edition (recommended)
NOTE - this is the ONLY free package I have found (so far) that can generate good quality straight 'out of the box'
The Free Edition will convert the first 5 slides of a PowerPoint .ppt. You can only convert one .ppt file 'at a time' (to convert another, you have to re-launch the app). The free version allows you to choose from various output formats offered in the 'Common Video' format list (wmv, asf, mov and mkv) at 'standard' resolutions.
Many other 'format lists' are shown, but these are all 'greyed out' (only available with the paid for version), however you can select your own format (see below) or a previously 'saved' choice from this screen. From 'Video settings' / 'Config' button, the highest resolution choices found are the NTSC aspect ratio 720x480 (2:3) and Widescreen 1280x720 (16:9). You can select the 25fps (for PAL) but 768x576 (for 4:3) is not offered 'as standard'**. The saved video will be 'square pixel' (there is no aspect ratio setting). **If you 'save as' your settings, a list of the choices (including resolutions) available for that setting can be found in C:\Program Files\Acoolsoft\PPT to Video Free\UserFormats.dat file, which can be 'modified', using a text editor, to add whatever additional resolution choices (such as 768*576, 800*600 & 1400*1050) you like, and THESE WILL BE ACTED UPON ! This, at a guess, is an oversight by the vendors - so, whatever you do, NEVER be tempted to 'version up' (or you may suddenly discover your custom high-res. profile settings are no longer 'valid'). Another possible 'oversight' is that the '5 slide limit' (see below) is applied to actual slide count and not the number of 'layers' on each slide ... For my own UserFormats.dat 'profile set' right click and 'save link as' to downloaded from here. Note that in Acoolsoft PPT to Video when you 'save as' your user settings, they are actually 'appended' (added to) the UserFormats.dat file.
If you select .wmv, you are offered wma audio, if you choose .mov (Apple QuickTime) you get AAC. Only if you select .mkv do you get the choice of AC-3 or MP3 (as well as AAC).
NOTE, however, I was unable to get it to actually record any audio at all. Since I could hear the audio whilst the PPT was running (but not see the video) I assume that the audio is never 'diverted' (this may have been due to my use of a dedicated PCI Sound Card (with S/PDIF output) - so your experience may differ) If you use eg. Audacity to record** the audio (at the same time as 'Acoolsoft PPT to Video' is saving the '5 slide' video) you may discover that Acoolsoft inserts a 1/3rd second 'gap' between music tracks. Of course, chances are you will want to use Audacity to replace the audio with a AC-3 (5.1) version anyway (as well using the 'envelope tool' to 'fade out' & 'fade in' between music tracks and 're-align' the audio to the video). ** In Audacity, don't forget to REMOVE the "Software Playthrough (Play new track whilst recording it)" option (in Edit, Preferences, Audio I/O) or you will get massive 'feedback' !
You can set the 'time between slides' which is ONLY used if your .ppt has not been built with slide timing included.
WARNING - PowerPoint will default to 'auto-advance' of 1 second. This will be much too short for anyone to read a 'completed' slide. If you have not set specific 'slide advance' timings in the individual slides, adjust the 'global' setting, in the 'Slide Show' pull down menu, Slide Transition window, 'Advance', 'Automatically after' box, set 5s (or whatever) and click 'Apply to All')
The Acoolsoft default is 6s, I set this to 10s to give my slides sufficient time to complete their animations.
Converting each set of 5 (relatively) simple slides (with bullet point text zooming animation and background zooming images) into 768x576 .wmv took between 5 and 10 mins. Whilst it is possible that the Free Ed. has been deliberately speed restricted, the presence of a 'shut down computer when all tasks completed' option box suggests not :-)
Checking the output I was amazed to discover it included all the fades / animations & transitions etc. exactly as PowerPoint would have played the presentation on screen, and at the actual 'hacked' 768x576 resolution I wanted !
I discovered in later testing (with a 'hacked' 1400x1050 setting) that Acoolsoft PPT to Video was actually getting PowerPoint to 'render' at the actual pixel counts specified !!
Why was I so amazed ? Well almost every other application runs PowerPoint at much lower resolution (typically 640x480 - or in one case 320x240 !) and then generates poorly 'interpolated' output to the resolution you 'asked for' (presumably this is so they can appear 'super fast' in 'magazine comparisons', whilst fooling the dumb reviewers into thinking they are getting 'high resolution' results)
Note that I also discovered that one rather over-complicated 'multi-layered' slide was 'played' perfectly OK, whilst only being 'counted' as 1 slide !
So, if you wanted to 'get around' the 5 slide 'trial' limit, you could (in theory) build your entire PowerPoint presentation into a 'single' slide by 'layering' :-)
Temp files are created in your chosen output folder - these consist of a 'Videolayout.bmp' (which contained nothing but 'black' = my ppt slide background colour scheme) and a 'video.tmp.asf' (a type of Windows Movie Format used for 'File transfer stream' according to WMM (which refused to 'play' it, as did VLC)). These files are automatically deleted when conversion is finished.
Whilst it may be possible to 'capture' the intermediate files, there really is no point - the final output is free of any 'watermarks' and is encoded at the resolution you requested at perfectly good quality
If your presentations are small enough to be 'broken up' into sets of 5 slides, without doubt this application is the best possible choice = it's the only 'free' one I have found that both 'does the job' and generates decent quality.
It's easy enough to 'chop up' a small presentation (up to about 25 slides, before it becomes too tedious) and generate '5 slide set' movies. Since no 'watermark' or 'logo' is added to the movie, you can just string all the '5 slide' movies together in Windows Movie Maker.
Note. If you also install the Free Trial of the 'Pro' version, you can use that to obtain the correct timing for Audacity to record the audio track of the entire presentation (see below) in one run (rather than try to split the audio yourself at the end of each 5th slide)
"Acoolsoft PPT to Video" Pro version 'Free Trial'
The 'trial' of the Pro version places a 'watermark' on the output but is otherwise 'fully functional' i.e it will process all the slides in your PPT, so you can check if it's actually going to work as expected before buying.
As expected, the 'standard' output has exactly the same restricted resolution 'problems' as the Free Ed i.e. it has 720x480 but no 768 or 720 x576 - however, just like the Free Ed., the Pro (trial) will accept 768x576 (or any other resolution) you add by using a Text Editor on the UserFormats.dat file
The Pro (trial) also offers 'HD' output = 1440x1080 (which is 4:3 ! i.e only 'OK' for 16:9 HD if your included photo's and movie clips are 133% height pre-distorted) or 1920x1080 (which is correct for 16:9 HD) so, if you want to avoid 'hacking' the .dat file, you can select 1440x1080 + .avi and then use another package to 'down-convert' that to 720x576 for a PAL DVD
The big advantage of the Pro (trial) is that it will run through the entire PPT with exactly the same timing as the Free Ed. ! So whilst it may add a 'watermark' to the video, you can use Audacity to record all the audio in one 'run'. After splitting your PPT into 'sets' of 5 slides (max) each, you can then use the Free Ed. to convert each 'set' into a separate clip without sound. You then import all the 'clips' (and the complete audio track) into Windows Movie Maker and the 'merge' this all into a complete presentation, which you then 'export' in DV/AVI (.avi file) at 720x576 (squashed pixels) for later conversion into .mpg for a 4:3 DVD
Alternatively, if you expect to use this for more than one presentation of a dozen slides or so, just pay them the $50 !!
EffectMatrix's E.M. Free PowerPoint Video Converter V3.20.
This application comes with "high scores" and is often "recommended" in magazine 'reviews' so I decided to give it a real go. You can read all about it below or just check my conclusions and skip the evidence.
After a lot of wasted time I discovered the following :-
1) Unless you 'hack' it, no matter what output profile you choose or resolution you set, this application always runs the PowerPoint 'capture' at 320x240 (or perhaps 400x300 at most). It then 'interpolates up' to the output resolution you set but wastes time generating a massive temp AVI file. The AVI is then 'compressed' to approx 1/3rd the output bit rate you requested (effectively reducing it to garbage) but at the requested resolution. This has plainly fooled many moronic reviewers into thinking they are getting 'high quality' :-) 2) I was unable to capture any sound. Whilst it 'went through the motions' (and created a sound track file) without 'error', the output always defaulted to mono and consisted of nothing but silence. Since it 'captures' sound and video in two steps (by running the PowerPoint once for the sound and then a second time to capture the video), you can double the speed (and loose nothing) by setting audio = disabled (and letting it jump straight to the video capture). 3) The ONLY way to get sufficient quality to make a DVD is to 'hack' the wmv.prx profile into creating a massive ~temp .avi file at 1400x1050 and then prevent the app. deleting the .avi ~temp (by changing it's Properties to 'Read only' whilst the app. is busy converting it into a garbage). You can then use some other application to convert this massive ~temp file into some half-decent DVD quality output. 4) Whilst the ~temp file seems able to support the bit-rate you set, the application reduces that to between 1/3rd and 1/4 when generating the final output - for example, setting 6,000 mbs @ 620x576 got me 1,500 mbs, setting 10,000 mbs @ 1400x1050 got me 3,400 mbs - this may explain why the final output generated by the app. is always of extremely poor quality, no matter what the quality of the intermediate ~temp .avi file.
Conclusion - in this case, "well recommended" means "it does a good job of creating low resolution, low quality video suitable for viewing (but not hearing) on my iPod".
You can set the 'transition time between slides' (which it applies only if you have not already set a display time between slides in the PPT file) or you can advance the slides yourself 'interactively'.
In your ppt, if you have set some animation times (but not slide transition times), and then choose a 'transition' time in E.M. Free that is LESS THAN the total actual animation time for some slide, the resulting 'capture' will consist of 'blank screen' after it runs into that slide :-)
The .PPT capture is run twice, first to extract the audio (to a ~temp .wav file that is always placed in the 'Default output folder') and then to extract the video.
Choosing '.avi' you are offered (only) 'ms mpeg4' as the Codec**. I selected 25fps, 720x576, 4:3, '2 compression', set a Slide Transition time of 10s and fed it a 115 slide .ppt. After the first pass generated the audio ~temp .wav, it generated a '~temp' .avi video file. The temp audio (.wav) consisted of 20 minutes of silence and the temp video (.avi) was in excess of 12Gb ! It then proceeded to process this into a final .avi as per my chosen 'path/File name'.
** The ~temp video .avi file contained Huffman Lossless YUV @ 25fps, 720x576. To prevent E.M. Free deleting the ~temp file, all you have to do is change it's file 'properties' to 'read only' (you can do this after the Powerpoint 'Capture slideshow' completes and whilst E.M. is busy with the second 'converting into garbage' stage).
Examination of the final 175 Mb, 19m 31s, .avi output file showed it contained expected MS-Mpeg 4 v3 encoding with 25fps PAL 720x576 pixel size but a declared aspect ratio of 5:4 (despite my setting of 4:3) so plainly it 'knows nothing'** about DVD's. The included audio was 1 channel (MONO) mp3. The overall bit rate was 1.2 mbs (despite my setting of 3.5 mbs).
** The aspect ratio 'override' shows that, in common with almost all other such applications, E.M. knows nothing about DVD 'non-square pixels' ... in other words, it is processing into SQUARE pixels - which means you need to obtain 768x576 (not 720x576) and then process that into final DVD resolution later (eg using Windows Movie Maker etc)
On playback, the final result, to be blunt, was garbage. It showed obvious 'smoothing' and many 'jaggies' around text**. However, the animations and embedded video did actually run, and, although the embedded video flickered badly at least it didn't add a 'watermark' to that part (but still no sound). Slide transition timing also followed what I had set within the slide-show.
**I surmise that, in common with most other 'output capture' apps., PowerPoint is run 'in the background' at much reduced resolution. This means the application is up-converting from it's low 'capture' resolution into the final output resolution you requested, presumably in order to 'fool the reviewers' into thinking they have achieved 'high quality'.
To test the .ppt capture quality, I set 1024 x 768 in PowerPoint itself and in E.M. Free selected 'use original' (where possible), set 'MPG' as the output and tried again. I selected a folder on D: for the final output however it still used it's own C: '\output' folder for the audio ~temp file. I found no ~temp video file, however this may be because the application crashed with a 'Codec error', having created a 0 byte final video file in the folder I chose. The ~temp audio file was left behind, however this contained only 18m 30s of single channel (mono) silence (running the .ppt manually showed that the music did, in fact, play automatically ...).
I tried again, this time selecting the built in 'DVD PAL' profile as the output.
This time the output quality was totally unacceptable - despite a declared resolution of 720x576, it looked more like rather badly 'doubled up' 320x240 (it also adds a 'watermark', however the quality was so poor that this was almost invisible). The ~temp .avi appeared to be of slightly higher quality, but still contained the watermark. Once again, audio consisted of nothing but silence. The app. also tried to 'burn' it's garbage mpg to my DVD drive, however I 'cancelled' it at this point.
From this I concluded that the application was incapable of generating reasonable quality output, however the ~temp file seemed to show promise of better so I decided to try again but this time choosing '.avi' as the output, plus 'Original Size' and force selecting '2 channel' for the audio.
This time the ~temp (and final) .avi was found to contain 400x300 video, however, since both my 'Display Settings' and PowerPoint itself were set to 1024 x 768, this was plainly NOT the 'Original Size'. As expected, the ~temp audio consisted of 2 channel (stereo) silence and the final output .avi was the usual silent low quality rubbish.
Next I disabled 'Enable sound' (plainly the app. was incapable of recording anything) and set 1024x768 as the 'Resolution conversion' (again, the same as my native display resolution and the same as I had set within PowerPoint itself).
The ~temp avi was found to contain 1024x768, but on playback it had plainly been 'interpolated-up' from a much lower resolution. I didn't bother even looking at the final output
At this point I concluded that the 'free' version was incapable of generating any sort of reasonable quality output (expect, perhaps, for iPod's :-) ).
Whilst about to give up I found a 'wmv.prx' profile in the applications C:\Program Files folder that contained a '320x240' resolution setting, which I concluded was the PowerPoint 'capture' setting being used !
Fortunately I had a 'real' DVD resolution .prx profile I had been using in PhotoStory 3 = so I decided to 'give it a go' (by replacing the wmv.prx with my native mode DVD profile from PhotoStory 3). I also modified the resolution settings in the 'MsMpeg4.ini' file found in the /ini folder to match.
Amazingly, it 'worked' ! However the text still showed excessive 'jaggies' (in the ~temp .avi) suggesting that some sort of 'interpolation' was still going on ... ... however this gave me the confidence to make one final attempt. I decided to set both the wmv.prx and MsMpeg4.ini to my maximum native display resolution, 1400x1050.
TO MY TOTAL AMAZEMENT, the quality of the video ~temp file, whilst now almost 30Gb in size, when played in VLC, was "almost perfect" !!
The avi 'hiccuped' once near the start (it seemed to go 'back a slide' and repeat it) and none of the embedded video's played (although the first 'frame' of each was shown). The final disappointment was that, as before, the final output generated by 'E.M. Free' was only** 420Mb in size and whilst it was at the requested 1400x1050 resolution the actual quality was still unacceptable (due in part no doubt, to the 3596 kbs bit rate it used, despite the fact that I set the bit rate to 10000 kbs in both the .profile file and the UI). **Perhaps unsurprisingly, if you reduce a 30Gb AVI to a 420Mb MPEG2 (so x70 compression, to 1.4% of the original size) there is just no way to maintain the quality
Final conclusion - if you pay the price to get rid of the 'watermark' (and 'hack' the wmv.prx profile) you can get an acceptable quality ~temp .avi file. However the output from E.M. itself is always low bit-rate garbage, so you will have to use other applications both to capture the sound and convert the multi-Gb ~temp .avi into something of decent quality
Other applications I've come across
After finding one application ("Acoolsoft PPT to Video") that 'does the job' and wasting a lot of time on another (E.M. Free PowerPoint Video Converter V3.20) that does not, here is a quick run-down of some other well advertised 'PPT to Video' applications
The problem is that the 'trial', 'demo' and 'lite' versions almost never list their limitations and restrictions. You are thus forced to install the app. before discovering it is unable to 'convert' (what I consider to be) a 'normal' PowerPoint presentation (i.e. one with music, slide animations, 'decorated' text (drop shadow etc) and embedded video clips). Even when you find one that does the conversion, it often turns out to be restricted to low resolutions - or just generates unacceptable quality. Of course, the 'paid for' version MIGHT perform better ... however I have better things to spend my money on
Whilst no claim is made re: 'Open Source', this application incorporates FFMPEG, so can be considered 'freeware'. Unfortunately, like Acoolsoft PPT to Video, very few options are offered. The only resolution offered in .wmv format is the usual joke 640x480, however QuickTime (.mov), .mkv and .asf format (with 25fps) all offer 720x480 (which is '4:3' DVD NTFS i.e. should be 30fps, not 25), with .mov and .mkv also offering a 'wide-screen' 1280x720 (preDVD (square pixel) 16:9).
I started by selecting .mov, 25fps 720x480 and proceeded with the same PPT test file previously converted using Acoolsoft PPT to Video. The application then closed the desktop (Explorer) and took over my display.
Unlike other applications (that are able 'divert' Powerpoint and leave Explorer running), this app. seems to 'replace' Explorer by itself in order to grab the PowerPoint output. Unfortunately it then crashed and I was left with my blue screen background and no 'desktop' !
After restarting Explorer & aborting both the application & it's obvious Process, I was initially unable to restore the desktop. Eventually I managed to track down and abort a second process (with a more obscure name) which restored the desktop (but not the task-bar) and allowed me to close down and re-boot my computer safety.
If you want to avoid having to power-cycle your PC, avoid this (cr)app.
The advertising claims 'MPEG encoding for output DVD, Blu-ray Disc and video files' - which suggests it is capable of acceptable resolutions (even if not real Blu-ray h.264 encoding). It also says it supports animations and sounds, so this looks quite promising.
A Free Trial is available, which imposes a time limit and a watermark, however I have not yet had time to 'check it out'
Yet another 'Free Trial' that considers 640x480 'standard' resolution. Apparently supports some (unspecified) 'custom' resolutions. There is no mention of what restrictions apply to the 'free trial' and I can't be bothered wasting my time finding out.
Did not waste my time further with this
Supports an impressive list of video formats, but the free version is limited to 800 x 600 and 'Rapid Convert' (which, no doubt, is code for "no music, animations, transitions or embedded GIF/movie clips"). Apparently it converts "without Microsoft PowerPoint" = code for "your slides WILL NEVER be rendered EXACTLY as PP would render them" (and you won't discover this until you have paid for it).
The final 'nail in the coffin' is their focus on 'mobile devices' (aka 'useless low resolution results') and the fact that even the paid for versions are limited to a choice of 2 resolutions = 800 x 600 & 1920 x 1080 (plainly the suthor has never heard of standard DVD's). I did not waste my time further with this
... others (not) tested
"Moyea PPT to Video Converter".
Whilst there is a Free trial, there is no mention of the trial limitations on their web pages, so I didn't bother wasting my time finding out.
Note that Moyea offer many different 'flavours' of their PowerPoint converter. The one that seems most promising is "Moyea PowerPoint to DVD", a version of which was 'given away free' in the past and which might still be found on-line
The free version is limited to 640x480 and does not record any music or video embedded in your PPT.
Did not waste my time with this
"Xilisoft PowerPoint to Video Converter".
Does not support 'animations', so no better than using 'Alt + Print-Screen' (or Open Office Impress).
No point in testing, since it's plainly not going to do the job
"iSpring Converter Free".
This commercial software is a 'freebie' designed to 'move you up' to the paid for version. You have no choice but to install iSpring's own 'DVD burner' software (which won't actually burn anything) and their 'Media Player', both of which (you can be sure) are riddled with DRM that will be impossible to eradicate (iSpring specialises in 'multi-media training' presentations = so you can be sure they will be taking extreme measures to prevent 'their' material being 'copied').
To avoid being "DRM'd", I 'aborted' the installer of this package when it tried to take over my DVD drive by forcing their burner and movie player on me.
Yet another feature limited package designed to temp you into paying for the full version. A quick check on the web site shows that the 'Lite' won't pick up any music or video embedded in the PPT. No doubt it has resolution, watermark and other, less obvious, restrictions.
Yet another one not to waste any more time with
"The latest 'recommended' package I have just found".
First go visit the vendors web site. Find the 'FAQ' page and read for yourself what the restrictions are. If it looks promising, try to find a 'User Forum' (or check the general Movie Forums) to see what others say. If it still looks OK, install it and discover the 'hidden' restrictions that make it impossible to get actual DVD movie quality 4:3 768x576 (square pixels which you convert) or 'TV 4:3' (distorted pixels) 720x576 25fps PAL DVD industry standard mpeg2 output.
If you write and tell me the drawbacks you found and want my suggestions on how to overcome them, by all means ask. If you want me to find out what the restrictions are, sorry, I will not be answering ...
I'm not wasting any more of my time installing feature limited 'free trial' garbage that has so many restrictions that it's impossible to work out if the 'paid for' version will actually work or not. You do it, if you want to
Next page :- Video to DVD - (mpeg format)