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  • Recording PowerPoint and speaker as inexpensively as possible

  • Bob Cole

    February 11, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    I got a request to shoot and edit speakers who are using PowerPoint. It is for internal use, so quality has to be adequate, not broadcast.

    My first reaction was labor-intensive: Shoot the speaker and the PowerPoint screen with two cameras, sync them up in post, and replace the PowerPoint video with the original PowerPoint slides.

    Instead, could I “live-switch” the two streams of video? Is there some inexpensive way to do this, either by recording directly to a hard drive or to an external monitor/recorder? It would have to be HD, due to the tendency of PowerPoint creators to cram the screen with fine print.

    Thanks for any advice!

    Bob C

  • Blaise Douros

    February 13, 2019 at 12:33 am

    Trust me when I tell you that you probably don’t want to live-switch it. One wrong button press, and you’ve messed up some important point by being on the wrong angle. I live-streamed a day-long event with six speakers, with onscreen graphics and a Powerpoint feed from the onstage monitor, which I recorded as a line feed downstream of the switching. I figured we’d have it as an archive of the streamed event, and didn’t want to take up an additional 6 hours * 4 angles’ worth of drive space.

    Months later, I get complaints that we can’t recut it to show another camera angle, or without the graphics, or whatever. Of course, nobody ever specified that it would be used for anything else, but…you have to be smarter than your co-workers/clients.

    For my money, the simplest way to do this would be to get some kind of standalone recorder ( OR ) or video encoder that hooks up to your machine ( ) and split the HDMI signal from the Powerpoint machine to take a video feed from the computer. Sync it up in post, and only cut to the Powerpoint feed when you need to–the slide will change when the speaker changes it, and you don’t have to drop in slides, just make cuts at the appropriate times.

    Otherwise to live-switch, you’re looking at a capture card for your machine, probably some signal converters, switching software…

  • Bob Cole

    February 13, 2019 at 1:57 am

    We’d been thinking of shooting the presenter with one video camera, and running that and a feed from the Power Point laptop into a video switcher. You make a great point about unpredictable client requirements down the line.

    I think we have to live switch, because there is no money for editing in the short term. But thanks to your warning, we will also do an iso record of the speaker using the camera’s own memory cards.

    We’ve identified a video switcher, and wonder whether anyone here has had experiences, good or bad, with this or a comparable model: Roland V-02HD. We would send the switched video to a Blackmagic Video Assist.

    Thanks, and please keep those great ideas coming!

    Bob C

  • Blaise Douros

    February 13, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Got it–I didn’t pick up that there was no money for the edit, just that you were trying to reduce your edit time.

    One approach you could take: two Blackmagic Ultrastudio Mini Recorders ( ), and a license for Telestream Wirecast (or a similar software switcher). Wirecast is primarily aimed at streaming, but it also has capabilities to record a local copy. That’s what I use, and it works well.

    Then you can live switch on your computer, and record the line feed on your machine’s local disk. Would save you even more time transferring media.

  • Mark Suszko

    February 13, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    This stuff has been my bread and butter for years. I’ve done it every way that it can be done, probably.

    The current workflow I use, when it’s long-format, multi-hour stuff we need done cheap, is:

    A KiPro hard drive recorder on the laptop’s output, (we have an SDI scan converter and DA so we’re spliced in between the laptop and the projector) with an audio feed from the main camera or mixer. This gives us a powerpoint track with the live audio welded to the slides, as well as any mousing around the presenter needs to show. Recorders and cams set to free-run, time-of-day time code.

    Main Camera is a Panasonic P2, also feeding a KiPro for anything longer than 3 hours. The P2 Cards are internal backups for redundancy, in case the KiPro has a failure (rare, but I’m a “belt-and-suspenders” kind of guy, so I always try to have a redundant fail-safe on the most vital elements. It’s saved my butt more than once in the past 2 years.)

    A backup wide shot camera: a simple $200 consumer Cannon Vixia. Sometimes it’s a $60 gopro knockoff. This is parked on it’s own tripod or the end of a light stand. Very cheap insurance.

    Powerpoint slides also saved to a thumb drive on location

    The kipros go into Final Cut Pro or Premiere, and are automatically aligned in a multicam edit, aligned by audio. You can actually edit a show like this slightly faster than real-time, by using the jkl keys to put playback in a faster-than-realtime speed, and either using the function keys to switch “live” on the fly, or laying down markers, then going back to make the cuts. These presentations are very predictable, the slides break down like book chapters, so you can establish a visual rhythm of “slide full-screen, presenter, full- screen, slide-presenter 2- shot, slide detail full, presenter wrapping up the slide, rinse, repeat”. It’s not what I’d call the best instructional design format, not how I’d make a presentation if I was the creator, but it’s making the most of what the clients bring to the party, the way they like it.

    I make two identical feeds of the main camera on my timeline, stacked one above the other, one is left normal, the other is manipulated; I adjust the rotation, framing, and cropping so it creates a nice Diptych, with the speaker on one side, and the slide on the other, tilted towards each other like a partly-opened book. A gray background sits behind the diptych on it’s own layer. I add drop shadows to make it nicer. Same with the KiPro iso of the powerpoints with audio: I have a non-modified full-screen layer, and the Effected one that’s been rotated and cropped to match the other half of the diptych.

    What that hinged 2-shot does for me is, it gives me visual variety so a viewer isn’t stuck staring at a slide he or she’s already read for too long, and having the human presenter in the frame, with the slide, gives viewers an option to shift their focus from the slides to the presenter on their own terms, as they watch.

    You want that shot, for example, when the presenter is adding off-the-cuff remarks that are not written on the slide, but still relate to it or expand on the ideas. This makes my shows much easier on an audience, more engaging and less boring, and there’s little to no extra overhead involved in edit time to get the superior presentation quality.

    The 2-shot thing is pre-comped on it’s own layer, so you can treat it as just another camera shot. Simple side-by-side split screens or PIPs can also do this job, but your slides get smaller and harder to read if the two screens are flat or a simple split. The v-shaped diptych, with the slide rotated, gives you a larger slide shot that’s more readable, particularly when clients are overloading the slides with too many lines of small font size.

    The thumb drive imported slides are a backup to cover any losses or mistakes. The wide shot from the consumer Vixia helps cover transitions between major sections and gives me a wide shot to cover the few seconds it takes me to zoom and focus onto individuals in the audience doing Q&A. Not having to show the camera slewing around and whip-panning around to the various people and setting focus, makes it look ever so much more professional. It’s also a backup audio recording and overall continuity coverage. I had a recorder fail me one time, temporarily, and the main camera also chose that moment to die, and this wide shot and it’s audio saved the project.

    So, using this setup, I have shaved 2-3 days off the turn-around time for these kinds of 4-5-hour gigs, versus the older methods I would have used before, like shooting the PowerPoint with a second camera and using that to guide the lay-back of clean slides over the shots in the timeline, manually. My fastest turn-around on a 5-hour shoot day with this method has been one single 8-hour day, with an hour lunch break, breaking down the edited lectures into stand-alone segments, and rendering those out into mpeg4’s for review and approvals and web posting.

    I have done the live-switch thing on-site as well; if you have the luxury of a dedicated director and a dedicated camera op, it can work well. If you’re one-man-banding it, it’s not a fun way to work, and it has potential for big problems if you get behind the power curve on the multitasking.

    I’ve done this also many times in the studio, with a pair of locked-off cameras, one covering a wide shot, one, a tight shot, and the PowerPoint source as a third cam. In these cases, I still record camera isos and slide isos with the live sound, so that a blown switch can be covered in a fast edit by matching to time code or the audio track.
    you really really want to have the isos as insurance, if you plan to do everything live.

    If you’re economizing, you might consider using just one camera, as long as it’s a 4K or better recording, then you can do “punch-ins” in post to make fake closeups as well as tracking shots, your output is 2K. Using the split command on a track and applying the “copy/paste attributes” feature from the first fake close-up you made, makes the other “punch-ins” super fast to execute.

    There are cheap external HDMI-based computer video recorders available now, developed to serve the online gamer niche; those are good for recording the slides with live audio, on a lower budget. Check B&H for examples.

    Don’t have the budget for the hard drive recorders? You might roll the dice and set a screen recorder going on the PowerPoint laptop, but long, un-interrupted records tend to break down for lack of internal RAM or drive space.

    Another possible trick is to put the PowerPoint into “timed rehearsal” mode, and when you save that file, it should be able to generate a MOV file with the slide switch timing matching the live camera shots. But you’d better practice this ahead to make sure it really works.

  • Bouke Vahl

    February 13, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    I could make my Livecut app. available without connecting to a mixer.

    This way you can shoot iso, press the cuts / transitions you want to make on your computer and have fall everything in place based on a good old EDL.

    (And I would recommend also to run a logging application to take notes what to fix in post.)

    I’ve done the same and it is no fun to have to watch hours and hours of stupid content for QC, so i totally relied on my notes.


  • Kevin Copeland

    February 14, 2019 at 8:28 pm


    The Blackmagic Design products work so well together. I would use one of their ATEM switchers for the ‘line cut’. Models start at about $1,000. You can record the ‘line cut’ on an inexpensive H264 game recorder with USB stick like this one: $128.

    You would iso your camera with its cards. You could then send the PowerPoint to another H264 recorder to iso it, using a Distribution amp, or go out of the AUX output of the switcher if it has one. You’ll probably need some HDMI-SDI or SDI-HDMI adapters at some point.

    You would use the ‘line cut’ as your main video and then have iso’s of the camera and PPT if you needed to fix edits later. This gives you a live recording of the PowerPoint with all of its animations, timing and synced to audio at the event. Very helpful. Trying to do it later in post with the .pptx file can be very time consuming.

    Also many presenters build PowerPoint in 4:3 format, not widescreen so you don’t always get good results. Converting 4:3 to 16:9 can be time consuming. (I’m also amazed at how many people forget about margins when it comes to PowerPoint. You would never print a document with text going all the way to the edge of the paper. Whey do they put text on a PowerPoint slide right next to the edges?)

    Another way to record iso’s is to use the BMD Multiview 4.

    This would give you a quad screen with 4, 1080 videos and then output to a 4K recorder like the HyperDeck Studio mini.

    Input 1 could be camera 1, input 2 PowerPoint, Input 3 Program from ATEM switcher, Input 4 anything else you want like a 2nd camera or clean feed from the ATEM. You would then have one 4K recording with all iso shots in the same clip. If you needed to fix your edit with your editing software (like Premiere Pro), the 4k clip could be put in a multi-camera 1080 sequence and you would zoom into each quadrant for each iso. You would have the line cut and each source in that one 4k clip.

    To step things up a bit, you could have live lower thirds with another laptop using PowerPoint and the app. This would make PowerPoint work as a live character generator with animations, shimmers, etc on your lower thirds. The app gives PowerPoint key and fill for true alpha transparency to use with a downstream or upstream keyer.

    I’ve never had much luck with using a computer to do capture for you. The encoding/processing, screen savers, hard drive speed, multi-tasking, etc. always seem to work against you. I’ve found that stand-alone recorders work best.

    Good luck.

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