How to Add Video to Your PowerPoint Talk

Have you watched colleagues give a conference talk or seminar containing video clips and wondered how they did it? Or perhaps you’ve tried embedding a video in your PowerPoint presentation, but it did not play well or at all? In a new tutorial, I walk the viewer through the steps to preparing and inserting a video into PowerPoint so that it plays properly. I used PowerPoint Version 2016 and a Mac for the tutorial, but the tools and options covered are also available for PCs.

If you have an earlier version of PowerPoint, some of the options I talked about may not be available. Also, if the host computer (used to project the slideshow) is running an old version (prior to 2013) of PowerPoint, you may have problems playing your embedded videos. The reason is that older versions of Windows and Mac use linking rather than embedding, and the path to the videos may not work. I’ve gotten around this problem (going from a Mac to a PC running older versions) by putting the PowerPoint file in a folder with all the video files (it’s good practice anyway to put all images and videos used in your presentation into a single folder). I transfer the entire folder to the host computer, and most of the time the videos play fine. If that doesn’t work, it may be a problem with the video format/codec not compatible with the host computer. The only fix is to convert all your videos to the format/codec compatible with that computer.

But the best way to avoid playback problems is to use your own computer during your talk.

Yanny vs. Laurel

By now you should have heard about the audio clip in which a spoken word is perceived as “Yanny” or “Laurel” depending on the listener (I hear “Laurel”). Here is a brief video by AsapSCIENCE that concisely explains this auditory illusion and reveals which of the two words was actually recorded.

It’s a good example of how video can be used to explain the science behind a fascinating phenomenon. The creators used an electronic white board to create their video (see this post for a how-to tutorial).

How to Avoid Wind Noise While Filming a Video

You’ve spent the day filming and have recorded reams of footage for your video. Unfortunately, you discover during editing that much of that footage is marred by wind noise. Even clips filmed during a mild breeze sound terrible, with the speaker’s voice almost obscured by the noise. There is not much you can do at this point because it is exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) to edit out wind noise. For this reason, it is essential to take precautions during filming to minimize or avoid the sound of the wind blowing across the microphone.

In the following brief video tutorial, I cover several tips that will help you avoid wind noise in your videos.

Preparing for a Life on Mars and Filming the Experience

An increasing number of scientists and science organizations are using video to show how science is conducted and why scientific research is important to society. Such videos are particularly effective when they not only show what scientists do, but show who scientists are and what motivates them. The video I’ve embedded below explains how a NASA-funded project is studying the effects of isolation on a group of people—in preparation for establishing a colony on Mars.

To make such a video interesting to viewers, the videographer needs to use a variety of perspectives. In the following tutorial, I describe 20 basic camera shots that filmmakers use and that you can easily replicate, even with a smartphone.

How to Film Your Science and Overturn Stereotypes about Scientists

In a previous post, I talked about how the public’s view of science and scientists is skewed toward the laboratory as a primary location where science takes place. I pointed out that for many scientists, their laboratory is a rainforest in Central America, a desert in the US Southwest, the bottom of the Pacific ocean, or a cave in Canada. Yet the layperson’s image is most often of a white-coated scientist working in a sterile laboratory (google “draw a scientist” and see what images you find).

To raise awareness by the public (especially prospective science students), more field scientists need to film where they do their research and post them on media-sharing sites. The video embedded below (Spelunking in Search of Antibiotics) is a good example. It is only two minutes long and required only a brief break during their field trip to film. Yet the message it sends is that scientists work in fascinating places and are often intrepid explorers seeking answers in the most remote corners of our planet.

Such a video is incredibly easy to film and edit with a smartphone. The following tutorial provides a few, basic tips (using an iPhone, but the tips are relevant for all smartphones):