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Audio and Video: Linking, Embedding, and REALLY embedding

January 14, 2010 1 comment

Getting video to play in a Powerpoint presentation is easy enough if you can build the presentation on the system from which you will be projecting, but if you have to transfer the file to another computer, things usually go wrong.

If you are working on a deck with audio or video and it is to be delivered in an environment with reliable high-speed internet access, the best thing to do is to store your audio and video files online and link to them from Powerpoint. So long as the computer is online, the files will play.

If you will not have or cannot count on internet access when presenting, you will have more work to do. Unfortunately, if you incorporate video or audio in a presentation that must move to another computer, the video or sound file WILL NOT WORK on the new system. Embedding the file and packaging the source files with the presentation in a folder to transfer is important, but it will not save you the trouble of having to re-insert the video or audio files into the presentation on the new system.

We don’t know why this happens and have not yet discovered a good way to prevent it. There’s no reliable way around it: You (or someone else) will have to repeat the process for every video clip and soundbyte in the presentation. If this task will be left up to someone other than yourself, you’ll want to send them fool-proof instructions for doing it.

There are two ways to incorporate movies and audio in a Powerpoint file: The easy way and the hard way. The easy way should work, but if it doesn’t the hard way will. The easy way is known as “embedding,” and the hard way is known (oddly) as “really embedding.” The major difference is that “embed”-ded videos will simply play, while “really embed”-ded files will display a control panel during playback, allowing you to pause, rewind, fast-forward, restart, or skip it.

We suggest simply embedding (the easy way) be your default. If the presenter specifically asks for playback control, give them the “real” embedding. Otherwise, it’s best to keep it simple and minimize the number of clicks necessary to get through the presentation.

In any case, here are the instructions for both methods of embedding audio and video. Remember to test each file (as well as the presentation as a whole) exhaustively: Multimedia files often fail to play when it matters most; the only way to prevent this embarrassing situation is to test them each time you make a change.

Embedding (the easy way)

Navigate to the appropriate slide.

  1. Save the presentation
  2. Click on Insert in the menu bar at the top of your screen and choose Movies and Sounds, then chooseMovie from File or Sound from File.
  3. Select the appropriate file from the new window and click OK.
  4. You must decide if the file should play automatically in the presentation or only if it is clicked.
  5. Move or resize the resulting image in any way you like.
  6. Right-click on the image and choose Edit Movie (or Sound) Object to make the file play continuously in a loop, or to have the movie play full-screen.
  7. Save the presentation.

“Really” Embedding (the hard way)

  1. Save the presentation
  2. Click on View in the menu bar at the top of your screen and choose Toolbars, then choose Control Toolbox.
  3. Click on More Controls, the hammer and wrench icon, then scroll down and click on Windows Media Player.
  4. Use the cursor to draw a box on your slide, which will contain the video or audio file and its control buttons.
  5. Right-click on the media player and choose Properties.
  6. Click on the empty box next to Custom. This will open a new window.
  7. Navigate to and then select your video and click Open.
  8. Un-check the Auto Start box.
  9. Click OK to close the properties window.
  10. Right-click on the image and choose Edit Movie (or Sound) Object to make the file play continuously in a loop, or to have the movie play full-screen.
  11. The video will now play in presentation mode and control buttons will appear.

Feel free to copy these instructions and share them with everyone else who may have to re-install the multimedia files or troubleshoot the presentation.

[Gary Reichardt]