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How to Seamlessly Integrate & Advance Looping Video Elements/Segments for Theatrical Presentations/Talks

Have you ever had to give a presentation that involved the playback of a variety of video content based on specific cues/holding patterns or just wanted to advance through such video material smoothly without managing multiple sources or inputs?  Obviously, the ability to do that has an impact on the pacing of your presentation/performance.  Many people are faced with the dilemma of being short on resources–especially if hired to give talks on their own.  Perhaps at one point or another you’ve needed equipment or staffing you couldn’t afford such as a production switcher with play out capabilities, a stage manager, etc. Well, here is a workflow you might want to try the next time you have just such a need…

 

Okay, so I’ll admit, some of what I’m about to share could be assembled and accomplished using software like PowerPoint or Keynote but let’s assume you don’t have access to a computer, or the venue you’re scheduled to present/perform in only has a DVD player connected to a projector as a presentation system.

 

How do you create a foolproof solution that maintains its visual impact?

 

Easy – Author a DVD!

 

The keyword in my description above is workflow. I’m not going to get into the steps it takes to make a DVD but it is possible to accomplish what I’m about to describe using any professional DVD authoring application on the market today. The most challenging part is the thought and logic that go into the program’s pre-production. Think of that step as coming up with a thought process for how you’re going to build and handle your next live action project’s media assets. Consider what the order will be and how the session will flow. This is important because each DVD uses a timeline or track as a form of natural progression. Here’s a case study for just such a solution I provided to an actual client…

 

1) The Need:
To have looping logos appear on the screen between each video segment while a performer interacts with the audience before tossing to the pre-recorded video segments

 

2) The Challenge:
Small budget; small staff to run the show & a tour schedule featuring various venues

 

3) The Solution:
Professionally Authored DVD with 1 Track or Timeline

 

The Solution In-Depth:
The trick to making this workflow a success is to understand the power of organization.  Use chapter markers and timelines/tracks to your advantage. Using a single timeline, all of the video elements can be arranged into the proper sequential order. After doing that, each element should be preceded with a chapter marker. At this point, the key to this particular workflow is understanding how the presentation will advance. For example, let’s say your first video is a looping logo welcoming folks to the venue. Your end action for the chapter 1 marker would be to repeat back to chapter 1. Now, every time the last frame of the welcome loop is reached, the video will repeat itself. It will do this until the user forces a change. How does one trigger such a change? By using the advance or next chapter button on the remote/player front! What that does is essentially move the playhead within the DVD player to the next element in the timeline following the welcome loop (in this case it would be the chapter 2 marker). Let’s say chapter 2 is a show open video. Well, assuming we’d want to return to a different looping element of maybe just the show logo with a slightly altered look once into the presentation following the open, the way you could accomplish that is to set the chapter 2 end action to advance to chapter 3, at which point chapter 3 could loop back to chapter 3 for it’s end action until slides or more video are triggered next.

 

In need of a dramatic start?  One variation I’ll sometimes use when authoring discs for clients with that specific need is a technique that utilizes what I like to call the hidden menu.  Knowing the video content on the disc I’ve been hired to author needs to be started at a specific time, what I’ll do to help the venue/presentation hall out is have the disc sit in a black menu upon first start.  This way the projector can be on and warmed up.  All the operator has to do is press either the play button or enter on the DVD player’s remote in order to trigger playback of the desired video.  This gives the presentation further finesse and avoids the audience seeing either the DVD manufacturer’s splash screen or an obvious menu (both of which I personally find distracting and unprofessional in certain settings such as public meetings/presentations).

 

4) Advantages:

  • Video content can be endlessly looped (making your visuals more dynamic instead of just a static image like in PPT)
  • Transitions are smooth and on cue (helpful for live action)
  • Inexpensive to do if you’re willing to put a little time & thought into the authoring process with the aid of a plan/program rundown
  •  By only moving in one direction (advancing the chapter), it takes a lot of the human error out of the mix, such as cuing the proper sources etc.
  • 1 person (the talent) could run the entire production if necessary (assuming they’d be within IR range of the DVD player and be willing to control it with a remote)
  • Easy to take on the road for use in different venues since all the presenter/performer would require is a DVD player and a projector/screen

 

5) Important Notes:

  • Make sure the DVD player doesn’t display icons or tool tips when buttons are pressed (professional ones usually don’t and consumer ones just take a while to find one that doesn’t if you’re looking to buy one so just be sure to demo it in the store…an important thing to consider after all of the work you may have put into authoring the content so that it’d be seamless and self-triggered)
  • Where this wouldn’t work as smoothly is if the videos to be called up change at a moment’s notice based on interactions with a given audience (in that case a production team with the segments individually cued up might yield the best seamless results, although it is possible to skip back and forth using chapter advance if you can keep a track of your given position on the DVD at any particular time…obviously easier said than done)
  • Having only 1 track or timeline enables the user to navigate through the entire disc with ease

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