YouTubes in PowerPoint

There were two items on our agenda for last Friday’s PowerPoint 2 workshop that we didn’t have sufficient time to cover.  One was using exit effects to make things magically appear in PowerPoint, which I posted on Friday; the other was embedding YouTube videos in a PowerPoint presentation.  First I’ll show how it’s done, and then mention a couple of things that can go wrong.

The embed procedure is pretty simple.  First, locate the video at YouTube.  Click the Share button, and then click the Embed button.  Some time last year YouTube changed from using Object embeds to iframe embeds.  Don’t worry about the terminology, suffice it to say that iframe embeds will not work in PowerPoint, so you also have to check the “Use Old Embed Code” box to get the code that will work.

 get embed code

By default the setting “Show suggested videos when the video finishes” is turned on.  I suggest you turn this option off by unchecking the box.  The suggested videos that pop up are at best distracting.

Below the options illustrated above there are some player size choices, and they vary depending on the source video.  Here is a typical set from a 4:3 aspect ratio video (i.e., 4 wide by 3 high, like an old fashioned TV screen).

4x3 YouTube Choices
4:3 screen YouTube choices

And here are choices from a typical 16:9 aspect ratio video (i.e., like your new widescreen TV screen).

16x9 YouTube Choices
16:9 YouTube screen choices

(The YouTube site player window is by default 16:9, and places black pillar bars next to 4:3 videos).  When you make a YouTube player size selection, the embed code changes to reflect the player size, but this does not affect the player size window in PowerPoint.  What it does affect is the download resolution that you receive from YouTube when the video is played.

Now, after making your choices as illustrated above, copy the embed code that appears in the scrolling window by clicking it and pressing Ctrl-C, or right-clicking it and choosing paste.

Embed Code
YouTube embed code

Now, go to the PowerPoint slide on which you wish to embed the video.  You cannot use the video placeholder for this operation, so I suggest using a title only or blank slide layout.  Go to the Insert tab, click the drop-down uner the Video command, and choose “Video from Web Site…”.

Video From Web Site

A dialog box will appear.  Paste the embed code you copied from YouTube into this dialog box by pressing Ctrl-V or right-clicking and choosing Paste.

Paste Code

Now click Insert, and a 3.33 x 2.5 inch video player will appear centered on the slide.  This is the default player size in PowerPoint, and there is no convenient way to change it.  It corresponds to an old 320 x 240 pixel video player windows (based on the PC’s 96 ppi devault resolution—3.33*96=319.7 and 2.5*96=240).  To change the player window to a definite size, click the window to select it (if it isn’t selected already) then click the Video Tools Format tab, and change dimensions in the Size section of the ribbon.  To double the size of the 320×240 player, making it 640×480, the same as the player you selected in YouTube, change the width to 6.66 and the height to 5.  (By the way, you can launch the Size dialog box and turn off retain-aspect ratio to get a widescreen style player, but this setting will not persist).

Video Player Height Width

Now center the player and you will have a close 1 to 1 correspondence between the YouTube player and the window used to render it in PowerPoint.  It won’t be an exact correspondence because YouTube adds 25 pixels for the controls (the play button, volume button, etc) at the bottom of the video.  PowerPoint calculates this in, reduces the size of the video so that the controls can be added, and renders it in the window, adding pillar bars to the side to account for the reduced dimension because of the controls.

If you are embedding a widescreen video, you can do the math to create the PowerPoint player window close to the actual YouTube player window, but this is more work than most people are willing to do.  They are just as happy to live with pillar bars or letterbox bars (black bars above and below the video) rather than trying to create a player that exactly fits the dimensions of the video, and I’ll have to agree.  As the video plays the YouTube play/pause button works, as does the volume control and the ClosedCaptions button, but the full-screen button does not.  Nor do you have the choice, as you do with a video embedded from a local file, to play it full screen.

You can use the Playback tab of the Video Tools tab to test your video, but note that the editing capabilities of videos embedded from files are NOT available for YouTube videos.  You do, however, have the same player formatting options available.

I cannot, however, recommend relying on YouTube videos within PowerPoint presentations for a couple of reasons.  First, YouTube videos are a moving target, they get removed from YouTube all the time and you can’t count on them being there when you need them.  Secondly, if your internet connection is not very fast it takes time for the workstation from which you are presenting (assuming it has Internet connectivity, of course) to contact YouTube and serve up the video.  In the mean time, you are standing there with nothing on the screen and an awkward gap in your presentation.  This is especially significant in timed talks where you have to deliver your presentation in a very limited time frame.  Finally, and I’ve seen this one bit a few presenters, including yours truly, even though you have rehearsed your presentation time and again at your desktop computer, the computer in the classroom, or wherever, that you are going to be using to present from is not familiar with your presentation.  Meaning, that Microsoft Office, in its zeal to protect you from potentially hazardous macro viruses pops up a warning when your presentation is loaded.  It looks like this:

enable editing

If you don’t notice this (or you are standing at a rostrum and someone else is operating the computer does not notice it) your video will not play.  And even if you (or someone) does notice and clicks Enable Editing before launching the presentation, you will come to the slide with your embedded YouTube video and once again, it will not play.  No matter how long you wait it will not work.  In frustration you escape from the presentation to get back into the PowerPoint editing window and you notice a second warning only visible from there:

enable media content

So not only do you have to tell PowerPoint that it is OK to use this presentation on the current PC, you also have to tell it that it is OK to use external media, and you must do this BEFORE you start the presentation.  This last can vary with security settings, but for typical settings it will be in effect.

If, after all this, you still decide the YouTube video is just too good to pass up, go ahead and embed it, but remember the risks.