How to Design an Effective Graphical Abstract in PowerPoint

I previously created a how-to video explaining what graphical abstracts are and provided some examples, which can be seen here. In this video update, I cover three characteristics that will make your graphical abstract more effective and offer another example of how to craft one in PowerPoint.

How to Record a PowerPoint Presentation with Screencapture Software (Screenflow)

Many of us give talks at conferences and seminars, but these presentations are only seen once by a limited audience. What if you could record your presentations so that other people can easily access and view them? Having a recorded presentation (aka screencast) allows you to post it as a video on your website or send it to someone interested in your topic.

In the following tutorial, I show how to create a video of a slide presentation in which your voice is recorded along with a full-screen image of your slides. You will need three items to make a high quality recording of a presentation:

1. A slideshow created with PowerPoint or a similar application. Compile your presentation as you normally would for a talk and write out the script so that you can deliver your talk smoothly. You may need to practice beforehand so that it does not sound like you are reading.

2. Some type of screen capture software such as Quicktime Pro (Mac), Screenflow (Mac), or Camtasia Studio (PC or Mac) to record your computer screen, your voice, and your image (if you wish). In my tutorial, I will be using Screenflow, which is for the Mac, but the principle is the same for all these applications. These all record whatever is visible on your computer screen along with any audio. You can also record your own image with the built-in camera on your computer. Your image then can be inserted into a picture-in-picture window within your presentation so that the viewer sees you along with your slides.

3. A decent microphone to record the audio. The built-in microphones on most computers are not that good. The audio quality of your presentation will be greatly improved if you use a good external microphone (see previous post).

You also need a way to share your presentation once you’ve finished. The simplest way is to upload your finished file to a video-sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo (see this post that explains what to consider in making this decision). If you are concerned about copyright, then be sure to include a watermark on your video file (or on your slides). Once published, you can take the embed code for your video and insert it into your website or send the link to someone (instead of the file, which likely will be too large to email).

This is a great way to create a permanent record of your oral presentations. You can also create lessons to augment a course you are teaching or record class lectures for students to review as many times as they wish. There are lots of possibilities. Virtually anything that you can show on your computer screen can be captured this way and published as a video.

Be sure to select the HD version and full-screen for best viewing (direct link):

Are you interested in learning more techniques like this? If so, check out The Scientist Videographer eBook, which is an electronic guidebook packed with information, tips, and tutorials and designed for the 21st century scientist, teacher, and student. Available in iTunes Store (fully interactive version for iPad, iPhone, & Mac), Smashwords (text version), and Amazon Kindle (text version).

How to Remove the Background from an Image (Part 2)

This is the second part of the Adobe Photoshop (CS5) tutorial in which I show how to remove the background from an image when that background is not a solid color but is instead a more complex image.  I provide several examples of images with different types of backgrounds and then show different techniques for handling these situations.

Once you master these very easy techniques, you will then be poised to create more professional looking montages in your videos or even to begin creating some simple animations.

Here is the video tutorial (for best viewing, select the HD version and full-screen options (see menu bar at bottom of player window):

How to Remove the Background from an Image (Part 1)

In this post, I introduce a tutorial I created to show how to use Adobe Photoshop (CS5) to remove the background from an image.

Have you ever wondered how people superimpose graphs, isolated images, clip art, and other graphics onto another image so that they both have the same background?  You might wish to layer a series of images of plants or animals, for example, onto a map or a diagram so that they all share a common background.  To do this, you will have to delete the background of the original photographs (left-hand image below) so that when you layer the images onto a base photograph, they all have the same background (right-hand image below):

How is this done?  In the following tutorial, I show how easy it is to remove the background from this type of image in Photoshop.  This technique is a precursor to developing animations and montages of images in a video….so that the result looks professional.

Take a look (for best viewing, select the HD version and full-screen options (see menu bar at bottom of player window):

How to Create Animations for your Science Videos with PowerPoint: Part Two

This is the second part of the tutorial on using PowerPoint to create simple effective animations for your movie projects. In part one, I covered how to set up your slides in sequence to create the animation. In part two, I finish up by showing how to export your project as a movie and then import it into your movie-editing program (for best viewing, select the HD version and full-screen options (see menu bar at bottom of player window).

Animations can greatly enhance your videos, providing a way to better visualize concepts or techniques. In future tutorials, I’ll show how to use more sophisticated applications to create animations that will make your videos look more professional.