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InDesign's high-quality typography and layout tools go beyond print. In InDesign CS4: 10 Things to Know About Interactive PDFs, David Blatner explores interactive PDF files and the techniques used to add movies and sounds to them. In addition, David explains how to avoid common pitfalls and reveals some tricks for making eye-catching documents as efficiently as possible.
You can spend hours making an interactive PDF sweet to look at, but what about our other senses? Sound especially is to often overlooked in interactive documents. Now it's not hard to add sound to your PDF files, though there are a few tricks that you should know about. For example, MP3 files. You probably have lots and lots of MP3 files around your hard drive but you cannot use those with InDesign. InDesign and Acrobat do not understand the MP3 format unfortunately. So if you want to use some music in MP3 format, you have to convert it to something that InDesign can read like Wave file or AIF file.
Now I happen to have an AIF file that I want to bring into this InDesign document, so how do I do it? I go to the File menu, choose Place and just pick it right off my hard drive. There it is. It comes in almost as though we were in image or a movie. When I click on my page, it adds a new frame and places the sound into it. By default, InDesign gives that sound this poster image. It looks kind of like a spaceship or having supposed to be a speaker, but it's pretty ugly. Anyway, that poster image will show up in Acrobat whenever I open the PDF which is actually not what I want in this case. I certainly don't want this ugly in my PDF. But I don't even want anything in the PDF to be visible because I'm trying to create a background sound to your background music for this document.
So, I'm going to edit the Sound options. I can get the sounds options by going to the Object menu, going out to Interactive and then choosing Sound Options. But I'm not going to do that because really it's much faster just to double-click on the Sound. Double-click on the Sound, opens the Sound Options dialog box and here I can change the poster from Standard, which should just read ugly to None. Now it's going to be just transparent frame, you won't see anything at all. I'm also going to turn on to Play on Page Turn checkbox and when that's on as soon as Acrobat displays this page, it will start the music going.
Let's go ahead and click OK and we can see that the poster disappears. It's completely transparent and I could leave this in the middle of my page if I want to, but I'll tell you why I don't. Even though you can't see it, when it gets Acrobat if a user is moving the cursor around, the cursor will change when it's on top of that area because technically it's a button even though you can't see it. So I usually take this and I drag it down near the bottom of the page or even right off the bottom of the page a little bit and the top of that frame has to be touching the page a little bit. But you don't need to have the whole thing on the page.
So I'm going to leave it down there, just so I can see a little bit of it. Okay, let's go try it out. I'm going to go to File menu, choose Export and save this out as a PDF file. When I'm saving as PDF, I need to make sure that Interactive Elements is turned on or else I will not get that sound. InDesign will just strip it out so that's turned on, I'll click Export and it will write this whole PDF to disk and open it in Acrobat. Because there's music in this PDF, Acrobat puts up this Manage Trust for Multimedia Content dialog box alerting me that hey, there is music and watch out, it might be dangerous music, and I don't know what dangerous music would be or what it would sound like but in this case I'm just going to go ahead and trust it and click Play.
In this case I have a very short piece of music, just played for about 5 seconds there and then stopped. So I would really like it to loop over and over again. Well InDesign doesn't have any way to control looping of music but Acrobat does, so let me show you how to do that in Acrobat. I'll go to the Tools menu, choose Advance Editing and then choose the Select Object Tool. And with the Object Tool I can just barely see the outline of that little sound object down at the bottom of the screen. So I'm going to double-click on that and up comes the Multimedia Properties dialog box here in Acrobat. To change the settings for this music, I can click Edit Rendition and inside the Rendition settings dialog box I click Playback settings.
And it's here, that I can tell this music to repeat either continuously or a certain number of times. I'll just let it go Continuously for now, I'll click OK, I'll click Close and I save my document with the Command+S or Ctrl+S on Windows and now it will start playing, the next time I view this PDF. Right now it's not going to play it because remember it was set to Play on Page Turn. So the next time, I hit this page, it will start playing continuously even if I move from one page to the next. In general, I would probably import longer pieces of music like a whole song into my PDF, that's a little bit more pleasant then listening to the same thing over and over again.
But the only problem with that is that whenever I go back to this page, I might be looking through a presentation but as soon as I go back to this page that song will start playing from the beginning again. Acrobat doesn't know how to just keep playing something even when I come back to this page. Nevertheless, adding a sound track to your PDF is a great way to bump up the quality of a presentation and to make your audience really happy.
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