Presentation software help
July 21, 2006 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Looking for software that can deliver very high quality, professional, attractive multimedia presentations that can be burned to a CD, sent to a customer, and "walk" the customer through the presentation in the absence of a speaker/presenter.

The program cannot require recipients of the CD to have or download and install any special programs. They should be able to simply insert disk and hit "play."

Right now, we have over 500 PowerPoint slides regarding various training topics, some of which are related to each other, some are not. We need to turn these slides into presentations. The goal is to send each customer a CD containing customized content, containing only the slides/information they need.

This CD will be a training tool for customers to learn about complex silicon chips, so it will need to be heavy on content, supplemented by pictures and audio explanations. Music, movies, etc, will not be required as of now, but if it has the features built in, that's fine too.

Here are some features we absolutely must have:

- Ability to incorporate mainly power point (and all other MS office docs a plus), images such as JPEGS and Illustrator files, PDFs, Adobe CS files a plus.
- Audio capability (to run at same time as content). If this software can also record audio, great, if not, we should at least be able to "insert" it with ease.
- Variety of easy-to-use templates with customizable colors a huge plus.
- Ability to insert company logo
- Ability to burn to a CD and have it "auto-run"
- Professional quality (not just "good enough" for personal or school use, but something that screams “high-quality” “corporate” and “cutting edge”)
- No programming, flash, or animation knowledge necessary
- CD recipent must be able to somehow go backward/forward to re-visit topics as needed and stop/pause during the presentation. (This is self-paced so the customer may need to take notes, take a break, etc.)
- Must not have restrictions on length or amount/number of slides, audio, etc. As stated above, the trainings are concerning very complex, technical subjects and may require lengthy audio explanations along with written content, charts, photos, etc.

Cost is not an object. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
posted by aebaxter to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Flash. Duh.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 1:23 PM on July 21, 2006

it looks like you are looking for two things:

- An authoring system that allows a non-programmer to build a custom training CD-ROM


- The CD itself, which should auto-run the presentation and have fully functional navigation.

I don't know what currently exists in the market for these tools, but they can be made (it's what I do ;^) )

Not sure if you have the timeframe/budget to have these tools built for you vs. finding existing ones. Feel free to email me (in profile)
posted by blind.wombat at 2:57 PM on July 21, 2006

I build CDs like that for a living for Nike, Adidas, Converse, and others.

Your user experience requirements--auto run, easy navigation--are doable. Your production requirements are not. Your source material will need to be compiled by someone who knows how to convert those formats to something useable. If you want it to be "Professional quality" then you'll need a graphic designer, and a voice-over pro, with pro recording.

A custom-built templated system is possible, but there is nothing for you off the shelf.

If money is no object, just hire a pro to help you build a production process/system.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 3:23 PM on July 21, 2006

I think dave hits it on the head.

Pick: User experience or Designer competence. You can't have both.

You want the user experience 100% easy, cool, powerful, flexible? Forget anything that has a template, and be prepared for lots and lots of specific customization that requires specific knowledge.

You want something that has loads of templates, and is 'prebuilt'? You're going to need to install something, and it's not going to have that 'professional feel.'

You want heavy control, easy of use - make it someone else's problem and hire experts (like nonmyopicdave).
posted by filmgeek at 4:28 PM on July 21, 2006

PowerPoint. It does a lot more than the lame presentations you see. I've found some professional-looking, attractive templates at, and you can always design your own.

It will burn a CD, I believe all you have to do is double-click. The CD recipient need not have PowerPoint: it packages a viewer with the CD. You could probably set it up to auto-run, although I've never done it.

It supports insertion of media, including sound, and I think it lets you record. It can auto-advance slides, but also allows manual control.

While I'm not a big Microsoft fan, I don't see any reason that PowerPoint can't do everything you mention.
posted by fogster at 8:21 PM on July 21, 2006

Heh. Or blind.wombat (I'm already taken for the next few months).

Incidentally, aebaxter, one of my largest clients is UT Austin.

If you want a referral, I can give you some names, or point you to the right email list of experts.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 8:23 PM on July 21, 2006

As others have said, if cost is not an object and you want something professional then hire someone who can help you with design, structure and content.

Once there's a suitable 'framework' in place you may be able to update much of it yourself, but I strongly recommend getting the framework designed and built by a pro.
posted by malevolent at 2:27 AM on July 22, 2006

I use Camtasia to record my live audio with Powerpoints.

You might also want to check out this hidded gem from MS called Producer.
posted by marc1919 at 10:57 AM on July 22, 2006

I should also mention Ovation from Serious Magic that has templates for non-designers.
posted by marc1919 at 10:59 AM on July 22, 2006

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