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Lesson 3: Sound effects, soundtracks, and narration
 Advanced Microsoft® PowerPoint 2003
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 Sound and PowerPoint   Page 1 of 10

In Lesson 2, you learned how to manage graphics; in this lesson, you'll learn about sound.

Because you can

Just because you can do something in PowerPoint does not mean you should. You need a reason to use sound in a PowerPoint presentation -- and it should be a compelling one that has something to do with your content; otherwise, leave it out. Audiences don't usually appreciate gratuitous sound effects.

That said, however, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to use sound in a PowerPoint presentation. You can:

  • Play a recorded audio message from an executive who could not attend the presentation personally.
  • Play background music during a photo-based slide show, such as one you created with the Photo Album feature from Lesson 2.
  • Record narration to accompany each slide, so that people who can't attend your live presentation can still have the benefit of your commentary on each slide.
  • Occasionally (and we do mean occasionally) create some levity in a presentation by including a sound effect, perhaps associated with a piece of clip art.
How PowerPoint stores sound clips

If you plan on playing back a presentation on a PC other than the one on which you create it, here's something that's absolutely critical for you to know. PowerPoint stores all sound files except narration and small clips in WAV (Windows Wave) format (100 KB or smaller) as separate files from the presentation itself, and links to them as they're needed during the show. So, for example, if you set up an MP3 (Moving Picture Experts Group Layer-3 Audio) file to play during the show, it's not embedded in the presentation file; it remains a separate file.

You can change the size threshold for WAV files from the default 100 KB. Select Tools > Options, and on the General tab, change the setting in the Link sounds with file size greater than box.

Consequently, if you transfer your presentation file to another PC, but you don't transfer the associated sound files, you'll be in for a rude surprise when you try to give your presentation. None of your sounds will be there! The same thing goes for any video files you include in your presentation.

The easiest way around this problem is to use File > Package for CD to transfer your presentation to another computer. You can either burn it to a CD (if you have a CD burner) or you can package it to a folder on your hard disk that you can then transfer via some other means.

The Package for CD command is available only in PowerPoint 2003. If you have an earlier version of PowerPoint, you must use File > Pack and Go instead. This creates a self-extracting package containing all the files needed for your presentation; you can copy that file to the destination PC, and then extract them there.

You can also store all the sound and video files you plan to use in your presentation in the same folder as the main presentation file itself, and then transfer them all to the destination PC. As long as they're in the same folder as the presentation, the references to them in the presentation are relative, so if the location changes, PowerPoint can still find them.

 Sound file formats and sources   Page 2 of 10

There are many sound file formats, but they all fall into one of two categories: digital audio and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

A digital audio file is a digitized version of an analog-origin sound. For example, if you sing into a microphone and your PC records it, that's digital audio. If a celebrity makes a music CD, that's digital audio too. Digital audio files can have a variety of extensions, such as MP3 (compressed computer-stored versions of music tracks) and WAV (typically used for sounds recorded with a microphone). Because of the nature of the recording process, in which the analog sound is sampled many times per second, digital audio files tend to be very large in size.

MP3 files are much smaller than WAV files. MP3 is typically used for longer clips, such as entire songs; WAV files are typically used for short clips, such as sound effects.

A MIDI file, on the other hand, does not have an analog origin. For example, if you connect an electronic keyboard to your PC and play a song on it, and the computer records it, that's MIDI. MIDI files typically have a .mid extension. MIDI files are much smaller than digital audio files of any type, but they tend to sound artificial. (Think early 1980s techno-pop music, when there was no mistaking a synthesizer for a real piano. Those synthesizers were an early form of MIDI.)

Sources of sound files

Sound collections are widely available online, both for free and for pay, and you can buy sound collections on CDs too. Don't be too quick to dismiss the "for-pay" route. If you put together a lot of presentations, searching all over the Internet for hours to find a free sound for a specific purpose can cost you more than simply shelling out the money to use a convenient, well-indexed for-pay site. Some of the sound files available online are MIDI; others are WAV, MP3, AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), or some other format.

Here are some places to find free sound files:

  • The Clip Organizer: Search for sounds just like you do for clip art in PowerPoint. Select Insert > Movies and Sounds > Sound from Clip Organizer. These all come from Microsoft's online collection of clips.
  • A1 Free Sound Effects : Lots of free sounds for non-commercial use. For commercial use, they're available quite inexpensively.
  • Microsoft Office Sounds : Microsoft provides a nice collection of free sounds to work with Office versions 2000 and higher. Add them to the Clip Organizer for easier retrieval later.

If you know of any other free or inexpensive sound sources online, please post a message on the Message Board alerting your classmates to them.

 Ways to place a sound on a slide   Page 3 of 10

PowerPoint offers many ways you can use sounds:

  • Sound icon: You can insert a sound on a slide as an icon. It shows up as a little speaker icon, and you can double-click the icon during the presentation to play the sound.
  • Associate a sound with a mouse-over or mouse-click action: You can apply a sound to an object so when someone clicks the object or points to it with the mouse, the sound plays.
  • Associate a sound with an animation: You can apply a sound to an object's animation effect so that when the object does something, such as appear or disappear, the sound plays.
  • Record per-slide narration: You can record voice-over narration to associate with each slide so when the slide appears, the narration plays.
  • Add a soundtrack: You can select a CD audio track or MP3 track to play as the presentation is going on. It can either play for a single slide or continue through multiple slides.

Each of these are explained in detail in the following sections.

Inserting a sound icon

You can either insert a sound from the Clip Organizer or from a file on your hard disk. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Display the slide on which you want to place the sound icon.
  2. Select Insert > Movies and Sounds > Sound from Clip Organizer. The Clip Art pane opens, and a list of sound clips appears.

To filter the list to show fewer clips, enter a keywords in the Search for text box, and then click Go.

  1. Click the sound clip you want to insert.
  2. A dialog box appears asking whether you want it to play Automatically or When Clicked. Make your selection. Either way, an icon for it appears in the center of the current slide, as shown in Figure 3-1. You can drag it anywhere you like on the slide.

Figure 3-1: A sound icon inserted on a slide.
Figure 3-1: A sound icon inserted on a slide.

To insert a sound clip from a file, follow these steps:

  1. Display the slide on which you want to place the sound icon.
  2. Select Insert > Movies and Sounds > Sound from File. The Insert Sound dialog box appears.
  3. Navigate to the folder containing the sound clip, select it, and then click OK to insert it.
  4. A dialog box appears asking whether you want it to play Automatically or When Clicked. Make your selection. Either way, an icon for it appears on the center of the current slide. You can drag it anywhere on the slide, or you can drag it completely off the slide to hide it. (However, you would not be able to click it during the presentation in that case.)

After inserting a sound icon, switch to Slide Show view to test it.

If you change your mind about your Automatically or When Clicked choice, display the Custom Animation task pane by selecting it from the task pane menu. The sound is set up there as a custom-animated object. Select the sound, and then set the Start setting to On Click (to make it clickable) or After Previous (to make it play automatically).

Want the sound to repeat?

From the Custom Animation task pane, right-click the effect and select Timing. In the dialog box that appears, you can set a Repeat value. It can be a number (for the number of times to repeat it) or it can be Until Next Click or Until End of Slide. Alternatively, you can right-click the sound icon, select Edit Sound Object, and then check the Loop until stopped checkbox to make it play continuously.

 Advanced Sound Controls   Page 4 of 10

Here are a couple of ways to fine-tune your sound clip playback.

Specifying start and end points

There might be times when you want to start a sound clip from some point other than the beginning. For example, maybe you recorded a really good sound clip but the first five seconds are garbled or contain something inappropriate.

Professionals typically edit sounds in a third-party editing program rather than trying to edit them in PowerPoint. However, you can use the following in PowerPoint to set up rough start and stop points:

  1. From the Custom Animation task pane, right-click the sound clip and select Effect Options. The Play Sound dialog box appears.
  2. In the Start playing area, select one of these options:
From Beginning: To use the default play mode
From Last Position: To pick up where you left off when you stopped it earlier
From time: To enter the number of seconds into the clip that it should begin; for example, in Figure 3-2, a 3-second delay is configured

Figure 3-2: Specify start and stop points for the sound if desired.
Figure 3-2: Specify start and stop points for the sound if desired.

  1. In the Stop Playing area, select one of these options:
On click: To stop the sound with the next mouse click
After current slide: To stop the sound when the slide is replaced by another onscreen or when the clip finishes playing the specified number of times
After ____slides: To enter a number of slides after which the sound should stop playing
  1. After you're satisfied with your selections, click OK.
Specifying the sound volume

When you give your presentation, you need to specify an overall volume for it through the computer's volume control in Windows. However, sometimes you might want one sound to be louder or softer in comparison to the others.

To change the volume for a specific sound, right-click its icon and select Edit Sound Object. The Sound Options dialog box appears. Click the speaker icon in the dialog box to display a volume slider, as shown in Figure 3-3, and then drag it up or down as appropriate.

Figure 3-3: The Sound Options dialog box.
Figure 3-3: The Sound Options dialog box.

The sound plays at a consistent volume throughout the duration of the clip; you can't make it play louder or softer at different points. If you need that capability, use a sound-editing program on the clip before inserting it into PowerPoint.

Audio formats

The volume control in the Sound Options dialog box works only for certain audio formats, even though the control appears to be adjustable regardless of the clip's format. The sound volume setting works for AIF, AIFF, AIFC (Audio Interchange File), AU (Audio), M3U (MP3 Playlist File), SND (Encoded Audio Format), and WMA (Windows Media Audio) formats, but is ignored for CD audio, WAV, MIDI, MP2 (Moving Picture Experts Group Layer-2 Audio), MP3, and RMI (Resource Interchange File Format MIDI) formats.

 Making sounds play without icons   Page 5 of 10

Placing a sound icon on a slide is not the most glamorous way of including a sound, is it? Most people creating presentations don't want that sound icon on the slide. There are some ways around this. One way is to set it up to play automatically, and then hide the sound icon under some other object, but there are more graceful ways than that to accomplish the same thing. The next two sections look at icon-free sound playing options.

Setting up mouse-over or mouse-click sounds

If you want the sound to play only when you click, you can't very well hide it underneath another object. So instead, you attach the sound clip to that other object, so that the object itself substitutes for the sound icon.

You can attach sound to an object so that it plays either when the mouse pointer rolls over the object (Mouse Over) or when the mouse pointer clicks the object (Mouse Click).

To associate a sound with an object, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the object and select Action Settings. The Action Settings dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Mouse Click or Mouse Over tab, depending on your preference.
  3. Check the Play sound checkbox.
  4. Open the Play sound drop-down list and select a sound effect from the default set that PowerPoint provides, as shown in Figure 3-4. You can also select Other Sound (at the bottom of the list) to browse for another sound clip you want to use.

Figure 3-4: Action Settings dialog box, Play sound drop-down list.
Figure 3-4: Action Settings dialog box, Play sound drop-down list.

  1. After selecting the sound and adjusting any other options you want, click OK.
  2. Test the sound in Slide Show view.

The sound files that appear on the list in the Action Settings dialog box are stored in Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\MEDIA. If you want some of your own sound clips to appear on this list, copy them into that folder.

Associate a sound with a transition or animation

When you associate a sound with a transition or animation, the sound plays automatically whenever the transition or animation occurs.

A transition is a movement from one slide to the next. To assign a sound to a transition, follow these steps:

  1. Select Slide Show > Slide Transition. The Slide Transition task pane opens.
  2. Open the Sound drop-down list and select a sound effect, or select Other Sound and browse for some other sound clip, as shown in Figure 3-5.

Figure 3-5: The Slide Transition task pane, Sound drop-down list.
Figure 3-5: The Slide Transition task pane, Sound drop-down list.

An animation is the movement of an individual object on a slide. It can move onto the slide (Entrance), do something while it's there (Emphasis), or leave the slide (Exit). Lesson 4 covers these animation effects, but let's quickly look just at the sound portion of them now.

To assign a sound to an animation effect, follow these steps:

  1. Select Slide Show > Custom Animation. The Custom Animation task pane opens.
  2. Apply an effect to an object. (You'll learn this in Lesson 4.)
  3. In the task pane, right-click the effect you just created and select Effect Options. A dialog box for the selected effect appears.
  4. Open the Sound drop-down list and select the desired sound, as shown in Figure 3-6.

Figure 3-6: Sound drop-down list for a specific object.
Figure 3-6: Sound drop-down list for a specific object.

  1. Click OK to close the dialog box.
 Add a music soundtrack   Page 6 of 10

Adding a CD audio clip to a slide is much like adding a regular sound clip. You place the clip on the slide, and a little CD icon appears that lets you activate the clip. Then you can set properties for the clip to make it play exactly the way you want. It's different, however, because the audio CD must be in the CD drive of the computer that you're using to present the show. You can't use CD audio tracks in presentations that you plan to distribute on CD or over the Internet because the computers on which it will run will not have the audio CD.

If you need to include audio from a CD in a presentation that will be shown on a PC without access to the original audio CD, however, you can record a part of the CD track as a WAV file using Windows Sound Recorder or some other audio-recording utility. Keep in mind, however, that WAV files can be extremely large. To keep the size smaller, consider using Windows Media Player to rip the track from the CD to your hard disk as an MP3 or WMA clip, and then insert that clip as your soundtrack.

To place a CD icon on a slide, follow these steps:

  1. Put the desired audio CD in your CD drive.
  2. Select Insert > Movies and Sounds > Play CD Audio Track. The Insert CD Audio dialog box appears.
  3. Enter the starting track number in the Start at track box under Clip selection, as shown in Figure 3-7.

Figure 3-7: Insert CD Audio dialog box; set up a CD soundtrack.
Figure 3-7: Insert CD Audio dialog box; set up a CD soundtrack.

  1. Enter the ending track number in the End at track box. If you want to play only a single track, the Start at track and End at track numbers should be the same.

If the End at Track appears as 1 with a time of 00:00 seconds, PowerPoint is not correctly reading your CD. Remove and reinsert it in the drive. If you have two CD drives, try putting the CD in the other one. On some systems, PowerPoint sees the CD drive with the lower drive letter only.

  1. If you want to begin the starting track at a particular spot other than the beginning, enter that spot's time in the time box for that line.
  2. The end time that appears for the End at track is the total number of seconds from the starting point to the end of the specified track. If you want to end the last track earlier than that, decrease that number of seconds.
  3. Click OK. A message appears asking whether you want it to play Automatically or When Clicked. Make your selection.
  4. The CD icon now appears in the center of the slide. Drag it elsewhere if needed, or drag it off the slide completely (provided you do not need to click it to play it).
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 Making a CD soundtrack continue across multiple slides   Page 7 of 10

By default, a CD soundtrack plays only when the slide on which its icon appears is displayed onscreen. If you want the CD to continue to play across multiple slides, there's some extra setup required:

  1. Right-click the CD icon and select Custom Animation. The Custom Animation task pane opens.
  2. In the task pane, right-click the CD clip and select Effect Options. The Play CD Audio dialog box appears with the Effect tab on top.
  3. In the Stop playing clip section, enter 999 in the After ___ slides box, as shown in Figure 3-8. Click OK.

Figure 3-8: The Play CD Audio dialog box.
Figure 3-8: The Play CD Audio dialog box.

When another track plays, the first one stops regardless of its After ___ slides setting. For example, suppose you have a 30-slide presentation and you want to play tracks 2, 4, and 6 from your CD, each for 10 slides. On slide 1, you insert track 2 and set its custom animation to stop playing after 999 slides. Then you do the same for track 4 on slide 11 and track 6 on slide 21. Don't worry about the tracks playing over the top of each other -- they won't. However, file-based sound files such as WAV do play on top of each other, so you would not typically layer them in this way.

You can play any number of tracks from a single CD using a single icon on the slide, as long as they're contiguous and you play them in their default order. If you need non-contiguous tracks from the CD, or in a different order, you must place each track individually on the slide and then control their order with Custom Animation (or by putting them on different slides).

Remember that you can drag the icons off the edge of the slides if you don't want the icons to show up in the presentation.

Using a soundtrack in a web-based presentation

In a Web presentation, you obviously can't use CD audio. Instead you must use a digital music file (such as an MP3 or WMA file). Insert the digital audio clip in the presentation, and then save the presentation in Web form (File > Save as Web Page). When you save your Web files to the server, make sure you also save the digital audio clip in the same location.

One glitch with a soundtrack in a Web presentation is that the music plays on the first slide only, and then it stops. To force it to play throughout all slides, you must manually edit the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) file fullscreen.html, which is created when you save a presentation in Web format. Edit it with an HTML editor (or plain-text editor such as Notepad), adding the following line between the <html> and <head> tags at the beginning:

<bgsound src="music.wma" loop=infinite>

Substitute the actual name of the music file for music.wma.

 Recording sounds and narration   Page 8 of 10

Most PCs have a microphone jack on the sound card. If you have a microphone, you can record your own sounds. They can be short, simple effects or full-blown voice-over narration.

Recording sounds

To record a short sound effect or comment, use the Record Sound feature in PowerPoint:

  1. Display the slide on which the sound should appear.
  2. Select Insert > Movies and Sounds > Record Sound.
  3. In the Record Sound dialog box, type a name in the Name box, as shown in Figure 3-9.

Figure 3-9: Record a short sound clip with Record Sound.
Figure 3-9: Record a short sound clip with Record Sound.

  1. Get your microphone ready, and then click the Record button (the red circle).
  2. When you're finished recording, click the Stop button (the black square).
  3. Click the Play button (the black triangle) to make sure the sound is okay.
  4. Click OK to place the sound on the slide.
Should you record narration?

Voice-over narration is not suitable for every situation. You normally wouldn't want it for a live show, for example, and most presentations you distribute over the Web should be self-evident enough that the audience won't need narration. (Lots of people find sound on Web pages annoying, too.)

In some cases, however, narration is the perfect choice. For example, suppose you're creating a Photo Album show with nothing but pictures. A voice-over narration can explain each picture.

Wait to record the narration until your presentation is finalized, so the narration matches the slide content accurately. If you make changes to a slide after recording narration, preview the presentation to make sure it still makes sense.

 Preparing to record narration   Page 9 of 10

The first time you record narration, you'll need to go through the preparatory steps described in the next few sections. Then for future recordings, you can skip directly to the recording process.

Adjusting the microphone level

To start recording narration, follow these steps:

  1. Select Slide Show > Record Narration. The Record Narration dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Set Microphone Level button. The Microphone Check dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3-10.

Figure 3-10: Microphone Check dialog box.
Figure 3-10: Microphone Check dialog box.

  1. Read the text that appears into the microphone, enabling PowerPoint to set the optimal level. You can also set the recording level by manually dragging the slide bar, but this is not recommended because you do not know which setting is appropriate without testing the microphone.
  2. Click OK to return to the Record Narration dialog box.
Selecting a recording quality

Recording quality has a direct relationship to file size. The higher the quality, the larger the file. The three preset qualities are Telephone (low), Radio (medium), and CD (high). You can also create your own custom quality settings by selecting a certain format and attributes. The default quality is Low, but it may appear as [untitled] in the Record Narration dialog box.

To select a recording quality, follow these steps:

  1. If the Record Narration dialog box is not already open, select Slide Show > Record Narration to open it.
  2. Observe the Quality setting in the Current Recording Quality section of the dialog box. If needed, click Change Quality.
  3. In the Sound Selection dialog box, open the Name list and select one of the preset qualities. If you want the recording in a certain format or with certain attributes, select them from the Format or Attributes lists, as shown in Figure 3-11.

Figure 3-11: Select a recording quality.
Figure 3-11: Select a recording quality.

  1. Click OK to close the Sound Selection dialog box.
Linking or embedding the narration files

By default, narration is embedded in the PowerPoint file, so it travels with the file when you distribute it. This has pros and cons to it. It not only makes the file much larger, but it also makes it more conveniently portable. On the other hand, linking the narration gives you the opportunity to edit the narration files in a sound-editing application outside of PowerPoint afterward, and then having the updated versions play in PowerPoint automatically.

If you want to link rather than embed the narration, check the Link narrations in checkbox in the Record Narration dialog box. Then click the Browse button to select a location in which to store the narration. Try to store the narration file in the same folder as the presentation file if possible; this makes the path to it relative, so if you move both files to another location, the link will still work.

 Recording the narration   Page 10 of 10

After performing any setup required from the preceding sections, you're now ready to do the actual recording. You can record narration for the entire presentation at once or for an individual slide. The latter is especially useful if you need to replace the narration for a slide because of a recording error or a change to the slide's content.

Recording for the entire presentation

If the first slide of the presentation is selected when you open the Record Narration dialog box, shown in Figure 3-12, simply click OK to start recording.

Figure 3-12: The Record Narration dialog box.
Figure 3-12: The Record Narration dialog box.

The first slide appears, and you're off and running. Speak into the microphone, and then click to advance to the next slide when ready. Keep going to the end of the presentation.

If another slide is selected when you open the dialog box, when you click OK, you're prompted to select whether you want to begin recording with the Current Slide or the First Slide. Click First Slide to begin.

When you get to the last slide, the screen goes black and a message appears prompting you to press Esc. When you do so, a dialog box appears reminding you that narrations have been saved for each slide and asking whether you want to save the timings as well. Timings are automatic transitions between slides that make the slides automatically advance just as you advanced them when you were narrating. Usually, the answer here is yes, but it depends on your specific needs.

Recording for an individual slide

It can be a challenge to record the narration perfectly for an entire presentation all at once. You may want to go back and change the narration for individual slides. To do so, select the slide that you want to rerecord, and then select Slide Show > Record Narration. Change any settings, and click OK. When the dialog box asks you to select between Current Slide and First Slide, click Current Slide. When you're finished recording for that slide, press Esc.

Deleting a slide's narration

After you add the narration to slides, a little speaker icon appears at the bottom of each one. You can double-click the icon to preview the narration at any time. To remove the narration from a slide, simply delete that icon.

Moving on

In this lesson, you learned about the many ways to include sound in a presentation.

Before you move on, do the assignment and quiz. Don't forget to post a message on the Message Board if you have any questions.

In Lesson 4, you'll explore custom animation in much greater detail, including how to layer and sequence animation effects.

Congratulations on completing the lesson! Don't forget the following: