PowerPoint on TV


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A visitor in the PowerPoint newsgroup wanted to know what to consider when preparing a presentation that would be displayed on television screens. Once again, I quote Adam Crowley:

The problem you're up against is that there is a vast difference between the technologies of a computer monitor and a TV monitor.

A few of the most important differences are as follows:
TV monitors work at a fixed resolution - around 720x576, depending on where in the world you are. Computer monitors are capable of variable resolution and many display your work at 1024x768, so video resolution is quite a step down.

Unlike computer monitors TV monitors are interlaced (too complicated to explain here) which has the effect of making thin lines and text shimmer. TV monitors generally (apart from broadcast spec) don't show the full image, so you may lose stuff at the edge of the screen (thus further reducing the amount of available resolution). Some graphics cards do compensate for this by squeezing the image into a window inside the video output - the only way you'll know is to test it.

Some colours, particularly saturated reds and 100% white, flare up on TV monitors. The NTSC (US) video system has a more limited 'legal' colour palette than PAL. You can make pictures safe in Photoshop by using the NTSC colours filter (Filters>Video>NTSC Colours) but in PowerPoint you'll just learn by experience which colours work better than others.

That's a brief summary (although it may not look like it!) and there's nothing you can do about any of those things.

All you can do is create your graphics bearing them in mind - you can make attractive presentations for video display.

Look at TV graphics and note how simple they are. Avoid very thin lines, small text and serif fonts - that will stop things shimmering. Use thick lines, bold text and uncomplicated charts. And experiment with colours - avoid bright reds and bright white (94% white, although it looks grey on a computer monitor, looks like white on a TV monitor and doesn't burn out). Above all it will help you if you can use the TV while creating as you can see straight away what works and what doesn't.

The only other thing is that video has several ways of getting from A to B. Composite, S-Video, RGB and Component are the most common. Composite (one cable + sound) is the lowest quality, S-Video (also one cable but a multiple pin DIN connector that splits the video signal into separate signals) is significantly better. These are the two that you're most likely to be dealing with as RGB and Component are usually only seen on expensive broadcast spec equipment. So if you're using a composite output into the composite input on your TV try using S-Video instead. Or are you plugging the computer's VGA output direct into the TV monitor? If so the TV is doing the scan conversion and you have no control over it.