I spend a lot of my time editing recorded conference presentation videos, whether they're from smaller scale meetups or higher level conferences they've all left me with a small niggle... presentation slides.
Recently I've started requesting copies of presentations from speakers after their talk, this way I can insert the slides inline with with video. I can display them full screen, or do nifty Picture-in-Picture animations. Syncing the relevant slides up with a recorded presentation can sometimes be a hassle but it's worth it, the final product looks infinitely better than a zoomed out wide shot that shows a speaker and their slide in the same frame. The only niggle that I have is that there isn't (yet) a set of standardised guidelines for producing presentation slides for the age of recorded talks.
Before I start picking apart presentations and explaining the reasoning behind the suggestions in my guide I'd like to take the time to explain that there are two main methods of having inline presentations with talk videos. The first method (my preferred) is to take a screen recording from the presentation computer, whether through screencapture software or an external video recorder, allows you to capture everything exactly as it happened during the presentation, allowing you to cut between the speaker and the screen recording in post production. The second method (which is used when the first isn't possible) is to request copies of the presentation files in a PDF format, to convert to static images, to be inserted at the right time in the presentation video. Both of these methods work incredibly well, both have their pros and cons. The first method is technologically challenging, the second method isn't as accurate as the first, it's usually up to the video producer which one they use.
Aspect Ratio and Slide Size
Most laptop monitors have been widescreen for approaching a good 10 years. Apple introduced the first consumer widescreen laptop, the PowerBook G4, in 2001. In fact you'd be hard pressed these days to find a device, whether it's a laptop, computer monitor, television, projector or tablet (save for the iPad) without a widescreen display. HD video, by definition, is widescreen it's 1920 x 1080 pixels at its highest resolution, which follows the standard 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen video content.
With all of the above in mind it perplexes me that the majority of slides that I'm handed are in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Part of me blames Microsoft's PowerPoint for this, with the initial settings defaulting to creating 4:3 slides. PowerPoint is still the dominant presentation creation tool, most users don't tend to give more than a passing thought to the size and aspect ratio of their presentations, but it matters hugely when creating slides for a talk you know is going to be filmed.
When you insert a 4:3 slide into a 16:9 video you're faced with two display options. Either you could adopt the "pan and scan" method and enlarge the 4:3 slide so that the edges are aligned with that of the video, meaning you crop the bottom and top of the image (see the example), or you "pillarbox" the video. Pillarboxing is where two black pillars, either side of the centred slide, appear. Neither of these options are great solutions.
When designing your slides for a talk that's being recorded ensure that they're the same size and ratio as 1080p HD video, which is 1920 x 1080 pixels (16:9).
There are plenty of apps that allow speakers to create presentations, PowerPoint and Keynote being the two main options, however there's an increasing amount of presentations being generated in web apps, like Prezi, or by developers and their own web tools.
Most speakers will be aware of the issues that are surrounded by using custom fonts. PowerPoint tries to circumvent this by allowing you to 'embed' the font in the .pptx file it generates, but this doesn't always work (due to font licensing restrictions). The problem is you spend ages creating a gorgeous presentation, using some snazzy font that you love, but when it comes to giving the presentation, the computer you're being told to use by the venue doesn't have your font installed and has tried to substitute it and it looks horrible. The same issues occur when you give a video producer your slides to insert into a presentation video in post production, they won't always have the same fonts.
My advice for speakers and conference producers, who are having slides digitally inserted in their filmed talks in post production, is to supply whomever is producing your videos with a PDF export of your presentation. PowerPoint and Keynote both support exporting to PDF and this way you can ensure your custom fonts are rendered properly. The downside to this is that animations and transitions will be left out.
Tools like Prezi and custom web apps present their own problems, it's very hard to generate a still image from them. Prezi doesn't allow you to export your slides to any other format and a custom web app is essentially a Chrome window. The best method for a video producer around this is to screenshot every single slide and save it as an image. Of course this is a very cumbersome task, especially if someone has 50 slides in a deck, so it's not exactly ideal.
The issues with file formats can be circumvented by either taking a screen recording from the presentation computer, or a live feed from the projector to an external recorder. If this isn't an option and you're having slides inserted in post, make sure that your speakers provide your video team with PDF versions of their presentation. It's very easy for a video producer to convert PDF presentations to still images for use in a video editing tool.
Animations, Transitions and Videos
You can create snazzy looking presentations with all kinds of weird, wonderful and tacky animations and transitions, however when it boils down to it all of those crazy features become a little bit useless when your slides are later converted for use in video (unless a direct recording, or live feed, of your presentation screen is being taken).
The problem stems from video editing applications not being able to read presentation files. Most likely your presentation will be converted into static image files and then either faded in on-top of your presentation video, at the right time, or used for picture-in-picture views.
If it's imperitive to your presentation that you have moving elements, perhaps you're live coding or it's an interative presentation, then record your screen and make sure you give that file to the video producer who's filming your talk.
Screen recordings should ideally be in the 16:9 aspect ratio, at 1920 x 1080 pixels, and at 25 frames per second (if in the UK) or 29.97 frames per second (if in the US), consult with your video producer before your presentation to find out which formats they specifically want.
If you've got a video in your presentation, please make sure you give it to your video producer so that they can include it in the final rendered video.
So to sum it all up, here's a simple checklist on creating presentations that are video friendly.
- 16:9 slide aspect ratio, preferable 1920 x 1080 pixels in size.
- Keep slides simple and relevant, don't overload them. Remember that people are probably watching them in a small YouTube window.
If you're giving the slides to your video producer to insert alongside your filmed talk in post:
- PDF file format.
- Supply any videos.
- Try to avoid using Prezi or custom web apps.
- Ensure that your slides work well as still images and don't rely heavily on animations and transitions.
As always, if you require any help with filming presentations or live streaming them, perhaps you even want me to do it for you. Please feel free to get in touch!