Need PowerPoint advice

JackW wrote on 2/10/2014, 5:28 PM
We recently completed a project which involved 11 hours of video we shot and 300 PowerPoint slides. After a great deal of trial and error the eleven files that resulted from this were put onto a password protected Vimeo account. Many on this Forum were very helpful in guiding me through this process, for which I thank you all.

We're about to do this all over again: 11 hours of video and heaven knows how many PowerPoint slides. The difference this time around is that we will have some(limited) input regarding the design of the slides before they are finalized.

Do any of you have experience with using PowerPoint material in your videos? If so, has your experience led you to conclusions regarding what will look best when combined with video? Our client has asked questions regarding background color, font and font size, etc. He is adamant about using PowerPoint so talking him out of that is not an option.

Any information or suggestions will be a big help.



Steve Mann wrote on 2/10/2014, 8:38 PM
First, remember that PowerPoint was developed last century and belongs there.

If the PPT has animation, PPT animation looks cheesy, I know of no way to capture it in a video other than a screen capture program like Camtasia, Snagit or FBMN Software. If you can convince them to not use animation on or between the slides your job will be much easier.

Avoid fine lines. If you have a line between boxes, for example, make it fat.

Avoid saturated colors, like 255,0,0 for red.

Avoid seriffed fonts, like Times. Use something simple like Ariel.

One trick I've learned is to use a spare camera to record the slide show. You won't use this footage in your final product, but when you synch it to the presenter camera, you will have an accurate cue to what slide the presenter is talking about. This way when the presenter is talking about a slide, you can cut to the JPEG of the slide while he makes his point then back to the presenter. It makes for a nice flow.

Singular Software Presto does a good job of putting the slides and the presenter on the screen at the same time. But my clients haven't liked it.
JackW wrote on 2/10/2014, 10:58 PM
Thanks for the quick reply, Steve. Good advice regarding fonts and colors. Actually the current version of PowerPoint exports all the slides as JPG files.

We've used the 2 camera system for years, using one to capture the slide presentation for reference purposes only. Saves lots of guesswork.

I'll take a look at Presto to see if that's a possibility. I've seen similar software used in some high-end medical DVDs and at times it looks pretty good. It may appeal to our client.

musicvid10 wrote on 2/10/2014, 11:28 PM
Remember that your video delivery is going to be the confining factor. Meaning resolution, colorspace, and bandwidth (bitrate).
Avoid serif fonts, saturated luminance and chroma (as wisely suggested above), very fine detail, and TEST EVERY SLIDE.

I can't emphasize these points enough.
JasonATL wrote on 2/11/2014, 1:13 PM
I'll be the lone voice of dissent here regarding fonts.

To me, the question is one of "art direction." What look are you (or your client) going for? Font style and color are the primary tools you have to define a look on slides.

Serif fonts have their place. I think that the advice is well-intended, as we have all seen serif fonts get mucked up when there is a lot of text that is relatively small on the screen. This isn't the fault of the font, but of how it is used.

Slides in a presentation are supposed to be short bullet points. Too many people err by writing full paragraphs on slides. If your client does this, then the serif font issue is a very tricky one. First, serif fonts make reading a line of text easier: the fine edges lead the reader's eyes to the adjoining characters and words. This is why books, newspapers, etc. are written in serif fonts. Sans serif fonts work well for headlines, short text or short bullet points. Not that one can't be used for a different purpose - those are just generalities. Second, serif fonts work fine in video when they are large. So, full paragraphs written on slides are problematic because they call for serif fonts (to ease the reading of a long passage), but must be small (to fit everything on the slide). The small size, with detailed edges/features, contribute to the problems with video, I think.

My rule is to keep it simple. As others have suggested, a simple color scheme and font scheme (one or two fonts).

The color scheme might depend on how the slides will be mixed with live action. I suggest trying for a white or black background. Depending on what you'll do with the slides, this will allow for animations, since you can put a white or black background on a track below the slides that allow the slide content to be zoomed in or out and moved around.

I also agree with the suggestion above regarding animation. Do any animation in the Vegas, not in PowerPoint.

Here's a video I did for my students (excuse the dry narration):

I link to it to illustrate the use of the white background (I was going for a white board or text on a page look) and the use of serif fonts. If there is a negative of the serif font here, I don't see it, but it might be my lack of understanding.

All of the visual content is from my PowerPoint slides. I saved them as .PNG images at a fairly high resolution. I have found Vegas to work better with PNG files than JPG. All animation is done with masks and keyframes. I used a white background so that the edges of the slides are not seen.

If I were to mix this with live action, I think it would work reasonably well, especially if the color was such that the white projected image (assuming it is seen in the live action) is the same white as the slides. This would be challenging, since the room/venue lighting temp is unlikely to match the projector's temp (usually 6500k?).

I think gradients look great on PowerPoint slides (as being nicer than a flat single color), but musicvid10's point about delivery makes gradients especially problematic, as the resolution and compression can really make gradients look terrible.
Steve Mann wrote on 2/11/2014, 7:30 PM
"Here's a video I did for my students (excuse the dry narration)"

Ferris? Ferris Buehler?

"Serif fonts have their place."
Yes, but the video screen is not one of them. The problem with Serif fonts is those darn pesky pointy things on the ends. Because of the way most compression algorithms work, the pointy things (serifs) do not render clean.
musicvid10 wrote on 2/12/2014, 12:42 AM
Totally agree.
Serif is bad on Progressive, impossible on Interlaced.
Stay away from bright colors.
In this art at least, substance wins over style.
astar wrote on 2/17/2014, 8:43 PM
I rarely use static powerpoint slides, and will often rebuild the slides in photoshop or Blender.

Here is a link to a Microsoft post, that shows how to increase the default export size from PowerPoint. This will allow for very large images to be exported, and then zoomed in on, or pan across.

JackW wrote on 2/18/2014, 12:39 AM
Thanks everyone. I appreciate the input.

Barry W. Hull wrote on 2/18/2014, 8:18 AM

Thank you, didn't realize increasing the resolution was possible. I have needed that before, big help.

Barry Hull
OldJack wrote on 2/18/2014, 6:08 PM
I converted a ppt to mpg with this software:
Catwell wrote on 2/19/2014, 4:32 PM
Have the PowerPoint made without any builds. In other words use separate slides for all changes. That way when you export to JPEG you have all the images as presented rather than a single JPEG with all the parts of the build. Also the PowerPoint transitions between slides can be replaced with your Vegas transitions. This will make it much easier to bring it onto the timeline. Otherwise you have to re-edit it in PowerPoint. PowerPoint 2010 lets you export to a video file so you can use this to move builds onto the timeline but I find it very clunky. If there are videos in the PowerPoint make sure you get the original video files and not just the ones embedded in the presentation. Older versions of PowerPoint did not allow embedding video so the files will be separate.
Jack, I am in Seattle so if you need any help I can easily coach you. I both made the PowerPoint and the videos before I retired from the Museum of Flight.
Charlie Atwell