Slide Transitions and Build Effects

If, however, you want to simulate the slide transitions from your original presentation, now's the time to do it. Figure 6 shows the Slideshow window in DVDSP along with the Slideshow Inspector.

Figure 6

You can set a common transition for the entire show in the Inspector, or choose individual transitions for each slide in the Slideshow window. (You can also do both. The slide show default will be used whenever an individual slide has not been assigned a particular transition.) The list of available transitions is quite impressive. But don't get too wild. What might be a cute effect on the first few slides could be very annoying by the 30th. You can still choose between manual or automatic advance; the transitions do not affect navigation controls.

Build effects are a bit more limited. The best way to simulate build effects is with the Dissolve transition. But this usually means a bit more work back in the export stage. Most individual slide exports simply present the final slide--after it has been completely built--as the image. You may need to create separate slides in your presentation tool or edit the regular exported slides in Photoshop to create the intermediate steps. As with many things on computers, you can do it, but it does require more time and effort.

Importing Audio

Another major step in getting a presentation onto a DVD is handling the audio track. If you recorded a narration in PowerPoint and exported the presentation as a movie, you're set. If you did anything else, though, you have to get the audio into DVDSP and attach it to your slide show. Here again, a bit of preplanning can drastically reduce your effort.

When you go to record your narration for PowerPoint (Keynote does not yet have a narration option), choose the Link narrations option in the Record Narration dialog box (see Figure 7).

Figure 7

This will create nice, neat separate audio tracks that can be imported directly into DVDSP or dropped into A.Pack for encoding. The bad news is the filenames are linked to the internal slide ID numbers used by PowerPoint. We have found it best to leave the slide names alone and simply preview the audio in DVDSP and then drop it on the proper slide. Tedious, yes, but it leaves your presentation with the maximum flexibility.

If you don't have a narration but want to add one, you can certainly do that, too. You'll just have to venture out into some other application to record the audio. iMovie, GarageBand, Soundtrack, Logic Express, and Logic can all do the trick. And that is certainly not an exhaustive list. (But in looking it over, it is somewhat of a plug for Apple....) Record and prepare the narration clips individually if at all possible. Again, that simply affords you the most flexibility.

Advanced DVD Features

Since we're in DVD-land now, we might as well point out that you aren't limited to simple slide-plus-audio presentations on a DVD. You can get more details on these types of activities in DVD Studio Pro 3: In the Studio. But as a teaser, these three fun options come to mind:

Make a nonlinear slide show by combining end jumps and menus. You can set the End Jump property on a slide show to take you to another entry on your DVD--such as another slide show or a menu. The end jump works only when the last slide does not have a pause for manual advance, though. You can either run the entire show automatically or, if you let the user control the navigation, just throw an automatic-advance slide at the end to make sure that jump is activated. That jump can lead to a menu that asks the user to pick the next path. You could use this to create a "roll your own presentation" disc.

Use multiple video angles for enhanced presentations. If you happen to have a video recording of someone giving the presentation, you could include that as the primary video angle and put the slide show up in a secondary video track. This type of transfer obviously requires much more planning and effort, but it definitely takes advantage of the features available in DVDs. With the touch of a remote control button, anyone watching the DVD version could flip back and forth between the video of the presenter and a crisp, clean slide.

Include the actual presentation as a data file in a dual-purpose DVD/DVD-ROM. DVDs can carry both video and data. DVDSP makes including data on the disc a snap. When you're ready to burn the disc, just point at a folder where your data files are kept and they'll be copied over (see Figure 8). Of course, this is only for presentations you want to share, but you can also use this feature to include any supporting materials such as white papers or utilities that were discussed in the presentation right on the DVD.

Figure 8

Parting Thoughts

Earlier in the article we mentioned screen captures as a fail-safe way to get slides out of your presentation software. We weren't joking! We have used Ambrosia Software's Snapz Pro X to very good effect for this purpose. It names screenshots sequentially--ideal for importing to DVDSP. The movie-capable version of the software is just amazing. We have used that several times to capture complex slide animations. The captured movie is true to the original timings and looks great on DVD. Just something to consider if your other export options prove frustrating.

DVDs and presentations are a natural fit. A bit of planning is definitely in order, though. Just remember to do what you can to make your presentation graphics NTSC friendly and to keep your transitions and builds as straightforward as possible. You'll find that you get into a flow after transferring a few presentations. It always boils down to practice, eh? Now if we could just get away from having to transfer the boring presentations....