I recently downloaded the beta version of Office 2010, which is available as a free download which will expire on 31st October. There are a few new things in PowerPoint, one of which is the ability to save your PPT as a Windows Media file (.wmv). The result is a largish file playable on Windows Media Player as a seamless video; animations stay intact and transitions are done automatically. This is potentially the only real problem with the conversion, as any lingering at the end of a slide is eliminated. It might be more of an issue with slideshows containing lots of click-to-advance animations; the ones I converted were all done on timings apart from slide transitions.
The conversions I made were of the German grammar slideshows I was creating during my ‘sabbatical’ periods and which I originally converted to Flash. I still think this is the preferred output. However, an interesting benefit of converting to .wmv is that you can then upload your videos to sites like YouTube. I’ve not done quite that, probably because YouTube is owned by Google, but have instead uploaded them to blip.tv where the .wmv file is converted to Flash video (.flv), although you can watch in either format. I have embedded a couple of examples above and below which will play if clicked.
Apart from the issue with panicky slide transitions, there is some loss of quality, though not anything too bad. It soon becomes clear that certain colour combinations for text and background which might work in PPT don’t necessarily work outside that format. But this new development is an interesting one and opens up exciting new possibilities for all those old PowerPoints you have filed away somewhere! I think the two important factors are (1) opening up formats more widely useful than the original PPT one, and (2) by holding the videos centrally on YouTube, blip.tv or wherever, you can avoid having to upload them to any VLE course you want them attached to. A simple link will suffice.
Anyway, the rest of the PPT conversions are available here. Unfortunately the drag and drop facility for organising the files stopped working today, so you may find them in rather random order (or not, if it’s been fixed by the time you read this!). There are 23 videos so there are 2 pages (you will arrive on page one of two).