How to convert PowerPoint to DVD for free

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PPT to DVDThis posting will outline a number of options for converting a PowerPoint presentation to DVD using all free software. There is not a single free app that will do this; however there are three “routes” illustrated below that you could take to achieve PowerPoint to DVD conversion using all free apps. Here’s a quick summary:

Notes:

  • All of the methods described here require that PowerPoint be installed on your machine.
  • While I use PPT to refer to PowerPoint files you could in fact convert any PowerPoint file extension that your version of PowerPoint supports (e.g. PPS, or PPTS, PPTM, etc. if using PowerPoint 2007).
  • It took a while to research and write this post so if you like this post please Digg or Stumble it.

I am going to segment the process of converting a PowerPoint file into 2 parts: (1) capturing the visual part of the presentation, and (2) packaging it into a DVD.


PART ONE: capturing the “visual” part of the presentation.

There are a number of ways to do this using the following free programs:
The free version of this program will convert your PowerPoint presentation into a video file, and can output to a good variety of video formats (e.g. WMV, AVI, MPG; it can even output to BMP images).
The program works by “virtually” opening your presentation using PowerPoint, and recording the output to video. This program will let you specify (a) the size of the desired output video from a good number of options; (b) whether you want an auto transition between slides or the option to manually go through the presentation and record; and (c) if auto transition, how many seconds to display each slide. It will also let you specify an audio file to use with your video or if recording your presentation manually will also allow you to alternately record an audio/commentary track using a microphone (note: this function is actually available inside PowerPoint). More notes:

 

  • Experiment first to see if everything works out as you want it to; note that in testing this application I have encountered instances where a visual element in the original presentation is incorrectly placed in the output video.
  • This program installs a media player and DVD burner in the program directory, and these cannot be uninstalled seperately. The DVD burner component, moreover, requires VOB or MPG files as inputs to author a DVD, but refused to burn my resulting presentations when I converted them to MPG.
  • Burning to DVD: see “DVD Flick” in “Part2 below – Packaging the presentation to DVD”.

iSpring Screenshot 2. PPT to SWF: iSpring Converter Free . This is a powerful free PowerPoint extension that can convert PowerPoint files to flash (SWF) files. Some notes on this one:

  • Output: the resulting SWF file when I tested this program was 720×526 in resolution ; it did not offer me any resize options. iSpring will preserve all animations, transition effects, sounds, and videos that may be in the PPT file but will not capture any rehearsed narration that may have been saved into the PPT file (this is available in the paid version only).
  • HTML/Player: iSpring will also generate an HTML page that incorporates a player to play the converted SWF within your browser (or, alternately, uploaded and played from a web site).
  • iSpring Screenshot - auto Settings / auto play: if you plan to eventually convert your SWF to a video file (AVI) in an automated fashion using a SWF to video converter, in the “Publish” settings, make sure to check “change all slides automatically” and “auto-play on-click animations”. This will ensure that your resulting SWF file plays continuously and does not wait for user input to advance (and therefore behaves like a video rather than being interactive).
  • iSpring Screenshot - manual Settings / manual play: if you plan to convert your SWF to a video file (AVI) using a screen recording program and would like to set the pace/speed of the presentation manually, uncheck “change all slides automatically” and “auto-play on-click animations”. This will give you on-click control over animation events and slide transitions.
  • If you’ve not sure what I mean by the “settings” above, see the “SWF to AVI” sections (2a) and (2b) in Part 2 below.

PowerPoint Image Copier Screenshot 3. PPT to JPG: PowerPoint Image Copier . This little free gem will process a PowerPoint file and output each slide and/or animation event as a series of JPG’s.

So, for example, a slide with 2 animation events (say click: get a bullet point, and then click: a chart flies in) will output 3 jpg’s with PowerPoint Image Copier (the initial slide with just the title, the slide with the bullet point displayed, and the slide with the bullet point and chart together).

This program is a small, no-install program that is able to capture all of the visual content of a PowerPoint presentation as distinct JPG images; on the other hand it will not capture any animations or transitions that may have been used and certainly not any sound or narration.

PowerPoint Image Copier works in a rather quirky way: it will open your PowerPoint presentation using PowerPoint in full-screen mode and then proceed to scroll through all the slides and events and take snapshots of them. However, any on-screen events that may occur during this process will also be captured (for example your IM client window suddenly popping up on-screen, etc.) – so make sure to have a controlled environment where nothing else is going to interrupt the on-screen activity.


Part TWO: packaging the presentation to DVD.

This section will discuss how to burn your resulting video file, your SWF file, or JPEGs to DVDs that can be played on any standalone DVD player. DVD Flick Screenshot

1. AVI to DVD: DVD Flick DVD Flick is a free DVD authoring program that can use videos from a wide variety of formats as input and burn DVDs that will run on any DVD player, Once you have your PowerPoint file converted to video you can use any of a great many freeware programs to author a DVD, but DVD Flick is my favorite. Some notes:
  • Ease of use: this program is extremely easy to use; all you have to do is add your converted videos (accepts many formats), title your project, and change any settings that you want (including picking a display template for the main menu, see below). Note that the program will use the names of the files you use as titles for the eventual videos on your DVD, so you might want to rename these appropriately before adding them to DVD Flick.
  • DVD Flick - converted PPT files on DVD Templates: offers a number of pre-existing templates that you can use for your projects that will instantly give your presentations a professional look (see an example in the screenshot to the right). I will not write much more about this program here since my link above points to a full review that of that program.
  • HD space requirement: might require a great many gigs of free space on your hard drive to do it’s thing.

CamStudio Screenshot - recording from SWF 2a. SWF to AVI: CamStudio, Debut Video Recorder, Speedy Video Capture (portable). These are free screen recording programs that will capture any screen activity and record any sound input coming through the mic jack.

Any of these programs will allow you plug in a microphone, hone in on a part of the screen and play the SWF that you got using your browser or your media player and advance through the presentation in real-time, recording your narration as you go along. (Note that you do not have to add narration if you prefer not to).

I would strongly recommend using a screen capture program (a) if you want a “human” element to your PowerPoint video where the slides aren’t just advancing robotically at a fixed pace, and/or (b) if you want to add narration. If you do want to go manually go through your presentation and record it make sure that your generated SWF allows you to do so manually (see settings/manual play in the iSpring section above).

Lastly, you might ask: if I were going to do screen recording why bother with the SWF at all, why not just do it straight out of PowerPoint? The answer to that question is that PowerPoint will run presentations full-screen only, which makes capturing rather unwieldy and complicated and will result in output files with enormous sizes. Playing and recording the SWF file is much more practical. Other notes:

  • Make sure to create a controlled environment where unwanted on-screen activity such as email/IM notifications or anything else are not going to occur. Also be mindful where you place your mouse.
  • If you do not want audio you can switch it off using the screen recording program.
  • It doesn’t matter which codecs you use to encode, since the DVD authoring program will re-encode anyway. If in doubt download, install, and use CamStudio lossless codec from the CamStudio page or Xvid (or even go with uncompressed, although that will take a good chunk of disk space depending on the length and size of your presentations).

Finally, to put your AVI’s on DVD I recommend DVD Flick. See the AVI to DVD / DVD Flick section above.

SWF2AVI screenshot 2a. SWF to AVI: SWF2AVI SWF2AVI is a little freeware tool that converts SWF files to AVI or bitmap-sequences (bmp, jpg).

It is a rather capable little app but it does NOT support sound, so if sound is an important component of your presentation you might want to use the screen recording options described in 2b above Converting SWF to AVI turned out to be more involved than I thought. I initially turned to SUPER, which is one of the most powerful freeware video conversion programs that supports SWF to AVI, but for some reason that did not work out for the SWF I got with iSpring. I found a couple of others but SWF2AVI was the best in terms of getting results. Here’s a quick overview of how to perform a SWF to AVI conversion:

  • Find the SWF file from iSpring.
  • Download Swifty Compress and Decompress. You need this app to decompress the SWF file. Unzip the archive and drag and drop your SWF file onto the “swfdecomp.exe” icon. Your SWF file size will increase, and that is all you will see.
  • Load your SWF file in SWF2AVI. If it works, you’re done – ready for the last step, DVD authoring. If you get an error message, however, read on.
  • From the extras menu, choose “Auto Wrap Move (build container movie) and point to your SWF file. When it asks “How many frames do you want to convert” enter a very high value, such as 9999.
  • Go to Extras then preferences and make sure BMP is checked (not JPG).
  • SWF2AVI screenshot - stop proessNext go back to SWF2AVI and open the new container movie. This will begin the process of extracting the SWF file into a bitmap sequence. Important: monitor the conversion process and once it gets to the end click on “stop process”. If you don’t do this the process will go on for very very long time with the last frame of your SWF being copied over and over.
  • Go to Extras/Convert Image sequence to AVI. The images you want to add should be in the same folder as your SWF file. Make sure list of files is sequential (click ‘Sort File List’). Note the frames per second; experiment with this one, as entering smaller values creates a slower, longer AVI.
  • Click “Write AVI”, select a codec from the dropdown (or choose Full Frames Uncompressed), aand click ok. Your AVI format video will now be created in the original SWF directory.

More Notes:

DVD Slideshow GUI screenshot 3. JPG to DVD: DVD Slideshow GUI DVD Slideshow GUI is a free tool that can create sophisticated slideshows out of groups of images. It can add text, animations, audio, and transition effects to images and burn the resulting slideshow to a DVD that will play on any standalone player.

If you used “PowerPoint Image Copier” above to grab your PowerPoint slides and convert them to images, you can use DVD Slideshow GUI to add any display effects and burn to DVD. Some notes:

  • Can be used in a simple way to dump your converted PowerPoint slides into and burn, or otherwise you can give each slide individualized attention (duration, effects, etc)
  • Has a handy preview function to display the slideshow before burning to DVD.
  • If you don’t like the default background and would prefer simply a black one (like I do), you can change it in the project settings. You can also remove the so-called “safe area”.
  • Once you are satisfied with your slides one click will get the slideshow burned to DVD for you.