Play Director movies in PowerPoint presentations

By Geetesh Bajaj, Microsoft MVP and site manager of Indezine: The PowerPoint Ezine and PowerPointed.

Applies to
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 and 2002

With everyone talking about ways to insert Macromedia Flash movies into PowerPoint, you'd think that it would only be a matter of time before similar questions would be raised about inserting Macromedia Director movies into PowerPoint. Nothing could be further from the truth—it's amazing that in months of research, I could not find anything on the Internet on this subject. Finally, I tried to do it myself—and the technique that I followed is detailed below.

Types of file formats and when to use them

Both PowerPoint and Director have complex and numerous file formats. Director formats include .dir, .dxr, .exe., and .dcr files; PowerPoint formats include .ppt, .pot, .pps, .html, and .mht files (the last two for Web presentations).

The editing format in Director is a .dir file. After you have a complete project, you can choose to save it as a protected .dxr file, create a stand-alone .exe file (or projector, in Director parlance), or convert to the ShockWave Director format, a .dcr file, which is used mainly to deliver content online.

The default format for PowerPoint is the .ppt file. A .pot file is a PowerPoint Design Template format, and a .pps file is the PowerPoint Show extension. (The .pps extension is actually the same format as .ppt, but it tells PowerPoint to open the file as a slide show, instead of in editing view.) In addition, since the 2000 version, PowerPoint has an .html and .mht file format, rendered satisfactorily by Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later.

Finally, third-party tools enable you to export an entire PowerPoint presentation to the Flash .swf file format. And you can export presentations to the QuickTime .mov file format by using PowerPoint on the Macintosh. Both .swf and .mov files can be imported straightaway into Director.

The .dcr file format: For incorporating Director content into PowerPoint

Director uses the .dcr file format to deliver Web content. It's similar to—although more advanced than—the other Macromedia Web file format, .swf, which belongs to its Flash program.

The only way to incorporate Director content into PowerPoint is to use .dcr files from Director. To convert your Director content to the .dcr file format, you can refer to your Director manual or Help menu. Also, the Macromedia Web site includes an excellent introduction to Shockwave Publishing.

Make sure that you have the Shockwave ActiveX Control

Many systems that have the Shockwave Flash control installed also have another, similar control installed as well. This is actually the Macromedia Director Shockwave control, known as the Shockwave ActiveX® Control.

The prerequisites and techniques for using both controls are strikingly similar—all you need to realize is that the Director control is separate from the Flash control.

To install or update your Director control, visit the Macromedia Shockwave Download Page.

After you've installed the control, you can preview any .dcr file just by dragging it from Windows® Explorer into an open Internet Explorer window.

Insert Director content into PowerPoint

Before you begin inserting Director .dcr file content into PowerPoint, save the .dcr file in the same folder as the actual PowerPoint .ppt file. This way, you will not have to enter the full path later.

  1. Open or create a new PowerPoint presentation, and then save it in the same folder as your .dcr file.
  2. On the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Control Toolbox to open the Control toolbar.
  3. Near the bottom of the Control toolbar, click the More Controls button, represented by a hammer and a wrench, to see a list of available ActiveX controls.
  4. In the list, click the Shockwave ActiveX option. The pointer becomes a cross-hair.
  5. Draw a rectangle anywhere on the screen.

Don't bother about the size and location now; you'll take care of that later. Your rectangle is invisible because it's only a placeholder. If you haven't clicked anywhere, you'll see that it's surrounded by eight sizing handles.

  1. Right-click anywhere inside the rectangle, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  2. In the Properties dialog box, click the blank cell next to the SRC option, and then type the name of your .dcr file.

You don't need to enter any path because the .dcr file is saved in the same folder as the presentation.

 Note   Unfortunately, the control automatically picks up the full path of the file, so you will have to edit the path if you change folders, drives, or computers. You'll notice that the control does pick up the actual length and width coordinates of your .dcr file in the Properties dialog box, although these are not reflected on the actual slide.

  1. Position and resize the control as required on the actual slide.

You're done! You may want to try out the many other options included in the Properties dialog box.

Going further: Experiment with 3-D and audio options

Newer versions of Director from Macromedia have more abilities up their sleeves. Foremost is the new 3-D engine, which enables walkthroughs and close-ups in 3-D space. Using such Director content in PowerPoint could be extremely interesting, opening up a hitherto unexplored horizon. Another interesting capability in Director 8.5 is its native support for RealAudio, which opens up possibilities for hybrid PowerPoint, Director, and RealAudio Web presentations.

About the author: Geetesh Bajaj is based in India and has been involved with presentations through the use of color and design. A Microsoft PowerPoint MVP since 2001, Geetesh believes that presentations are a sum of elements—each element can be fascinating—with all their abstracts, concepts, and designs. Geetesh creates presentations and templates professionally and also manages the Indezine: The PowerPoint Ezine and PowerPointed web sites.

Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003