Two PowerPoint 2007 tricks that could save your life

On Wednesday evening I was putting the finishing touches on probably the most important presentation I’ve given in the past few years.  As I was testing everything on my trusty little netbook just before bed-time, two scary problems reared their ugly heads: 1) An embedded MS-MPEG4 encoded AVI simply showed a black box when played and, perhaps even more disheartening, 2) the last and most important slide took between 4 and 6 seconds to appear.

the people that brought you powerpoint
The people that brought you PowerPoint.

Some of you might remember that I posted about a strange PowerPoint 2003 bug and its work-around back in 2005.  In short, hyperlinking to an MS-MPEG4 encoded AVI would result in a completely unnecessary warning dialogue.  Renaming the AVI to MPG made this problem go away.

Guess how I worked around the movie clip black box problem in PowerPoint 2007?  Yes, children, changing the file extension from AVI to MPG and re-embedding the movie-clip resulted in a perfectly-playing embedded AVI.  You can thank the clever guys and girls at Microsoft for keeping life interesting with these pleasant little surprises.

Problem #2 took slightly longer to solve, but Uncle Google soon had me on the right track.  The last slide in my presentation, the one that took 4 to 6 seconds to appear, was quite image-heavy.  It turns out that PowerPoint saves embedded images in a relatively inefficient non-compressed form.  This does, contrary to what we expect from MS, make sense, as one would like to retain all image information.  However, when one is doing a slide-show, the processing that has to take place scaling and displaying all images takes an inordinate amount of time.  Having an upwards of 4 second delay before the next slide appears is simply not acceptable.

The solution is saving a copy of your presentation, but with image compression activated.  Do “Save As” and on the bottom-left of the dialogue that appears, select the “Tools” menu button, then “Compress Pictures”, then “Options” and finally “Screen (150ppi)”.  Now “Ok” twice, then finally select a new filename and click on “Save”.  In my case, the presentation file was reduced from 10MB to 2MB, and the load time for that crucial last slide from 4 seconds (minimum) to slightly less than 1.

That concludes the second installment in my exciting life as a PowerPoint flunky!

7 thoughts on “Two PowerPoint 2007 tricks that could save your life”

  1. I am not a PC guy but the tip above about changing .avi to .mpg saved my life! Doing a powerpoint for a client on the Mac, had to convert all .movs to avi and reinsert them. Didn’t play just showed the black screen. (could hear audio just fine)
    Deadline is an hour and a half and I was sweating!
    Thank you, thank you!

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