Friday, November 8, 2013

Doing a presentation with an iPad

Yesterday I gave a presentation at Autodesk University Extension Mexico City, the schedule wasn't followed as usually happens here in Mexico, my conference started 50 min late because delays on the previous presentations, the VGA cable of the projector was damaged and the colors weren't properly displayed; I'm trully amazed why they have pretty good projectors with HDMI but they're still using VGA cables, but anyway, everything else was a big success, the room was full, and I met some interesting people.

Autodesk gave us a MS PowerPoint template to use it, and we had to upload the presentation file to a web server a couple of weeks before so it can be previously checked and loaded into the computer intended for the conference. So I uploaded the template to Google Drive to work it online, so I can get help from others here at Cluster, then I downloaded it, and opened it in MS PowerPoint (yuck!) in order to embed the videos that I wanted to show. But you know, x264 mp4 720p videos doesn't run properly when embedded into a PowerPoint presentation, so they said I can bring my computer. Cool, that meant that I could do it with my Fedora powered laptop using Libre Office, but you know, this time I wanted to carry something lighter and even more practical to do a presentation, so I looked to the iPad I won at Siggraph 2012 at the RenderMan User Group raffle, you know a tablet seems to be the perfect device for doing presentations.

I've managed to do a couple of presentations this year at Siggraph using this iPad, I purchased the Keynote App, the VGA and HDMI conectors, but instead of Keynote I had to use the Slide Shark App with its free web account (I invited some friend in order to get more storage for free) because Keynote on iPad didn't have the feature to work on 16:9 aspect ratio presentations and the displays on the booths I was going to present were Full HD and Slide Shark does.

The problem with Slide Shark is that after you upload your .pptx file to their website, it compresses first before is being downloaded to the iPad, and there is a big quality penalty on this process which I hated. For a just text presentation with some illustrations is perfectly fine, but when you are presenting renders that should look awesome, it's not good.

So this time I wanted to give the iPad a second chance. For my surprise there was an upgrade version for the Keynote App with supposedly the 16:9 aspect ratio feature included, but in order to get it I had to upgrade the iPad to iOS7 which I was trying to avoid (I don't like it, specially the icon colors). Even though the Autodesk template was 4:3 I wanted to try the new Keynote for future presentations, and yes, now it supports 16:9 presentations with proper full screen coverage output.

Now the next challenge was how to get the presentation file and all the videos into the iPad without touching the iTunes. Yes, I hate the iTunes not to mention It doesn't run on Linux, even though I have a Mac mini at home my goal is to keep away from iTunes as far as possible, and I've manged to do it so far.

Using the new Keynote on iCloud (beta) wasn't too hard to put the .pptx file into the iPad, it works like Google Apps, and after the conversion you get it synced into your Keynote App on the iPad, pretty straightforward.

For the Videos I downloaded these 2 Apps (they have free versions)

The first one is a great media player that uses FFmpeg libraries, which makes me very happy, because it is widely used here at Cluster Studio, but besides being able to play a lot of video and audio formats on the iPad it has a capablitity to upload content via WebDav and FTP.

But the video files must reside on the Camera Roll area in the iPad in order for Keynote to see them, so the next step is to send them to MyMedia App

Once on My Media, it has a feature to save them to the Camera Roll 

After this you can delete the videos from My Media, and if you want it too from OPlayer HD
Now you can use them inside you Keynote presentation and they run smoothly.
I borrow an iPod to change the slides remotely with the Keynote Remote App (I own an Android Phone).

If you have another workaround to this, or know another App that can do both steps at once, let us know.