SuperShow – Create Audio/Video Presentations Everyone Can View

by CountryFriedMama on December 1, 2011

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In today’s corporate, school and even church environments, knowing how to take advantage of the tools available via presentation applications, like Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote and OpenOffice Impress, is practically a must. Being able to come up with professional-looking videos and presentations that don’t distract is an art form. Unfortunately, after giving a presentation, there exists a problem. Let’s say an organization wants to put up the presentation files (for instance, on a website), so anyone who missed the presentation can catch up. The problem stems from the fact that the presentation slides, while undoubtedly nice, will almost surely not tell the whole story. If they did, what would the point of having a speaker be? So a partial solution would be to also make the audio of the presentation available, although even with both the audio and the slides, there remains some question of exactly when a slide should change. For Linux users, there is a solution, and it’s called SuperShow. SuperShow is a small utitlity that is able to combine PDF files (most presentation programs, including Google Docs, a web-based option, can export to PDF), and audio, to create a Shockwave Flash (.swf) presentation playable in any Flash-enabled web browser.

But you’re not just cramming the two together. No, after telling SuperShow which PDF and which audio file to use, you actually sit there while the audio plays, clicking a button to tell it exactly when the slides should advance. In this way, someone watching the presentation only needs to sit there, while your creation does the rest.

And SuperShow is really easy to use. Just select the audio and PDF you want to use(SuperShow apparently also supports video, although I didn’t try out that option), then tell SuperShow where to save the final output file, and what to call it. Then click the Next Slide button. Once you do this, SuperShow will begin playing back your audio file. To tell it exactly when to change slides, all you need to do is click the Next Slide Button.

When you’re done with this, and satisfied that everything is as it should be, you simply hit the Create Slideshow button. (If you want, you can save the timeline, which saves you the trouble, should you want to make another copy at a later date, from having to click through all the slide changes again.)

In saving the presentation, you’ll see a couple options. You can choose between two export options, one called pdf2swf and the other called GhostScript. According to the notes, pdf2swf will give you maximum quality, but will sometimes fail with very complex presentations. GhostScript, on the other hand, will apparently always work, but only provides medium quality.

Since your PDF presentation will be saved as a series of JPEG files, you’ll want to tell SuperShow the quality to use (85 percent quality is a standard, and should be fine in most instances), along with a couple of interaction options. You can choose to have control buttons added to your presentation, which will keep it from starting automtically when loaded, the option to then hide those control buttons when the presentation is playing, and a third option to add a “Play Again” button.

Once you’ve made your selections, simply click the Forward button and SuperShow will proceed to extract each “page” from your original PDF, convert the audio to WAV format, and bundle them, together with the timeline you created, in the SWF presentation. And that’s it! Depending on the number of slides and the length of the audio, these presentations can be a little large, but not overly so, in my opinion. I took a song I had lying around on my hard drive that was about 2 and a half minutes long, and combined it with a 55-page PDF, and when converted using the pdf2swf option, the eventual file was slightly less than 13 MB in size. Using the GhostScript option, the file ballooned in size to a little over 17 MB. Both worked fine in Firefox.

So all in all, I’m pretty pleased with SuperShow. It really does make it incredibly simple to take the various aspects of a presentation – the slides and the audio – and combine them into a single, synchronized presentation that anyone can view.

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