We already know that Articulate Presenter is a great tool for elearning. However, another great feature of Presenter is that it is an easy way to build Flash movie files (.swf).
I’ve used PowerPoint and Presenter to create Flash animations and graphics for Engage and Quizmaker. I’ve even built simple animated banners for websites and other projects. For example, the animation at the top of this post was created in PowerPoint and published with Presenter. Here’s a link to see it play in your browser.
OK…so that’s pretty cool. How do I do it?
PowerPoint + Articulate Presenter = Flash Animation
- The first step is to create an animated slide in PowerPoint. It can be as simple or complex as you want the animation to be. It can even have audio.
- Then publish the file. Presenter takes the PowerPoint slide and combines it with the audio to create a slide.swf. What we’re going to do is pull the slide.swf out of the data folder and use that as a Flash file in Engage and Quizmaker.
- Go to the publish folder. Inside the data folder is a .swf folder. That holds the slide.swf files. Locate you .swf file.
- Copy it and paste it to a different location.
- Give it a new name so that you know what it is.
- Then all you have to do is insert the .swf into Engage or Quizmaker as you need it.
See it in Action
Here are some examples of the PowerPoint-created .swfs inserted into Engage or Quizmaker:
In the demo above, the content and narration in the pyramid sections all comes from PowerPoint. As you can see, it’s an effective way to add animations with narration to Engage.
In the demo above, you’ll notice that I inserted PowerPoint-based Flash files in many of the Engage interactions. What I like to do is not use any of the Engage features like text and narration and just build all of the content in PowerPoint. Then, I insert the slide.swf into the interaction. They fill the entire screen (as you can see in the tab image above) and look really nice.
Inserting the slide.swf into Quizmaker is just as easy. If you want to replay the .swf, just click on the zoom button. You’ll notice that the second .swf is partially transparent and the quiz background shows through it. I explain why below.
As you can see, the .swfs work well in the other Articulate products. What’s nice about this approach is that it lets you add text, audio, and animation to the Engage screens. Many times, I’ll create all of my content in Presenter and pull the slides into Engage. It’s a great way to make the Engage screens more colorful and lets you add animation like you can in Presenter with PowerPoint.
Here are some tips and tricks when using this approach.
- The published slide.swf has a transparent background. If you look at the second quiz question in the demo above, you’ll notice that the .swf blends into the quiz background. That’s easy to fix. Just add a background image to the slide before publishing. That’s what I did for the first question. i just added a black box to the back of the slide.
- You have limited control of the .swf. It is what it is. However, with some creativity you can create the illusion of control by timing the recorded PowerPoint animations before publishing.
- Hyperlinks won’t work. If you insert a hyperlink in the slide and publish, you’ll notice that the slide.swf will change the mouse cursor when you rollover the link. This implies you can click on it. If you want to build the muscles in your clicking finger, feel free to click as often as you like. However, nothing’s going to happen.
- Leverage the transparent slide. As I mentioned earlier, the slide is transparent. You can create a slide with nothing on it and just record narration. Since it’s transparent, you can insert that .swf into Quizmaker and turn off the zoom. This way the user sees nothing, but can hear the audio.
- Insert the slide.swf into a different PowerPoint presentation. Since the .swf is transparent, you can create animated characters that can be inserted into your PowerPoint presentation via the insert flash option. The size is a little different, but with some practice, you can make simple animated avatars.
Here’s a quick explanation of how the transparent slide.swf works with a demo of an animated character.
You can see a presentation with an animated background, too.
The only thing left to do now is to fire up PowerPoint and create some slides. Remember, you don’t need to create any fancy animations. It can be something as simple as just pulling your regular slides from PowerPoint and loading them into an Engage interaction.
You can also check out these related posts on animation:
- How Walt Disney Would Use PowerPoint to Create E-Learning Courses
- Articulate 101: Add Animations to Your Next E-Learning Course