Create great looking Powerpoint/Keynote presentation videos with Presto
Today, I’m going to take a look at Singular Software’s Presto. Presto is an application that works alongside Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas to create powerful looking videos from Keynote and Powerpoint presentations. We’ve all been there before…called upon to shoot a presentation of someone speaking at a convention and then put together a video using their Keynote or Powerpoint slides.
Not too difficult you might think, until you have to turn around ten of these in a day – and have them ready on the web by the next morning. I know that I’ve been stuck in the editing “hot seat” many times, only to miss lunch and/or dinner and then get up and do it all over again the next day…usually in another state. So let’s see what Presto has to offer. For this review, I’m going to use the sample project provided for download from their website.
- Video of the presenter – the camera shot of the person giving the presentation
- Video of the screen – the camera shot of the screen that displays the slides of the presentation
- Audio of the presenter – usually from the camera but could also be recorded separately
- Extra B-roll
- Slides from the Keynote or Powerpoint presentation
It’s important to note that both the camera shot of the presenter AND the camera shot of the screen should have clean audio of the presentation in order to sync the cameras properly using PluralEyes. It would also be a good idea to slate the two cameras so that you have perfect sync later.
Let’s get started
First thing’s first…we’re going to open Final Cut Pro and start our project. The sample project includes the FCP project file to get started right away, but I thought it would be best to just use the elements and build a new project. That way, we can see exactly how things work. This assumes that you already know Final Cut Pro. If you don’t, dig back into the PA archives to get up to speed.
Video of screen on V1
Start by placing the screen video (the camera angle of the screen that captured the slides) on FCP’s V1 track. The screen camera’s audio files will fit into tracks A1 and A2.
Video of presenter on V2
Next, add the video of the presenter onto track 2 and the camera’s corresponding audio files will fit into tracks A3 and A4.
Clean audio track placed on A5 and A6
The sample project has a “best audio track” file that appears to be second-source audio – so we’ll place that on tracks A5 and A6. Now we’re ready to sync with PluralEyes for FCP. Now, I’ve spent some time going over how to do this for Avid Media Composer and also how to use DualEyes, but I never really explained PluralEyes for FCP so let me take a minute to explain it here – it couldn’t be easier.
As you can see in the image above, I have two camera angles and six audio tracks. PluralEyes is going to analyze all of the tracks and sync them together. Launch the PluralEyes program and select the open FCP sequence that you are working on – mine is called “Presto Project.” Click sync and you will have a new sequence named “Presto_Project 001 (synced)” that contains all of the video and audio tracks that are magically synced.
Synced clips after using PluralEyes
Now that the video tracks and the audio tracks are synced, you can turn off the audio tracks that you don’t need. At this point in the project you can go ahead and add any additional b-roll that you would like to add to the video. In our example, we will include a crowd shot. After you’re done prettying up your video with as much b-roll as you can handle, it’s time to move this project into Presto.
Go ahead and launch Presto from the Applications folder.
Presto welcome screen
It should automatically recognize your open Final Cut Pro project…if not, click the Refresh button. Now, just select the correct sequence and click Get Sequence.
Ok, so now you’re in the heart of the Presto program. There are three main sections to the program; the top left allows you to change the tracks that contain the screen video and the presenter video, the top right shows you an output window and along the bottom you’ll see a timeline of your project and the corresponding video and audio tracks – just like in your FCP project.
The first thing we’re going to do here is add the slides from the Keynote or Powerpoint presentation. You’ll have to prepare the slides ahead of time by exporting them as PNG files from Keynote or Powerpoint. Once you have them created, click on the Add Slide Files button and select your slide files to bring them into Presto. When you’re done adding the slides, click the Process button and let Presto do it’s magic.
I’ll bet you’re wondering what’s happening…well, Presto is analyzing your two camera angles. First it’s going to “watch” your screen camera and match up the corresponding PNG slides with the slides from your camera. Not only will it find the correct slide but it will also time it out to the video! Then Presto moves to the presenter camera. Here it will track the movement of the presenter on the screen. You’ll see why in a second.
When the analyzation is complete, you’ll see a few more additions to the timeline at the bottom:
Analyzed video including new slide track
As we scrub through the timeline, we can see that Presto has created an awesome looking video presentation using our video, audio and graphic elements. Within a matter of a few seconds, Presto has created something that would have taken a few hours by hand. This is definitely great, however, let’s break it down a bit so that we can see what actually happened. Once we understand what is happening here, it will give us a chance to tweak our project a bit if we want to make it our own.
First off, we can see in the timeline that there is a visual element on the top (next to the timecode display) that shows whether we are in full screen graphic mode or whether we are looking at a composite of the presenter and the slides. In our example above, you can see that the full screen mode starts off the presentation for the title graphic:
Then transitions into a composite of the presneter with the slides on the side:
Presto gives you full control to tweak how your project looks:
Presto's edit menu
You can easily change the output of your video by locating the spot on the timeline that you want to change, selecting the look that you want from the menu above and then simply inserting the new template into your project.
Additional edit menu settings
You can also change the transition time for the layout – this is the amount of time it takes to transition from one layout type (like Presenter only) to another (like Left, flat or Left, slant) – as well as giving you the option to add a mask around the presenter – a vignette type of effect. You can also change the slide transition time and effect (like cut or dissolve) to give you control over how the slides are displayed on the screen.
Working within Presto is very easy. I spent a bit of time re-arranging the layout of the video and checking the transitions and I was quite happy with the results. Once you get your project absolutely perfect, simply click the Send to FCP button and the entire project is moved into your original Final Cut Pro project.
Presto project exported back into FCP
Presto sends your finished project back into Final Cut with all of the new elements (and their corresponding effects) in tact. Now you can do you final tweaks in FCP and deliver your project to the client.
When the call comes in to shoot a “back of the room” Powerpoint presentation, budgets are typically low and the client doesn’t expect much. Presto provides you with an opportunity to wow the client for very little time spent – making it look like you spent hours creating a special graphic look for their video. Even when the budget is low, it’s nice to provide something that makes the client take notice – you never know where it might lead.
For me, I think that Presto is a great program and it couldn’t be easier to use. The only down side that I could say here is that you’ll have to bring a second camera to shoot the screen – but it can be ANY camera like a consumer handycam or even one of those direct to SD card flip type cameras. You can pick up the camera and a cheap photo tripod for less than $150 – not a bad investment to make anyway. Just make sure that the camera records decent audio so that you can sync it with your main camera.
In my opinion, the software will pay for itself in one or two projects – especially considering how simple it is to create cool looking videos in very little time. You can pick up Presto for Final Cut Pro or for Sony Vegas for $249 by visiting the Singular Software website or you can give it a try for free. I suggest downloading the sample project to see just how easy it is to use. If you find yourself doing a lot of Powerpoint videos, this is probably something that you don’t want to miss.