How can I easily make a self-contained slideshow?
July 12, 2012 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I've been asked by my employer to make a flash drive containing a self-contained slideshow with music (that he can give to prospective clients) that is both elegant and easy to open. It needs to work on both Mac and PC.

My initial reaction was to use a web-slideshow with some sort of container, but I can't find an easy to use way to encapsulate the files in a program. I'm also pretty good at web programming. I'd prefer not to reinvent the wheel here and program something entirely from scratch. (I downloaded the Adobe AIR stuff and it seems like it has more of a learning curve than I am interested in)
posted by ooklala to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A video might be easier and would almost guarantee a consistent appearance. Web based anything leads to major or minor differences on the various browsers and operating systems.

The question is what is a good video format that's viewable by default on Macs and PCs.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:17 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is the music purely for background purposes, or does it need to be timed with the slides? Will the slides auto-play, or will users need to advance manually?

If it's the former, then turning it into something like an FLV or MP4 should work; if it's the latter, then you'll probably have to do it using Flash. I've authored similar pieces using Captivate, Articulate, and/or Lectora.
posted by evoque at 1:20 PM on July 12, 2012

A video, probably uncompressed .avi if you can manage it.. is your best bet.

You have to be careful because not all systems have the codecs required to play all videos. Which is why I suggest you go uncompressed. This will make the file HUGE though.

You could, in theory, build it as a web-slideshow and just stick all the necessary files onto it. Put all the source files in a folder, and only leave that folder and the "slideshow_index.html" in the root of the drive.

The html file is what they would open, which would appear in whatever their default broswer is.
posted by royalsong at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can add sound to PDF files. It's a well-known format, and almost every PC or Mac can read PDF files.

Prezi could also work. The presentation will be a self contained Flash file, with no need for extra software. Example 1, example 2, with sound.
posted by iviken at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

just as a sort of fyi, computers don't play the flash format (.swf and .flv) natively. Even if they have the flash player installed. It'll say that there is no default program for this file and do they want to open it anyways. Then, if you click yes/open, it (usually) opens in the broswer.
posted by royalsong at 1:40 PM on July 12, 2012

I also suggest PDF because it's the safest and lets you embed your media IF the user has at least Acrobat Reader 9 installed.
posted by smirkette at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2012

I agree that video is probably the easiest way to go. I'd make the video and then encode it in a bunch of different formats so it can play on whatever device.

For windows, there's also VLC on a thumbdrive, so you're guaranteed to be able to play the file in that environment. I'm sure you'll also be able to find portable video players for Mac and Linux.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't assume that everyone has Adobe Reader 9+. Mac users is particular don't have Reader installed because the OS has a built in PDF reader.

I think embedding a flash video in a very simple web page is probably the safest option.

Just sending potential clients a link to a YouTube video is the most bulletproof option, but I realize that's not what you were asked to do.
posted by The Lamplighter at 2:13 PM on July 12, 2012

Flash allows exporting as an executable file for both Windows and Mac. Add an autorun script and it'll launch when the drive is inserted.
posted by davebush at 3:52 PM on July 12, 2012

If you don't have to do it in-house you can get a flipbook made.
posted by unliteral at 9:03 PM on July 12, 2012

This may not be at all what you’re looking for, but; iScreensaver
posted by bongo_x at 9:05 PM on July 12, 2012

This ranges somewhat from overkill to just weird, but you could use Renpy for this. It's made for visual novels, which are basically glorified slideshows with music, and produces executables for Windows, OSX, and Linux. You write the programs in Python with a lot of shortcuts thrown in. It supports transitions, advancing text, and branching navigation out of the box.
posted by 23 at 12:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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