Today a colleague of mine emailed me with a question about using Flip camera footage in a PowerPoint 2007 presentation. He was attempting to use the raw video files from his camera in a presentation but couldn’t get them to work.
PowerPoint 2007 allows users to import the following video file formats: .asf, .avi, .mpg or .mpeg, and .wmv. Since the Flip camera produces an uncompressed .avi file, we should be able to import it. Right?
Wrong. The fact is that even if your video file has the correct file extension, it may not play correctly if the correct version of the codec is not installed on your computer, or if the file is not encoded in a format that is recognized by your version of Windows.
The Flip camera captures video in MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile format and saves the video as an .avi file. So, then, perhaps we just need to download a codec and then it will work in PowerPoint?
No, wrong again. The Flip camera video uses the 3iVX codec. It can be downloaded free from a number of different sites on the Internet, and it is also included when you download and install the Flip camera software. But, even after installing the 3iVX codec, it isn’t possible to insert Flip camera clips into a PowerPoint 2007 presentation.
Why is this? Well, even though it has the right filename extension now, and the needed codec has been installed, it is still not compatible with PowerPoint 2007. Most people don’t realize that PowerPoint uses its own proprietary player called the MCI Player (which is not the same as Windows Media Player). So even if you have the correct codec that is needed for playback of the video file on Windows Media Player, this codec must also be compatible with the MCI player that is used in PowerPoint, and currently the 3iVX codec is not. (I find that integrating video into a multimedia project is a lot like playing with a Rubic’s Cube; you’ve got to hold your tongue just right and get every square lined up!)
So now we understand why the Flip Camera videos are not compatible with PowerPoint 2007, so the next logical question is “What can we do to make them compatible?” The easiest way to use Flip Camera clips in a PowerPoint presentation is to convert them to Windows Media Video (.wmv) and then insert them into a presentation.
While there are a number of different video converters available on the Internet, I like the software called Prism Video Converter. It is free and there is a version available for both the Mac and Windows Operating System. It has an easy-to-use interface, and it will support most popular file formats, including DVD files. In addition, it includes a batch converter, so you can convert multiple files with one click of a button. NCH provides this software for free in hopes that people will upgrade to Prism Plus, their higher-end, full-featured conversion application. To download this free application, go to the Prism Video Converter website and scroll to the bottom of the screen. Click on the appropriate link to download the Video Converter for either Windows or Mac. Once the download is complete, run the file “prismsetup.exe” to install. After the application has been installed, follow these directions to convert your Flip video file(s) into a format that is compatible with PowerPoint:
- Open the Prism Video Converter.
- Press and drag the file(s) you want to convert into the List of Files to Convert section of the dialog box.
- Set the Output folder, so that you will know where the converted file(s) will be placed. (Use the Browse button to navigate to the desired location.)
- Click the drop-down arrow on the far right side of the Output Format field and click on .wmv.
- You may change other output settings by clicking on the Encoder Options button or the Edit Output button, but the default settings will work fine for most PowerPoint projects.
- Click on the Convert button in the bottom right corner of the window.
- The Saving Video File dialog box will appear and the green bar will indicate the progress of the conversion. When it is finished, the dialog box closes and the new converted video will be ready to insert into PowerPoint.
Now you are ready to insert the video into the PowerPoint presentation.
- Open your PowerPoint presentation, and select the slide where you want the video clip to be located.
- Click on the Insert tab on the Ribbon.
- In the Media Clips group, click on the Movie button. The Insert Movie dialog box will open.
- Navigate to the converted video clip and double-click. A new dialog box will appear asking if you want to play the video automatically or when clicked. Choose whichever option you prefer. The dialog box will close and you will see the first screen of the video clip on the slide.
- Resize and reposition the video clip just as you would any other image. (Use the rounded corner handles to resize, so that you don’t distort the video clip. Also, it is possible to crop the video clip without affecting the way it plays.)
- To view the video, click on the Slide Show tab on the Ribbon, and then click on From Current Slide. The video will start playing automatically if you chose that option.
- If the video does not start playing automatically, click anywhere on the video and it should begin playing.
Since the new Flip cameras are becoming so popular, Microsoft may someday create a patch that will make it possible for users to use the raw footage without converting it first, but until then, this conversion method should work without a hitch!