Broken Quicktime exports from Keynote

I have been frustrated all last night trying to export a project for the local school from a Keynote presentation into a Quicktime file with voiceovers. The process simply does not work and I kept banging my head into the wall until I found this excellent post.

I have absolutely nothing to add except two very small corrections, so here is the post text verbatim with the highlighted amendments:

Most all packages allow for the recording of narration as you run through the show, which is useful but stressful because you have to be ready to do all the slides in a single pass. Keynote says editing is possible, but due to a hardware problem I was unable to test this.

As a professional presenter, it’s far more powerful to record individual sound files for each slide, making edits and adjustments much simpler. You can do this with Keynote and Powerpoint, and save the presentations for playback although Keynote does a much better job of embedding the audio and slides in a single file.

But the export sucks. The only DOCUMENTED way to preserve the slide timings is apparently to have recorded narration instead of embedding an audio clip per slide. This is stupid and bad design.

Keynote 09 has unfortunately followed a recent Apple trend of removing functionality while adding some. Apple and Adobe are fighting about Flash on the iPhone so Flash export is gone from Keynote 09. I don’t factually know this is the reason, but it sounds good. Anyway on to the solution.

What You’ll Need
Keynote 08 or Keynote 09
Garageband 08 or Garageband 09

1. Whatever application you use, you want to get your file into Keynote and saved as a Keynote file. If you have an audio file attached per slide that’s fine. You can skip to step 3

2. If you don’t have this, use Garageband to assemble a single audio file by inserting your voiceovers in order. Once complete, in GarageBand, export Song to Disk. I like AAC format.

This method can also allow you to include music, loops, zingers and all that kind of thing, without the limitations imposed by Keynote.

3. Now note down the duration of each of your individually recorded slide voiceovers. Set the duration of the slide transition delay to the length of the voiceover for that slide. If you’ve added loops or music be sure to take that into account. Now is a good time to check your builds and make sure that they work properly and occur at the right time.

4. If you don’t have audio attached, either attach the individual slide recordings to each slide, or if you followed Step 2, go to the first slide in Keynote and open the Inspector and under the documents tab drag the .M4A file exported in step 2 onto the Soundtrack space.

4. Once complete, save your file.

5. With Keynote 3 and Keynote 08 you could export your own timings to a movie by selecting Fixed Time and setting the duration and build timings to zero. Not anymore – thanks Apple for “fixing” this – idiots. In Keynote 09, choose Share | Send to Garageband.

6. Then choose Fixed Time and set the duration and build timings to zero. Fortunately Apple didn’t “fix” this. Make your movie export settings according to your needs and let it rip. This is a VERY SLOW process so have your timings right the first time. Keynote will export to Quicktime, and by default, place the .MOV file in your Movies folder.

7. GarageBand will launch creating a GB project for your recorded presentation with a movie track and an audio track. Save this if you wish, but I don’t recommend re-exporting because the quality will fall with each compression.

8. Now launch the movie in Quicktime Pro and watch it to make sure you got what you expected. I’ve done this several times and it works smoothly.

I did speak to Apple Support about the export challenges and they did put in an enhancement request for better export functionality.

I would like to add my own thanks for whoever is the royal idiot at Apple who’s fixed a perfecty working software. Many, many thanks. Not!

UPDATE: although the workaround provides some relief, it’s nowehere near the perfect solution – for one thing, it won’t allow you to export a full sized movie (24fps full frame) resulting in a meh! product; and sync, while at least working “almost” every time, still screws up timings.

One idea I had myself is whether using KN08 to export could be a fix – my preso is simple enough in terms of transitions etc. so KN08 should be able to open it and export to QT using the old procedure – this test will need to wait until monday, when I can use Marcello’s Mac who never updated iWork…

UPDATE 2: the KN08 export to Quicktime works flawlessly. Lesson therefore is: do NOT replace old Apple software, when you upgrade it, it might have functionality they take out in newer versions. Upgrade, indeed !!

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