To make a movie from an audio recording plus powerpoint slides...

The problem: I had an audio recording of a scientific lecture, plus the professor's slides. Unfortunately, no video recording was made of the lecture. I needed to turn the combination of Powerpoint slides + the audio recording into a usable movie. Here's how I did it.

1. Load the .ppt or .pptx file into Powerpoint (I used Microsoft Powerpoint 2003, running on 64-bit Windows 7, but you could presumably use the free Kingsoft WPS Suite or OpenOffice, instead.).

2. Save it as png format; it will prompt and let you save all slides as a folder full of individual .png files.

3. Exit Powerpoint.

4. (Optional) If there are more than nine slides, then rename Slide1.png through Slide9.png to Slide01.png through Slide09.png, so they're in the right order with the rest of the slides. (Alternately, you can fix the order in Windows Live Movie Maker, by dragging the slides around.)

5. Play the audio, while stepping through the slides, and note each slide name and the start time (hh:mm:ss) for each slide. Enter them in columns A (slide name) and B (hh:mm:ss) of a spreadsheet, respectively. (Set the format of Column B to hh:mm:ss in "format cells.")

6. Add a column C to your spreadsheet, with the start times in seconds. (The formula for C1 is "=B1*86400" [because 24x60x60 is 86400] then "Fill Down" (Edit->Fill->Down) for the rest of the spreadsheet column.)

7. Add a column D to your spreadsheet, with the length of each slide, in seconds. (The formula for D1 is "=C2-C1" then "Fill Down" to the 2nd-to-last row.)

8. Run Windows Live MovieMaker (which Microsoft has renamed Windows Essentials Movie Maker). (The version I'm using has a wlsetup-web.exe installer file version number of 14.0.3508.205, but the program identifies itself as version 14.0.8091.0370. The latest version has an installer file version number of 14.0.3528.331, but I haven't installed it yet.)

1/14/2017 Update: Microsoft has discontinued support for all of the "essential" programs in the "Windows Essentials 2012 Suite," and removed the download link from their web site, presumably because they think you don't need things that are "essential," or they don't care what their customers need. However, for now, the Essentials 2012 online/web installer still works, if you can find a copy. Fortunately, archive.org has copies here:
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://g.live.com/1rewlive3/EN/wlsetup-web.exe
or here:
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://wl.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/F/1/F/F1FE75CE-C235-4250-9598-AEE5D854A7EA/en/wlsetup-web.exe
You might need to try several versions; some don't seem to work for me, though that could be a transient glitch at archive.org. The downloaded wlsetup-web.exe file should be 1,239,752 bytes.
(If Microsoft makes archive.org take that down, then email me -- I have a copy.) 
Microsoft has also taken down the 2011 version offline installer.
http://g.live.com/1rewlive4-all/en/wlsetup-all.exe redirects to:
http://wl.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/8/3/D/83D75746-DF04-45E9-8374-BD31B9419128/en/wlsetup-all.exe
which is gone. But archive.org has copies; here's one:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150602053422/http://wl.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/8/3/D/83D75746-DF04-45E9-8374-BD31B9419128/en/wlsetup-all.exe
It should be 225,431,912 bytes.
(If Microsoft makes archive.org take that down, then email me -- I have a copy.) 
The 2012 version offline installer link still works, at least for now, and archive.org has copies, as well:
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://g.live.com/1rewlive5-all/en/wlsetup-all.exe
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://wl.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/C/1/B/C1BA42D6-6A50-4A4A-90E5-FA9347E9360C/en/wlsetup-all.exe
This seems to be the final version:
https://web.archive.org/web/20170112124505/http://wl.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/C/1/B/C1BA42D6-6A50-4A4A-90E5-FA9347E9360C/en/wlsetup-all.exe
It should be 137,329,840 bytes.
(If Microsoft makes archive.org take that down, then email me -- I have a copy.) 
Note: you might need to also install .NET Framework 3.5 for these; here's the Microsoft link for .NET 3.5 with SP1:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/2/0/e/20e90413-712f-438c-988e-fdaa79a8ac3d/dotnetfx35.exe

9. In Windows Live Movie Maker add all the .png files (slides) to your project. (You can also add other things, like .mp4 video clips.) (Caveat: the presentation that I converted contained no annimations or fancy transitions. I don't know how those would work -- probably not well.)

10. Click on each slide, and set its duration, using the time in seconds from column D of your spreadsheet.

11. Check the start time of the last slide, and then go back and fix the durations of the previous slides which you got wrong.

12. Use "Add music" to add the audio track.

13. Save the movie project; it will be in .wlmp format.

14. Export the movie; it will be in .wmv format. (Note: this step is slow; it might take several hours for a long presentation at high resolution.)

15. Convert the movie to .mp4 format, using Handbrake. Here are instructions:
http://www.howtogeek.com/199618/how-to-use-handbrake-to-convert-any-video-file-to-any-format/
Notes:
A. I used the "Optimize for Web" option, which might make video playback start quicker.
B. Converting to .mp4 shrinks the videos substantially: by 53% for my 640x480 version, 60% for my 720p version, and 63% for my 1080p version, compared to .wmv format.
C. Be sure to change the output file extension to ".mp4".

 

How to improve the audio track...

A problem I had was that my audio recording was of poor quality. I made it using Tape-A-Talk on my Samsung Galaxy SII Skyrocket phone, and I sat in the center of the front row to get the best recording that I could manage, but it was still poor. The volume was low, and when I boosted the volume there was a lot of background hiss.

To improve it, I first used Audacity's Noise Reduction and Amplification (18dB) effects, which worked pretty well, except that the result had very jarring exaggerated S-sounds whenever an "S" was spoken. So then I used the Spitfish de-esser Plug-In to reduce the S-sounds, which helped a lot.

Note: The best/easiest way to get Audacity is via Ninite, but you might also want to install the optional FFmpeg library and LAME mp3 encoder.

Under 64-bit Windows 7, to install Spitfish, first download the_fish_fillets_v1_1.zip from http://digitalfishphones.com/main.php?item=2&subItem=5.
Then unpack the_fish_fillets_v1_1.zip into "C:\Program Files (x86)\Audacity\Plug-Ins\"
(or "C:\Program Files\Audacity\Plug-Ins\" if you use a 32-bit version of Windows).
Then within Audacity go to Effects->Manage, find SPITFISH, and "enable" it.

Here's a video about how to reduce background hiss using Audacity:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vZihqnDMG4
I used Noise Reduction settings of 18 dB, Sensitivity 3.00, and 2 frequency bands.
I also used the "amplify" effect to increase the volume by 18 dB. (I let it clip a lot, because the loud parts were just the audience clapping.)

That worked, mostly, but it caused the S's to become very pronounced and unpleasant. So I found this video about "de-essing" with a free plug-in called "Spitfish."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UkcDL7NkZg
I set both Spitfish "knobs" to about 90%.

I also found this educational video about de-essing musical recordings.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY--yk11EF4
That guy demos several fancier tools for de-essing. Unfortunately, my ears aren't as good as his. I can't even hear the difference for many of his examples. Nevertheless, it is quite informative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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