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The multimedia universe has dozens of file types for video and sound. PowerPoint 2010 can import the most common file types. Let's take a look at the types of movie files PowerPoint renders and explore some of the considerations when choosing between them. First, let's take a moment to explain two terms: file format and codec. The file format is the file type of video editing program exports. You can tell the file format by the extension at the end of the file name. A codec is the program used to encode, compress, and decompress the digital data.
Video clip quality is measured either in fps, frames per second, or kbps, kilobits per second. For fps, 15 frames per second is low quality and HD comes in at 60 fps. In kbps, 380 is the minimum for decent audio and 2100 kbps is high quality. This isn't oversimplification, however. Because of the complexity of working with audio visual, it's possible to make a small video look fantastic at only 500 kbps if you use the right codec.
In PowerPoint 2010, DirectShow renders the media right inside the program providing for speed and smooth graphics. Windows Media Player is the digital media application for audio, video, and images on computers running Windows, Pocket PC, and Windows Mobile. If your presentation contains media that was inserted in PowerPoint 2007 and has not yet been converted to 2010, Windows Media Player will process the media for your PowerPoint presentation instead. If you will be sharing your file with someone using a Macintosh, then you can download a free WMV Player from flip4mac.com.
Here are the file formats PowerPoint will show natively. A Windows Media Video file or WMV is the default file format you'll come across on your PC. It's recognized by all Windows applications because it's a native Microsoft format. This file format compresses audio and video by using the Windows Media Video codec, a tightly compressed format that requires a minimal amount of storage space on your computer's hard disk. If you create movies using Windows Movie Maker, which used to come on all PCs but you do have to download it for Windows7, it will save in this file format by default.
Audio Video Interleave or AVI is another common Windows video file format. This is a multimedia file format for storing sound and moving pictures in Microsoft Resource Interchange File Format or RIFF. It is one of the most universal formats because audio or video content that's compressed with a wide variety of codecs can't be stored in an AVI file. If you'll be sharing your PowerPoint file on a Macintosh however, you may need to install an AVI video handler. Advanced Streaming Format or ASF is another common Windows media file type that was originally designed for use with Windows Media Encoder and Streaming Server.
This file format stores synchronized multimedia data and can be used to stream audio and video content, images, and script commands over a network. The Moving Picture Experts Group has a movie file format called mpeg or MPEG. This is an evolving set of standards for video and audio compression. This file format was designed specifically for use with video CDs and DVDs. MP3 is famous of course as a digital audio file format and MP4 now has become a standard for video used online and across the platforms.
Almost every music device now supports this format. You can easily use an MP4 container with an H.264 codec on a new computer and it will play on almost all computers. MPEG also supports subtitles. Flash Video has the extension SWF, FLV, and F4V. Adobe Flash Media is generally used to deliver video, an interactive graphics over the Internet using Adobe Flash Player. Note that some mobile devices do not currently support Flash files, so many viewers may see a broken image instead of your Flash content.
Apple's QuickTime formats include MOV and QT. QuickTime will also produce MP4 files. There are a few more obscure file types as well, including M2TSV used in broadcast systems and Blu-ray. Now let's do a little troubleshooting. Video compatibility can occasionally be quite problematic. Is your video not playing properly, even though it has the same file extension as one I listed earlier? The correct version of the codec may not be installed on your computer. You can download more recent codec files from Microsoft's website.
You may also download open source viewers like VLC that support Mac, Windows, and Linux and we'll also install some missing open source codecs. Next, as of the recording of this video, embedding Adobe Flash Video only works in 32-bit installations of Microsoft Office and Windows, but 64-bit compatibility will be available in the future. QuickTime files may not run automatically on your computer. If your QuickTime files don't run, download QuickTime for Windows first. It's a good idea to install QuickTime for Windows anyway, so that you can be confident that your video files will work on a Mac.
If you'll be giving your PowerPoint presentation on another computer, you may want to convert your QuickTime file formats to WMV just to be safe. But this issue only crops up on older machines. If you're sharing files with the person running PowerPoint 2007, SWF, MOV and MP4 movies won't work at all. You can use Microsoft Windows Media Encoder, a free program, to convert these programs to WMV so that they are compatible with PowerPoint 2007, and if you have video on a different format than the ones I've listed, you can use several third-party programs to convert your video files to the Windows Media Video file format, WMV.
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder or the new Expression Encoder is designed to integrate with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products. Find it at www.microsoft.com. PFCMedia is a PowerPoint add-in that automates the formatting of multimedia. For more information, visit www.playsforcertain.com. HandBrake is great software for converting MP4s and it works seamlessly with VLC, the codec player software mentioned earlier. You can find it at www.handbreak.fr.
Another great Windows conversion tool for all formats is Super C at erightsoft.com/S6KG1.html. While PowerPoint has evolved to include the most common video formats, there are dozens more that it cannot manage natively, but all you have to do is convert your movies to one of the common file types and your visuals will work seamlessly.
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