CODEC stands for Coder /Decoder. It is the software used to turn movies from static frames into digital data that software can display. It compacts the data so the files don't take up as much space on a hard drive and so they are easier to transfer from one machine to another.
Such a simple concept, yet it causes so many problems for those of us in the PowerPoint world. There are literally hundreds of different CODECs in use. Each video device company has developed their own CODECs and so have several software companies.
Dave Wilson maintains The Almost Definitive FOURCC Definition List “ Video Codec List. This list contains information on the history of data conversion and compression for the video world. His site can be found at http://www.fourcc.org/indexcod.htm
SigGraph.org also has a list of CODECs at http://www. siggraph .org/education/materials/HyperGraph/video/codecs/Default.htm
Remember the problems Daniel's class was having with movies that would play on some computers but not on others? The problem was the movies had been encoded using different CODECs, and not all the CODECs were available on the school's computers.
There are two ways to fix CODEC problems: Move the CODEC with the presentation or use a standard CODEC.
Moving and installing the right CODEC with the movie seems to me like a gigantic hassle. Thanks to an ingenious group on the web, there is a place to download all of the most popular CODECs at once. The site contains links to a full CODEC version and a light version containing only the most popular of the popular CODECs. The URL is http://www.divx-digest.com/software/nimo_pack.html.
Converting the movies to a standard CODEC is an extra step, but can eliminate problems for users of the presentation, if run on multiple machines. The most standard ones are DIV-X CODECs and AVI CODECs.
There was a time when there were only two DIV-X CODECS, the CODECs for MPEG-4 and newer MPEG versions. Unfortunately, now there are many DIV-X CODECs and more are developed all the time. Because of this, a company named Stoik has developed a free program that converts many of the non-standard CODECs to a standard AVI CODEC. The program can be found near the bottom of http://www.stoik.com/downloads/downloads_frm.htm.
Another good source of consistently useful, correct and up-to-date CODECs compatible with PowerPoint is Microsoft. Go to the Microsoft site and search for "CODEC download." You are provided with a list of the pages on the site containing the most current CODECs for Windows machines.
All versions of PowerPoint 2000 and later support Flash movies. Flash movies are created using a standardized format developed by MacroMedia. Instead of using the movie interface to run Flash movies, PowerPoint uses ActiveX components . This is good because Flash movies do not depend on system configurations to run. However, the computer running the Flash movie must have the Flash Player installed. Download it from the Macromedia site at http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash.
There are two great sources for information on Flash and PowerPoint. Both sites talk about both using Flash movies in PowerPoint and converting PowerPoint presentations to Flash movies.
The first site is Rick Turoczy's Flash Geek site. It can be found at: http://www.flashgeek.com. This is THE resource for all Flash and PowerPoint issues and information. This site contains tutorials on everything including how to link to the files and have them run, how to rewind the files and how to make the Flash files show on the projector.
The second site is Geetesh Bajah's Indezine. Geetesh has written many articles about PowerPoint and Flash. The list of articles can be found at http://www.indezine.com/articles/index.html. As you skim through the list of articles, you will find many on the Flash/PowerPoint topic. All are good reading.