davidd (davidd) wrote,

The Deadly Deep Sea Viperfish

This is a YouTube version of the PowerPoint presentation I cobbled together as a sample to show 4th-grade science students. Actually, this is the "enhanced 1928" version: the kids get one in full color, without the jitter and scratches.

After lots of menu searching, I figured out how to add a background music track to the Apple version of a PowerPoint presentation during the "make movie" function. In this regard the PC version of the software is better, as it allows a continuously looping sound track to run concurrent with individual slide sound effects or narrations during a regular automated PPT presentation. In the Apple version, I could only layer the audio effects by exporting as a "movie."

It was almost by chance I happened across the appropriate way to output a PPT movie in a format compatible with iMovie. For a PPT movie file to work with iMovie, the PPT movie must be output using "Quicktime transitions" or "no transitions" rather than "Slide Show Transitions." Otherwise the imported version in iMovie displays garbled images, or no images at all, although the audio track is clear.

Once I figured all of this out, I naturally had to start tinkering with "effects" filters in iMovie, hence this "vintage" version. I'm still not sure how best to output the completed iMovie project. This YouTube clip is actually the "iPod" version, an m4v file, which loses considerable resolution, rendering some of the small print (the resources page, in particular) illegible. But the file is small enough to upload to YouTube in an almost reasonable amount of time.

Recording a narration track in PowerPoint is a "one take" process. Get it right, or start over. That's the key to the "Old Tyme Radio Voice," which the kids at school don't recognize as me, and which amuses our tech guy (he's old) to no end. After probably twenty "breathlessly enthusiastic" takes, I could barely croak out another syllable by the time I was done. I used additional "ghetto" tricks to further enhance the audio... like hollering through a cardboard bathroom tissue tube. "Oh, the humanity..."

In some ways it might be easier to import the PowerPoint slides as individual images into iMovie and record the audio track separately, and mix it all together "in post" in iMovie. That's the problem with "little" projects like this: I start agonizing over tiny details that most people, in a cursory one-time viewing, would neither notice nor care about, like the awkward pause in mid-sentence on the "dislocating jaws" slide.

I need to remind myself, the point here is not to create a BBC Planet Earth quality documentary. It's to show the kids at school how they can put together a PPT podcast about the adaptations which help organisms survive in specialized environments. Put in too much "fancy stuff" and they'll all want to do it too, and the projects will never get done.

Anyway, there you go: Deep Sea Viperfish.

(Piano track: midi file, Desecration Rag, by Felix Arndt)

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