Posted by andy on 27th April 2009
The last few weeks have had me plugging away on a side project helping out some local parents with something for their Senior-Parent party for the graduating class of 2009 at TF Riggs, my old high school. For several months, a small group of parents began putting together a slide show, as they do every year, with a slide for each student containing embarassing/cute photos of their kid as they grew up, with the final snapshot being, usually, one of their senior portraits. In the end, there is a giant presentation, several hundred meg in size, with a ton of emotional attachment, timings, and such going with it.
About 3 weeks ago, I get an email from one of these parents (the boss’s wife). The email is addressed to about 8-10 of us in the office, asking simply “Can any of you convert a PPT to a DVD?” Knowing that PowerPoint itself (on Windows) does not have an option for this, and also knowing that Office for Mac 2008 (and probably earlier versions) has a Save as QuickTime option, I grab my Mac, fire it up, and write her back, saying bring the presentation in, I’ll give it a run. This will be called “mistake number one”. Not that I offered to help these folks, but that I thought it would be this easy.
I get the machine with the PPT on it, and just grab the massive file, pop it on a flash drive, move it to the Mac, and try to open it with PowerPoint for Mac 2008. Oops, they used a special font… no worky on the Mac. Oh, and the resolution was wrong, all the photos were moved, and the text boxes were resized. In essence, I would need to re-do several hundred slides to do this. No. Dice.
Try opening in Keynote… that was worthless. Got to 84%, fail. Repeat, repeat, repeat… Gave up.
At this point, I think “Camstudio“, that freebie Camtasia ripoff. Just capture the slideshow as a movie file, burn, done. Yeah, that would have been great, but the codecs that came with it, and that I could get into Camstudio, wouldn’t keep up, and it was choppy.
Camtasia has a 30 day trial…. I was hoping that it wouldn’t be watermarked. It wasn’t thankfully! Something went right! Oh, but wait, I need to capture this on the machine with all the fonts and such on it. Which means I needed to capture this on a M285 tablet pc… with no power adapter. I have long enough on battery to run the capture once. Didn’t capture like I wanted. Got the power adapter. 4 more attempts to get the codecs like I wanted and get all the transitions smooth, but that worked fine.
Got the video file now… now to add the music they wanted. That was easy, had the files, quick storyline view, all was happy. Burn to DVD, tested it in my home DVD players. Worked great. Took it to the parent for replication. She takes it down to the replication guy… and he says it’s not finalized, and it’s not the right disc. I call BS on this one. I prove the disc works over and over. He said it doesn’t at all. Basically, he wanted me to burn it on a -R disc, not +R. The parent bitches this guy out and admits that finally. So I do that, test it, and the replication works great.
The presentation is shown at the party, and the DVD’s are handed out to all… all seems well. Until about Monday of this week. I get an email saying that one parent didn’t get their pictures in, and would we make a new DVD with their kid added. The parent making the slideshow agrees, hoping that I’ll do all this again. I did. I capture the presentation again (keep in mind that that process takes an hour or more).
I go to produce this DVD, and I notice as I’m adding the music that there are pop-ups… I have overlays on the content. Turns out this tablet PC that had all the fonts, etc… went with this gal to a conference, where they recommended some application called Jing. This app put stupid reminders all over the screen, over the PPT slide show, at random. Ruined the capture. Had to do it again, another hour burned up. But I got that done…
This morning, another parent points out a typo in the slide show on their child’s name. And would we fix it and get them a new copy… So it gets fixed, and I teach, via email, the parent making the slide show, how to capture the slide show, and tell her “just get me the .camrec file, I’ll take it from there”. She captures it, brings it to me at 4:15 today. 4:20, after I get the file and she leaves, new email… another typo, would we fix it… it never ends!
She recaptures it, and they drop off a flash drive tonight with the file, and I was able to produce it all tonight into a test file and test disc that I will drop off tomorrow for their testing and approval. Hopefully that’s the end of this saga.
Oh, and I did change some music around as one of the kids in the class I know hated the song playing during his slide. That was easy, no big deal. But I did have to reject one fix as I didn’t have the source files… apparently some baby picture was on the wrong kid. But I won’t go into the side reasons on this as it gets deep fast…
Before anyone says it in the comments, I tried Pack and Go, didn’t work.
So in the end, stupid PowerPoint for not having a export to DVD function or export to movie file. I should have made these guys buy the 50 dollar program that does this for you…