Sunday, December 9, 2007

Parable in PowerPoint and Publishing to the Web

I have recently been doing some work on the 10 Bridesmaids parable in Matthew 25.1-13. To tell the story, I wanted to use PowerPoint and some simple illustration, but I also wanted to do so free of any copyright issues. So, in addition to using my own translation, I created all the graphics from scratch using an old Serif DrawPlus program. (More info here.) After creating the PPT with all the animations, I wanted to share this on the web. Here are a few examples . (Please forgive the lousy narration and background audio. I was doing this quickly and I threw together the audio using a free music program that is designed to generate copyright free midis. With more time, I would probably use something like "Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying" or "Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers." They are available with clear copyright from a site like the CyberHymnal. Since they come in MIDI, and the programs I will use require WMA or MP3, one then has to convert them using a program like JetAudio.) I tried four [

  • HERE is a version using Camtasia Studio. Its a FLV file with narration. What's nice about this one is how fast it loads. Since I basically just ran my PPT, the timings are pretty good. (A little trick: in PowerPoint, if you click on the little slideshow icon at the lower right while you are holding down the CTRL key, it will open a mini version of the slide show and allow you to still see your slides and edit them. I recorded the mini version.)
  • HERE is a version done using the free Microsoft Producer program. This is really easy to use. You import your finished slideshow and add any audio if you want it. I used music but no narration for this one, but you can do both. (BTW, you will need IE to view this, not Firefox. This one takes a while to fully load.) I didn't bother to set the timings on the slides, but that would be possible to fix, and I also didn't bother to properly name all the slides. Do note that it does preserve the animations. The program does allow for the addition of narration and video to the PPT.
  • Check out this birth of Jesus video from Zondervan which uses audio from their "The Bible Experience." Note that it is really only a bunch of pictures with the 'Ken Burns' pan/zoom effect used. This effect is accomplished using the free Microsoft PhotoStory program. As an example, HERE is one I did using my PPT slides and adding audio and narration.(5Mb) No animations, but it could work well for some PPTs.
  • Another really easy way to publish PowerPoints to the web is by using SlideShare. Here it is embedded. (Note that it doesn't preserve animations.)
  • BTW: Want to save one of those little videos from Google or YouTube or such? (I have had occasion to need to do so when I've been presenting somewhere without web access.) I've tried a bunch of browser plugins for video downloads, but the best way I have found is to use KeepVid. Simply enter the URL of a page with a video, and it downloads it to your computer. As always, observe proper copyright restrictions.
My point? Each of these options is basically free to do. You do have to learn a bit about how they work, but they really are geared for a popular market so that anyone can do them. With the slideshare one, it is simply a matter of uploading the PPT. No doubt there are other ways to accomplish getting PPT to the web (e.g., Impatica for PowerPoint, but it costs $500), but for the educator who only does something like this on a very occasional basis, these are viable alternatives. If you have other or better options, I'd love to hear from you.

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