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Audio and video in PDF

From: InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

Video: Audio and video in PDF

Nothing spices up an interactive PDF like a video. And as you know, since you're in the lynda.com online training library. There's nothing as good as a movie to demonstrate techniques or get a point across visually. Fortunately, it's really easy to add a movie or a sound file to your InDesign document and then export it to PDF. Now, before I do that, I do need to mention that the best file format for a video is an H264 format, and that typically means MP4, MOV, or M4V. I typically have the most success with MP4 files.

Audio and video in PDF

Nothing spices up an interactive PDF like a video. And as you know, since you're in the lynda.com online training library. There's nothing as good as a movie to demonstrate techniques or get a point across visually. Fortunately, it's really easy to add a movie or a sound file to your InDesign document and then export it to PDF. Now, before I do that, I do need to mention that the best file format for a video is an H264 format, and that typically means MP4, MOV, or M4V. I typically have the most success with MP4 files.

When it comes to using audio, you want to use the industry standard, MP3. Also, note that movies may not work in all PDF readers. For example, on tablet PDF readers, sometimes it doesn't work, also older copies of Acrobat, like older than version 9, sometimes movies won't play. But, now that we understand that let's go ahead and put a movie inside our InDesign document. Videos act just like graphics when it comes to placing them. So I'll just go to the File menu, choose Place and then choose my mp4 file.

When I click Open InDesign loads that video onto my place cursor. And now all I have to do is click. You'll notice that InDesign first makes a frame, it has a bunch of diagonal lines in it, and then it pauses. It's pausing while it's loading the video into memory. When it's done, InDesign displays the first frame of the video which in this case is almost totally black. So it's really not interesting at all. Let's head over to the media panel so we can change that. I'll open up the Media panel here in my dock. If you don't have it in your dock, you can always find it by going to the Window menu and then choosing it out of the interactive submenu.

In the Media panel lets me play that movie up here. All I have to do that is click Play button then I can pause it again and i can actually jump forward in the movie to find different frames that i like. Once I find a frame I like, I can make it my poster. The poster image is what the video displays when it's not playing. You can choose a poster by picking from the Poster pop-up menu.

For example, you could choose None so it's just invisible until it starts playing. You could choose Standard which you really don't want to do believe me, because you'll get this really horrible looking image. Or you could choose From Current Frame. From current frame means grab the image that's up here in the Media panel and make that the poster. That's also with this little double headed arrow is by the way. I could pick a different image and then click the double headed arrow and it will show up there. Next we're going to turn on a controller, the controller let's you control the video while it's playing.

There's a bunch of controllers built into InDesign here. They all start with Skin Over. So ignore that part, and pay attention to the words afterword, For example, SkinOverPlay means just give me a play button. SkinOverAllNoCaption means give me all the controls except Not the Closed Caption button. So I get the Mute button, the Volume control, Play, Pause, and all of that stuff. Let's go ahead and choose that. Now I'm going to turn on the Show Controller on Rollover check box. I like doing that because it means whenever I put my cursor on top of the video while it's playing, I'll see the controller.

And when I move the cursor off, the controller will fade away. One more thing I want to point out about the media panel, if I go to the media panel flyout menu, I can choose PDF options. Here, I could type a description, something that's going to show up in a tool tip if I put my cursor on top of the video. I can also tell Acrobat to play the video in a floating window. So it won't play on the page, it'll actually open up a new window and play the video in it. I don't really like that option, so I'm going to just click Cancel. Oh, there are a couple of other options you could choose. For example, Play on Page Load.

That means whenever the page shows up in Acrobat, as soon as you turn to this page, the movie will start playing. I'm not going to do that right now. There's also another check box for Loop. But pay attention to the little caveat in the parenthesis except PDF. Acrobat and PDF do not support looping. You can't play the movie over and over again. I don't know why but it's just doesn't. This option is for exporting to SWF or Flash, not PDF, so I'll leave that turned off. One thing we can do to this video is apply effects to it, not effects to the video itself but to the frame, the object. For example, while it's still selected, I could open the Effects panel, and I'll just give it a drop shadow.

I could also put a stroke around it here. For example, I'll set this to a one point stroke. However, when you're formatting this object what you cannot do is put anything on top of the video or crop it in any way that's non-rectangular. For example, no rounded corner rectangles or anything like that. Also rotating. You cannot rotate it because that would make it non-rectangular. And you can try, but Acrobat will play the original movie on top of everything and it'll look really bad. Movies always play on top of objects on your page.

So the drop shadow will work because it's behind that frame. What you can do to movies, though, is scale them. This is too big right now, so I'm just going to scale this down by Cmd+Shift dragging, or Ctrl+Shift drag on windows. And I'll just move it into position. Okay, now what about audio, sound files. You can sound files to your PDFs but Acrobat always displays a controller. It's a grey area with buttons that let you control the audio, you know, play, pause and so on. Some years ago it was possible to have sound files in your PDFs that would play the music in the background, kind of an invisible sound track to your PDF.

But there's just no good reliable way to do that now. That little controller almost always shows up. We can add a sound file by going to the file menu and choosing Place, just like a graphic. And in this case I've got an MP3 file inside my exercise files folder. And I'll click Open. Then I'll click. Once again, I'm going to head over to the Media panel, because I could play this sound file inside here. I can also set it to play on page load, stop on a page turn. So, when I go to the next page, it'll turn off and loop. For some reason, PDFs can loop audio.

So, you can drive your readers crazy by playing the same sounds over and over again. You can also choose a poster like standard, but again that's going to look really dumb on your page. So I'm going to set this to none. The problem is that the controller will fill any space you give it. If you make it a little tiny frame like this, you'll get a little tiny annoying controller that's not even usable. But it shows up anyway. So I'm going to make this frame longer, so that the controller can fit into it. I'll also give it a stroke so we can see where it is on the page. Just make it a one point black stroke. Now this little area on the left with the diagonal lines is the activation area, or the trigger.

That's what I need to click on in order to start the movie. So I need to make this fill the entire space. And I'll do that by going to the Control panel and clicking on the Fill Frame Proportionally. That just fills up the frame with the control area. Okay, let's try exporting this as a PDF, and see what we get. Go to the File menu, choose Export, make sure the format is set to Interactive, and click Save. This is kind of a long document, so I'm just going to export the first page of the PDF, cause that's what I want to test. Now InDesign warns me about something. It's telling me that one of the interactive elements, in this case the movie back here, is going to be clipped in a way that PDFs cannot reproduce. Here's what's going on.

Remember that stroke I applied. Strokes by default always sit half way inside the frame and halfway outside the frame. So on screen half of the screen is cropping out part of the image, part of the video. In Design says, hey you cannot do that. Acrobat will not show that part of the stroke on that part of the video. In this case it's not a big deal so I am just going to click OK. As you can see the video is here and if I click on it, it will start playing.

When I move my cursor on top of it (MUSIC), the controller shows up. Now I could pause it, and when I move my cursor off, the controller fades away. Now for the audio, all I have to do is click and you can see (MUSIC) that really ugly controller that shows up. (MUSIC) But you know ultimately I kind a wish we could have some buttons on there that would start and stop the movie or audio.

So lets see how to make those next

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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

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David Blatner
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