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It’s exciting times for us here on the PowerPoint Engineering Team! Whiteboard brainstorms that began three years ago are now real live features, which are fully functional and ready for a test drive in the PowerPoint 2010 Beta! As we pass this milestone, I thought it’d be fun to share the inside scoop as to how one of our features, Video Triggers, came to be…
Video Triggers is a feature with which one can mark locations in a video (i.e. set bookmarks), and then trigger animation sequences upon reaching those bookmarks on playback of the video.
While most of our features are done “by the book” (i.e. we research them, we plan them, we know from day one that they’re in the product), Video Triggers didn’t fit that mold—this feature grew organically!
At an MVP summit two years ago, I was presenting our video feature set when one of our MVPs asked whether it’d be possible to support captioning of videos. She wanted to make videos more accessible for the hearing impaired.
We didn’t have this feature.
As I shared this request with the team, we discovered that we had many of the pieces, particularly the ability to make text appear and disappear, as the Animation Team quickly noted. Meanwhile, the Multimedia Team was implementing the ability to mark locations in video by adding bookmarks. We guessed that folks would primarily want use bookmarks to quickly find locations in a video navigation scenario, especially during a slide show when there is not much time to scrub through a video to find the important parts. Early usability studies, however, showed that almost no one wanted to do this. The bookmarks feature was headed for the gallows.
Around that time, we were seeing early concepts of a template on which we collaborated with Duarte Design (check out the “Five Rules” template which ships with Beta!) One of Duarte’s rules: “help [the audience] see what you’re saying.” I remember many of us thinking: how would we apply this advice to video? We let out a collective “Aha!,” and Video Triggers was born. We would allow users to meld videos with animations.
So let’s recap: You have a user request for video captions, a bookmark feature headed for the gallows, entrance and exit effects we’ve had for ages, and an ounce of “Aha!” Would you have guessed that those are the ingredients for Video Triggers? Oh yes, and to come full circle—our accessibility team is looking at building an add-in based off Video Triggers to facilitate the video captions scenario in particular.
On behalf of the entire PowerPoint Team, we hope you’ll love the PowerPoint 2010 Beta. Please! Tell us what you think. You never know— it might be the genesis of another great feature!
Jeffrey Chen Lead Program Manager, PowerPoint Client
So Coool~ bookmark function..
Hi Jeffrey, I'm bringing our exchange over from the previous blog topic because it is more applicable here.
I did hear back from one of your staff. The essence of the response I received was: a) We are aware that we are not able to seamlessly loop videos, but this won't be addressed any time soon. Maybe a later version.
b) Video playback in general will not be as fluid as a standalone player because of overhead.
c) Sorry we can't help at this point. This is very disappointing to me and I'm sure many others who have been hoping to use moving backgrounds in PowerPoint. Having received a response like this it is difficult to believe that Microsoft is genuinely interested in addressing its users' feedback. What really has me puzzled is why there is a button at all in the playback tab labeled "Loop until Stopped" if it doesn't work right? Why would someone want that feature if it didn't loop seamlessly? There are a lot of very cool tools and improvements that have been developed with this version. However, they are not very useful if they don't work right.
I agree with Amy. I also experience performance issues with videos (occasionally severe frame dropping). One video repeatedly stopped at one specific point with an "Error playing video" message (or something along those lines). I've also noticed that when using presenter view in a slide show with transitions between slides, it takes between 1-2 seconds from pressing the advance button during a show until having the slide actually advance. This is a huge issue in an environment where slides need to change immediately and predictably, as in mine (we are singing off of slides). Disabling presenter view fixes this problem every time. I've reported this using Send-a-Smile, but extra attention doesn't hurt. I'm also curious if anyone else notices this problem.
Absolutely Curt. This is not new. In my experience presenter view has always (even in previous versions) had noticeable lag, which is why I never use it.
Amy, Curt, thanks for your comments. We are in the process of investigating. We're a bit short handed due to the holidays, so apologies for the delay. Jeffrey Chen, Lead PM, PowerPoint Client
No problem Jeffrey. Enjoy your holidays. BTW, nice new look on the site :)
Incredible! I am so excited to see all these new changes!
Amy and Curt – There seem to be a couple issues you guys are encountering, and I wanted to try to address them as much as possible: 1. In both cases, it sounds like we’re dropping frames, sometimes to the point of video stopping entirely. We’ve been working on improving video performance since the Beta, and we think there will be some noticeable improvements. That said, we want to keep working to improve playback, so any information you can provide for us on your hardware and the video will help us investigate further. Also, if you can run DXDIAG and Save All Information into a report, that'd also be helpful information. Please email any information you can share to allhuan AT microsoft DOT com (the videos, the hardware, or if you can run DXDIAG and send us the outputted report, etc.). In the meantime, in general you’ll get different mileage on video performance based on your hardware and the size of the video. As mitigations, if you can use videos that are at a lower resolution or bit rate (which you can do within PowerPoint by running Optimize Compatibility from the File menu), update your graphics card, or even just shut down other programs you’re running, this can go a long way to making the performance better. 2. Amy is using a moving background that she wants to loop over and over, but there’s a skip during the loop. There’s no question that this is becoming an increasingly common way to incorporate video to create dynamic presentations, and your feedback was important to re-emphasize this. After looking into this some more, my initial response was wrong, and it turns out one of our intrepid developers actually addressed the looping issue previously, so the problem seems to be a playback performance problem similar to the first issue. Similar to the first issue lowering the video quality or even re-encoding the file into WMV might make this work. Unfortunately, we did discover a bug with our “Optimize Compatibility” command that we’re looking to address before release. Thanks again to both of you for your feedback, and apologies for any confusion. While we can’t act on every piece of feedback we hear, the feedback mechanism is the most important way for us to improve. Allen Huang Program Manager
Thank you for your response, Allen -- I'll take another look at how the specific video was playing and try to send that diagnostic report. My larger issue (which Amy also confirmed) is actually with the dropped frames in animations and delayed transitions when Presenter View is turned on. In my projects, I usually set some animations to run immediately after a slide is loaded, using "with previous" or "after previous." However, I also need to set a delay of .5 to 1 seconds, because if I don't, the animation is choppy. I think this might have something to do with PowerPoint creating the current slide's preview and thumbnails for future slides in Presenter View at that exact same moment, because if I go back one animation and forward again, the animation plays very smoothly as intended (it is not a hardware issue; the system is very capable of playing a smooth animation). This problem was also in Office 2007. Thanks so much for your attention with this. I am also using the feedback tool to send feedback. Curt G.
Thanks so much for looking into this further! Will video backgrounds be a reality in PPT2010? I was able to successfully seamlessly loop video by taking the following steps: 1) Application of KB 976133
2) Removal (not recommended) or replacement of anti-virus software Having taken these steps, PowerPoint is now looping video better than Windows Media Player. PowerPoint and WMP are still not able to seamlessly loop the large HD files that QuickTime can, so this remains a challenge to the PowerPoint Team. Thank you again for valuing our input.
Woo Hoo! I'm doing my happy dance. I'll have to make sure to whip up an article on using video triggers for captioning embedded videos in a presentation. Thanks much, guys!
Since almost everyone has a webcam these days I would like a VIDEO NARRATOR functionality. Basically, instead of just recording timing & voice, record video using standard webcam video capture. Add, simple chroma keying functions to your already awesome animation tools and walla! You have a reasonable way to video narrate your own presentation. Your talking head explains, shrinks, moves, walks and gestures to key points as the show plays. Chroma key significantly reduces the narrator footprint on the slide and makes a professional looking presentation. Bookmarks will make movement and timing much easier. Really, this would make powerpoint a convenient video presentation tool. Let us save in a video format and PPT will let every business have their own rudimentary video studio. Technically this functionality exists in parts already. It can be done (all except chroma keyed video) in PPT right now manually. It may be easy for you guys to slap together some existing tools to make this a reality. Something I would like... Eric
@Eric Friesel - Thanks for commenting. This is a great scenario for us to consider in the future, and your feedback is important to get it on our radar screen. If you're a developer,take a look at some of our developer tools and resources (msdn.microsoft.com/.../bb265987.aspx). We've made much of the video functionality via are Object Model interface, and you can definitely do some work slapping things together to make tools for your need.
When saving as a video, the wrong audio appears on some of the slides. It seems to happen if there is trimmed audio or audio that plays across two slides. Very fustrating. There appears to be some in compatabilities with the new PowerPoint features that screw up a video file. Also if you try you try to record an audio clip within PowerPoint, there is static in the back ground. The windows sound recorder works much better.
@Jackie - Sorry to hear that the video is not coming out the way you expect it to. I'd like to get more information to see if there's anything we can do or if there's a bug we've missed. If there's anyway you can send over the file (firstname.lastname@example.org), I'd really appreciate it. In general, we don't support audio that's both trimmed and playing across slides (and it shouldn't work in slide show either), but I'm not sure if that's the problem you're encountering. Also, we've since upped the quality for narration/audio recording, which you'll see in the final release. In general, however, Windows Sound Recorder will give you a higher quality of audio.