KB105: Working with Articulate Presenter

Articulate Presenter is a popular way to convert a Powerpoint presentation for playback on the web. With Character Builder you can let a character present your slides for you. Here are some best-practice notes for working with Articulate Presenter.

To create a Flash SWF file that integrates into the Presenter timeline, you will create a new Character Builder project with the Flash Animation output format. This setting is found on the Project panel:

On the same panel, make sure that you have the correct Frame Rate and Flash Version settings.

The Frame Rate should be set to match that of Articulate, normally 30 frames per second. Your Flash Version and ActionScript settings should also normally match the Articulate settings, normally Flash 8, ActionScript 2.

In Powerpoint, go to each slide where you would like a character to appear. Choose Articulate > Insert Flash Movie. In Step 1, choose "Display in slide". (You can also display a movie in the Articulate sidebar area, if present.) In Step 2, Navigate to your My Documents\Character Builder Projects directory, then to your project directory, and finally to the Output subdirectory to select your Flash file. In Step 3, choose the default value for Synchronization: "Play Flash movie and slide in sync", and select "Move to next slide automatically when movie finishes".

The default time for "Buffer 5 seconds of the movie before playing" should be adequate. When you press Finish, Articulate will insert a picture (actually a shockwave flash object) into Powerpoint that represents the first frame of the Flash movie. You can then move the picture anywhere on the scene, so as not to obscure the content. (Note that the background of this picture may be solid white in Powerpoint, but it will become transparent when you publish to Flash. It helps to make the Character Builder stage has small as possible while still accommodating the character and its range of motions.)

Finally, use the Articulate > Publish menu option, as normal, to create a resulting Flash file set.

Some further notes:

  • In many cases you will create several different Character Builder movies for integration into a single Articulate project. To do this you can either create multiple Character Builder projects (one per output movie), or you can create a single Character Builder project file with multiple presentations or even multiple scenes, then disable all but one presentation or scene using the Disable for Render and Enable for Render commands located on the right-click (context) menu on the elements in Outline view. By enabling only what you need you can quickly render a single item at a time.
  • Earlier versions of Articulate would silence the opening portion of the audio of its embedded movies. We recommend adding a Pause action as the first action in your presentation if the first word is getting silenced.
  • Since the character will carry the narration, you may decide not use Articulate's built-in audio narration functionality. Or, if you already have a narration, you will find the .wav files, one per slide, in a subdirectory beneath your Powerpoint file, in a narration directory, with one .wav file per slide. You can use these audio files with the Import Audio feature in Character Builder.
  • Some of your slides may have animations. For example a slide may have 3 bullet point, each of which appears one by one. Using only the Character Builder you would accomplish this by creating 3 text objects, setting them to initially hidden, and using the Show action at the point where each bullet is to be revealed. But in integrating the Builder output with another program, the character does not enjoy the same access to that program's objects, so timing requires a bit more work. Articulate has a Sync Animation Timings that lets you adjust the timings of Powerpoint's On Mouse Click animation. If your slide includes a Builder movie instead of an audio narrative, then you can use the same feature to adjust where the next animation will fall.

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