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Adding show-length narration to a PowerPoint presentation

I recently helped one of my Corel buddies and all around good-guy, Bill Blinn. Bill was trying to put together a PowerPoint presentation that synched to recorded narration and, like everyone who tries this, was getting frustrated.

Between a bit of help from me and a healthy dose of smarts from him, he got it working. I'd cleverly extracted a promise of a writeup, and here it is:

Adding show-length narration to a PowerPoint presentation

Problem: You have a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation with 50 or so slides. You also have a recorded narration. You'd like to put these together so that the result is a single, automated show that stays in synch from beginning to end.

Solution: You ask Steve Rindsberg, who replies, "PowerPoint lacks the ability to do anything accurately to a timeline. All is relative, where your audio timing is absolute. What runs correctly on your computer probably will wander off-synch on other boxes (and may change between runs on your own computer).

"What I'd do is bust the thing up into individual slide-size sound bites (as WAV files) and use the WAVs as slide transition sounds. As long as you make sure your slides don't transition before the sound finishes, you should be good to go. IOW, synch the sound to the slide changes instead of doing it the rational, simple way.

"One little trick that might help: Use PPT's narration recording feature and tell it to LINK to sound files. That'll make a series of little files already linked in as needed. You replace those with your own sound files and it's a done deal. Handy."

Handy, indeed.

I exported the audio to MiniDisc and then ported that back to the computer and told PowerPoint to use it as I recorded the narration. And it almost worked.

Because there were several transitions with virtually no time between words, some of the resulting audio files had little "glitches" in them -- clicks, pops, dropped syllables, and the like. But that was OK.

All I had to do was go through the audio files with the Microsoft Media Player to note the file names (Why are they random?) and the in/out points on the script. With that information, cutting the sound track up into individual pieces and naming them to match the existing files was no problem.

[Steve butts in with: I don't think the files are randomly named; they get names based on the SlideID that PowerPoint assigns each slide at the time it's created. It starts with 255 and goes up from there. And unlike slide numbers, these don't change as you edit the presentation and move slides around. Once a slide is created as e.g. 288, it stays 288 forever, and as I recall, the sound file PowerPoint generates when you record narration will have Slide288 in its name. ]

I did have to make a few additional edits to keep one sound file from cutting another off near the end, but that was easy enough; and I found that the timing is a bit different in the player, so it's still not perfect. But what is?

For the next project, I now know that if I write a script to allow for brief pauses where the transitions should be, the direct recording will work.

Search terms:narration,synch,sound

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Adding show-length narration to a PowerPoint presentation
Last update 07 June, 2011