Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Integrating Captivate 3 movies with Presenter Part II

In the first part of this series that I'm calling Integration between Adobe Captivate and Presenter, I described the problem of how Captivate files, when published using it's default settings, can cause playback performance problems when incorporated in Presenter content.

What I'd like to do here is outline a drawback of that procedure and I'd also like to offer some other thoughts on how to approach the integration between these 2 products, so here we go...

I provided a tip to overcome one possible problem and that meant having to save all of the Full Motion Recording files in the resources directory of a published PowerPoint deck. If you choose to copy and paste the FMR's into the resources directory of your Adobe Presenter content, then you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that every time you publish, you're going to need to copy/paste the FMR's back into the resources directory all over again.

The alternative approach is to take a different look at how Captivate works with files. Here's what I mean: After speaking with Silke Fleischer, Product Manager for Captivate, what we were able to determine is that you can take the full motion recordings and insert them into your Captivate project as flash objects (afterall, they're swfs!!!)...but just make sure that you insert the FMR swfs on new, blank slides. Then go back and delete any slide that has the camera icon (which denotes where the full motion recordings took place to begin with). If you republish, again without borders, you'll end up with one swf that can be incorporated into PowerPoint using the Adobe Presenter plugin.

But there's a drawback here as well: What I noticed after using this method is that there was a very brief "flash" of white at the beginning of every FMR. I recently attempted to use a static screen shot of the interface that I was recording, and used that screen shot as a background image for the entire project. It looked better...only to the degree that I no longer had flashes of white, BUT now the movie had more "jump cuts" as the swf progressed from one slide to another in the Captivate movie. Tolerable up to a point, but then again, it'll depend on what kind of screen capturing you're doing and how much clicking and dragging is necessary.

That said, a couple other things to keep in mind:

  1. Set up your environment as best you can to reduce the amount of FMRs that would result from the recording process. Pre-sizing windows as they are needed will go a long way to controlling how much movement needs to happen. A corollary to this is to practice your setup if possible. This means opening panels, dialog boxes, etc so as to "pre-script" the recording session as best you can.
  2. Remember that Captivate records captures based on screen changes. When it comes to things like scrollbars, an easy method to reduce FMR's is to NOT scroll with the mouse, but rather click inside the scrollbar's trackbar to force your window to scroll up or down. Also in that same vein is to use keyboard strokes when possible. Example: rather than click/drag to select a word (let's say you need to change or edit text), try using Shift with your Arrow keys, or hold down the Shift key and left click with the mouse to select a word or words.
  3. If you have a situation where scrolling is absolutely necessary, I'd strongly recommend the following Tech Note that describes how to create smooth scrolling for Captivate recording. http://www.adobe.com/go/135575aa

The point in all of this is to come to a better understanding of how to better integrate these 2 products. As it stands right now, Captivate and Presenter don't exactly play well together. It's a bit of a wierd family dynamic; they both do extremely well for the tools that they provide...it's just that they don't communicate very well together. However, I hope that I've given you some insight as to what's causing these issues, and more importantly, I hope you've come away with techniques to overcoming them. Let me know what you think...and better yet, I'd invite you to consider showcasing your work!

Let's see what you've got, so post a link to your presentation on the Presenter Showcase board over at my forum!


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