Tom Howell is a PowerPoint designer and the founder of Synapsis Creative, a boutique presentation design agency. Tom started his career as a designer for multiple disciplines, and specialized in PowerPoint six years ago and has never looked back. His clients come from an array of different industries, among them are Universal Pictures, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Goldman Sachs Investment Banking and the United Nations. Tom loves the challenges and successes that are achievable in PowerPoint and lives to make presentations stand out for all the right reasons.
In this conversation, Tom discusses how much you can achieve with PowerPoint’s video export feature.
Geetesh: What do you think about PowerPoint’s Create a Video feature that lets you export an entire presentation to a video clip – are there are raves and rants you want to share?
Tom: I think the Create a Video feature is one of the most under-utilised additions to PowerPoint from 2010 onwards. Don’t get me wrong, like every tool in PowerPoint, it can be grossly misused. No one wants to see a video of 70 slides of text! But if you know from the outset what you want to create, the steps and tools available in PowerPoint help you to quickly create a storyboard and then adapt your storyboard into an animated video.
There are no professional video editing programs that allow you to create your storyboard, and then animate it! This makes the production time from storyboard approval to initial animated draft is very quick indeed. A traditional Ken Burns effect (pan and zooming images) is very easy to create and develop in PowerPoint. Add onto that how easy it is to Fly-in and Fly-out text and you’ve got a simple but very effective video already.
I started exploring the benefits by watching other videos and paying close attention to how everything was done. If you want to start, jump on YouTube and take a look at some corporate videos and ask yourself “How would I do that in PowerPoint?” It becomes about creative problem-solving. Most of the simple effects are already pre-built into PowerPoint and those that aren’t built-in can be achieved through combinations of effects at the same time.
My rants? There are two. Some of the more extreme zooms (say, for example, I want to ‘crash zoom’ into a full stop so it takes up the expanse of the whole page) won’t render very well in Slide Show mode (quite jerky) but will render perfectly in the video. This means there is a little bit of trusting yourself that you’ve done it right. The second rant? When you ‘Grow’ (I call it Zoom) an image in, it takes the image (or vector) by the visible size it is and Grows from there, which creates a pixelated effect which is visible when Growing more than 150%. The workaround is to take the image and scale it to 150% of its desired size first, then use the Shrink animation down to 66%, then Grow to 150%. This creates a perfect zoom that is high definition. I think with a lot of tools in PowerPoint, if you know exactly what you want to do, there are workarounds and patches to get what you need to be done, and once you know them, you can be unstoppable!
Geetesh: Can you share some stories about video clips you have created within PowerPoint?
Tom: Having had experience with some professional video editing suites, one of the big advantages in using PowerPoint for the simple videos is that the video is editable very easily right up until you hit the Create a Video button. For the corporate clients who pitch and need to make copy changes, this is a huge advantage.
I’ve had times where I’ve been required to create a 4-minute video in a single day. I’d got the script in the morning and within an hour, I had a rough storyboard put together with some images. Whilst this went to the client for approval, I started building the animations together. The client came back with some copy edits they needed and requested a few different images in the storyboard. I simply made the text edits (the animation wasn’t affected) and used the Change Picture feature to swap some new images in place of the ones that needed to be changed (again, the animation wasn’t affected). We pulled the video together and just after lunch we sent the first draft with full animation to the client. The client has delighted and we added a soundtrack (Insert Audio, Play Across Slides) and then finalized the video as a WMV video and send it across. The result was a very happy client, a 4-minute video with a soundtrack and a very proud PowerPoint designer!