Playing QuickTime Movies on PC PowerPoint


Not as easy as it sounds, and to be honest, not having QuickTime readily available on the PC side is very frustrating. Since there is no support for QuickTime in PC PowerPoint, you are seriously limited in the role and use of content available to the general user. Limited, that is, in the narrow sense that if you're bringing content over from the Mac and also in the wider sense, if you have a slide show to present numerous times and find performance variable.
What do I mean by 'variable performance?' Well, imagine that you've got a series of nice high quality slides and you want a rolling slideshow with specific timing and you also want to play it along to some music. Then imagine that you want the slides to start for a specific duration and then change the duration to match the music right on the beat. You want your slide changes to be accurate and what's more, you want the show to run accurately every time.
Now suppose you have a Celeron running XP and Office 2003, do you get it to run accurately every time? Not if you do something differently in your workflow over a couple of sessions, such as, for example, run a few programmes and documents before your presentation. Now your RAM may be used up - if you have a Celeron, it is a good chance you may have less than a Gig of RAM and you have to think about what you do.
Also if you want to get the images and the slides to match your timing exactly, and do so repeatedly, you are relying on PowerPoint's tracking and the PC's ability to deliver the tracking and one or both of these could be subject to conditions and circumstances.
What's a good way round this? Put your slideshow and music in a pre-fixed arrangement that is already tagged and held in check one track to another - like a video format that has a soundtrack and a video track. If you can play the movie, you get the full experience every time.
Video is a very demanding proposition even for the best computers today, whether they be Mac or PC, video, that is, when you are creating or editing or capturing or applying special effects.
Video, when you are just playing back doesn't demand too much though, particularly if you are reading from the hard disc and not from a CD.
So you could really do with movie formats in PowerPoint - it has to be mentioned here that you can use other formats like Windows Media and AVI but - and this is arguable - they're not so good as QuickTime and also, if you have the full range of content creation tools that are available to generate QuickTime movies such as Final Cut Pro, Motion and After Effects, you want to take advantage of what they have to offer.
At this point a 'PC-only' user will object that Windows Media is just as good as QuickTime and say something like: why don't you get 'Flip for Mac' which plugs into FCP etc an allows you to generate Windows media directly from the Export dialogue?
The answer to that is, 'Yes you can do that, but you'd have to pay for and download 'Flip for Mac' and there's a free way to use QuickTime which is still, in my opinion more flexible.
By the way, you can do all the necessary chicanery on a PC; you don't even have to have a Mac if you're that bothered about these things. Personally, I wouldn't want to go down that road but its there for those that want it.
What you need to do on either platform is open up QuickTime Pro. Pro is the unlocked version of the standard QuickTime player and you can buy a key to unlock it from Apple for around £20 or so! You can get 'Pro' for both Mac and PC as I said before.
Now open your movie in QuickTime Pro and go File>Save As and save a reference version of your movie. A reference version is (a) 'not self contained' version, and is just a header or pointer for the main version. Ideally these will be in the same folder and should stay together in there. When you, or someone else, clicks on the reference version, QuickTime is directed to look for the move resource in the main movie. If those resources (i.e. the main movie) are present, the whole thing plays through. If, however, someone has moved the main movie, you will get an error message in the way that a referenced picture in a web page will produce a missing file warning on screen if it is moved from its expected location.
A reference movie will be many times smaller that the original movie so there is no real worries about disc space.
Now, this step of playing from a reference movie is an advantage in itself for the PC platform, as many PCs will 'choke' on a high quality QuickTime movie but will play well from a referenced movie file.
You can take advantage of the same trick to get PowerPoint to play QuickTime:
You will need QuickTime installed on your PC - not the Pro version just the freebie that comes with iTunes etc and is available from the Apple web site.
Make a folder with your main movie it, and then go 'File>Save As...' as above to make a referenced version. If your first movie is '01.mov' call the reference one '01a.mov'. You should do this or something similar as a common rule so that when in PowerPoint, you immediately know which one to import into your presentation.
Now open the dreaded MS PowerPoint and create a new blank slide.
The first thing to do is to go to the 'View>Tool bars. Control' toolbox and then click on the little icon of a hammer in the bottom right of this palette.
Clicking the hammer button described above produces a second dialogue box, all you want with this one is the 'Custom' settings button which is defined by three dots (...)
This button shows a drop down menu with a number of different objects which you can insert into the presentation, from this list select the 'Apple 2.0 controller'.
Once you do this, your cursor changes to 'cross hairs' and you can draw a box - which will be invisible apart from white circular handles. Now right-click on this and choose 'Properties' from the pop up menu.
Now you are faced with a new dialogue box in which you can actually pick the specific QuickTime file you want to insert - I never said it would be short and snappy.
Choose the reference file and click 'O.K'
Leave the controller setting and you will return to your presentation. The only things to bear in mind from here are that:
Every time you open up this presentation, it will probably warn you about running an Active X plug-in - just click 'O.K', its not going to kill you after all. Also, you will find that the first time, performance is sluggish when you open the presentation, give it a second and then it will run fine for this session.
Don't forget that, as ever, the movie is hard-coded tot eh presentation, that is to say, it has an absolute path rather than a relative one. What this means is that it will read the path for including the movie as being from 'C:Documents and SettingsUsernameDesktopFoldernamemovie.mov' or 'Macintosh HD: Users: Username: Desktop: Foldername: Moviename.mov' rather than '/foldername/moviename.mov' for example.
If you plan to use your presentation on another computer, make sure you re-insert the movie as above, or place the presentation in exactly the same position relative to the system so that, for example, you have an account named in exactly the same way on the new computer as the one in which you made the presentation, otherwise it won't work.
Finally, when you play the movie in the presentation, you have to click on it once on screen to put focus on it, then you can use the spacebar to play and pause but if you then want to go on to the next slide, you will have to double click the surrounding background space of the presentation.
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