Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm not here at the moment, but...

I'm on holiday and paternity leave at the moment, enjoying the French Alps, and learning to live without sleep (I'd love to know when babies biorhythms start to match those of their parents). A couple of days before departing, a colleague in our Human Resources department asked me to deliver a presentation on the corporate intranet (as a communications and knowledge management tool) to our graduate work placement intake...two days into my break.

However, I hesitated to decline as there would not have been anyone to do this in my stead. So, as quickly as possible, I cobbled together a variation of the absentee acceptance common to awards ceremonies ("Kirk Douglas cannot unfortunately be with us today, but he recorded the following message...").

The limiting factors were time and the need for the presentation to be delvered in a known format (as the HR team would be delivering the presentation). However, armed with a couple of pieces of software, a headset and webcam, it was just over an afternoon's work to put together.

  • Microsoft Powerpoint to advance the slideset (using insert > movie and embedding Flash movies using the activeX Flash object and the Flash rewind plug-in);

  • Blueberry software Flashback Express to record the video screen-capture and voice over;

  • A Logitech webcam to record a few short video introductions;

  • Snagit for some static screen captures as slideshow graphics

I settled on using Flashback Express for the main voice-over as I found the quality of Powerpoint's record narration function to be severely limited (although given the time constraints, I didn't have the chance to check out whether this is a known limitation or an indication of my own inexperience with the function).

The great thing is that I was able to hand the HR department - 5 minutes before heading off on holiday - a single package where the only input required from their team was to advance the presentation slide-by-slide. I haven't yet heard how well the presentation went down, but in the absence of available time and a replacement speaker, I would recommend this as a very useful tool, which, once you have got into the screen-casting habit can be very rapid.