I frequently work with churches and other clients who are trying to just about everything for their presentations and videos with either Powerpoint or Keynote. This may sound strange to you, but to the people I have worked with, it seems natural because they think that is how its done and/or they know the software and are comfortable with it.
So, if you find yourself in this group, here are some basic tips for how to create a Powerpoint Video or Apple Keynote Video. (These tips are also good for if you want to design still images for video with Powerpoint.).Â This is part one on how to design your slides with video in mind.
How To Create A Powerpoint Video – Part 1: Design
1. Choose the correct aspect ratio.
When you are designing a Powerpoint that will be turned into a video, the first thing you need to know is what aspect ratio do you want to be in. This means are you be playing the video on a) a normal non-wide TV or a standard 4:3 aspect projector, or b) are you going to display it in HD widescreen, on a wide computer monitor, flat screen tv, or HD projector? If you are planning on putting the video on YouTube or a similar site, or if you are integrating the powerpoint into a video with HD footage, you need to choose a widescreen aspect. I really only recommend a standard 4:3 aspect if your only display location is a projector or system that is only capable of playing a 4:3 signal. Some older projectors only display 4:3 or perhaps there is a permanent screen in the room that is only 4:3. If you will later also deliver it on YouTube, you should either design two versions â€“ one in each aspect â€“ or design it in widescreen, and show it in a letterbox format (black above and below the image).
2. Use proper templates.
When you create a new Powerpoint or Keynote slide, it automatically creates one or more text boxes on the slide with placeholder text, based on the style or template you’ve chosen. Too often, I see people add new text boxes from scratch, and ignore the template boxes. Powerpoint and Keynote each have their own way of doing it, but both contain multiple styled slides for a given presentation template.
- Big Title and subtitle
- Bulleted list with title
- Bulleted list without title
- Title and image
- Just a big image
- Bullets and an image
It is important to keep this in mind, and try to choose the template that most closely resembles what you want to accomplish with your slide. Some very good designers created these for you, don’t try to re-invent the wheel.
- To choose a different Layout in Microsoft Powerpoint, right-click on the slide thumbnail on the left, choose the Layout submenu, and choose a different layout.
- To choose a different Layout in Apple Keynote, Click the Format button in the menu, and choose a layout from the drop down menu.
Also, don’t resize the boxes, if you can avoid it, which is our next tipâ€¦
3. Keep The Margins.
The next most important thing when designing for video is margin. People seem to want to stretch the preformatted text box all the way to the edge of the screen. They tell me they can’t fit all the text if they don’t. First, if you have to do that, you probably have twice as much text as you should on your slide. Secondly, the designer put those margins there because it looks better. Thirdly, if you are creating a video from your slides, those margins are a requirement.
While is isn’t as prevalent with today’s HDTVs and most projectors, back in the days of Tube TVs, there was alway a chance, depending on the make and model of TV, that the viewer was going to loose about 5-10% off the edge of the screen behind the plastic bezel. This was actually by design, as the original technology behind it was imperfect, and this literally helped hide the rough edges.
But, even modern TVs and projectors will loose some of the edge â€“ you just don’t know what kind of screen the viewer is going to have. So it is best to make sure you leave 5-10% margin on all four sides of the screen. If you are in control to the presentation screen or projector, you can always perform a test.
4. Contrast is Key.
Yet another thing the smart template designers have done is choose complementary fonts and colors that look nice and are readable. So you want to try to stick with the colors they have chosen for Foreground, background, title, etc. You want to have either light text, on a dark background (white on black) or dark text on a light background (black on white). If a color is too close to the middle of the spectrum, either avoid it, or make sure the contrast color is as close to the opposite end of the spectrum as possible. I actually keep a gray scale chart as my desk to help remind me of this. I want everything to be at least 4 steps apart.
5. Be careful with your fonts.
Fonts that look great on paper are not fonts that will look great in a video or on a slide. Fonts that are too thin can be hard to read, or blur out when reduced. Remember, if you are uploading this to an online video, it is going to be compressed (that is, the quality will be reduced and similar colors will get blurred together), and may be displayed at a different size than you designed them. For instance, if the video ends up on youtube, they may watch it on a tiny 4 inch smart phone, or they may leave it in a window on YouTube, and not blow it up.So you need to choose fonts â€“ and font sizes â€“ that will be readable this way. One way to begin to test this is don’t edit your PowerPoint at 100% size â€“ reduce it to 50% or less while editing and see if you can still read it. In both applications this is possible from either the View menu or from the slider bar at the bottom (depending on version #). This will also help you understand the contrast from above, as fonts are reduced, they will become thinner, and may blend into the background.
Bonus Tip – Edit Your Slide Master Designs – NOT Your Slide Designs
If you want to change something on multiple slides, such as font, color, bullet style, you should edit the Slide Master, NOT each individual slide Each slide style should have its own slide master.
- In Microsoft Powerpoint 2007: Go to the View Tab, then click Slide Master.
- In Apple Keynote: Go to View -> Edit Master Slides.
This is why it is very important to let the text boxes and other objects stay in their original positions and sizes. If you have a slide deck of 100 slides, and you decide, after testing it on your projector or display, that you can get away with narrower margins, you only need to change the size of the text box on the master slide, not all 100 individual slides.
Also, if you are creating most or all of your slides without bullets, you can turn them off in the master slide. Go to the Master Slide for the layout, click in the bullet list text box, and click the “