One of the newish platforms for creating presentation materials is Biteable – so-called because you can build your presentation from manageable or bitesized chunks of videos. Prezi, the 3D presentation software, has gone from being the radical new thing in visuals-based presenting, to being established but certainly not market-dominant.
Still the same problems with Prezi
The problem is that the “zooming” 3D movements created in Prezi can be disorienting, especially if the designer of the “prezi” had a heavy hand. Also, there is a trick to matching the zooming to the narrative: If, for instance, you had a theme of progression through a step process, you could show that by moving from object to object into the distance. If you had a subject about something repetitive, you could move from point to point in a circle. Random, meaningless movements for the sake of movement just looked bad.
Prezi has now reverted somewhat to the world of “normal” presenting by including “conversational presenting” as an option. This is simply a way to pause between movements in your visuals to talk to your audience. Also, in May 2017, Prezi acquired Infogram, a data visualization company.
Now add infographics to your prezi
Infogram specifically allows users to create infographics – those tables and charts commonly used in PowerPoint. Users are redirected to Infogram from their Prezi page, and they can then use their Infogram graphics in their prezis. Infogram is specifically to create charts, maps, graphics and dashboards to present sets of information. Infogram says they have more than 35 interactive chart templates and over 500 maps to choose from. They might be pretty but you can do the same in PowerPoint and Excel, not to mention Visio. You just have to learn to combine words and numbers with images. Like with Prezi, you have a free trial period and then you have to pay to subscribe and use the platform and all the functions.
Prezis are not for in-depth info
Even with the link-up to Infogram, Prezi is still mainly used for rah-rah first impression and quick-view presentations, in TED talks, marketing, sales and to a certain extent, education. It falls over real quick if you have to have a content-heavy subject – anything related to Engineering or Manufacturing for instance. For example: the final pitch for the Engineering for a coal-powered power plant that I worked on had 51 slides (no more than 5 bullet points per slide). Another one that I prepared for a pitch for design of an Active Water Treatment Plant was 22 slides (limited by the end client). There is no way that all this information could have been made to fit into the one prezi “canvas”.
What’s new in visual presentations?
In view of all that, there are new presentation platforms that designers and users should be aware of. (For your info, here is the latest report from Prezi on trends in presentation and audience receptivity. It’s their report, so they could be a bit biased: 2018_State_of_Presentations_ebook) One of the newer options is Biteable.
Incorporated in Jan. 2014, the Biteable Pty Ltd. team is based in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. In 2016, the company was declared the winner in the Start-up of the Year category in the Tasmanian section of the Australian iAwards. So it’s basically been going for four years. Adaptability and simplicity are the core features of the suite, “…whether it is a young student who has to deliver a school assignment or a small business”, according to Tommy Fotak, CTO and co-founder.
Biteable is about videos
(Above: Screen shots of the range of videos and animated clips available on Biteable)
The objective of any presentation is to grab the audience with appealing visuals and to keep them engaged:
“The ways in which we consume content has begun to change. Any time spent wallowing in the mire that is social media show how visual the information is with which we now engage. Yes, there are words aplenty, but there are pictures and videos too. The barrage of information that’s thrown at us, means that plain words on a page are becoming less likely to be read. People struggle to find the time, inclination or powers of concentration, to wade through pages of dense text. Words find themselves in competition with pictures and less is often more.” – Brian Bilston, Poet Laureate of Twitter
Biteable allows you to build videos that can be presentations, intros, or whatever, from segments of video, stills or animations.
- They call it “the world’s simplest video maker” and it really is very simple to use. Really, really simple! They’re not kidding. Even the subscription process was simple. I think even someone with no sense of aesthetics or ability to write a decent paragraph, or even technical expertise, could produce something appealing-looking on biteable.
- Like with many good templates, there are just enough limitations on the leeway to keep users out of trouble. The basic questions are answered here, on their webpage, but as I said, it’s pretty straightforward and the parameters keep users on the straight and narrow with regard to aesthetics and functionality.
- They provide the video footage or clips (the so-called “scenes”) and artwork – you pick and then add your text.
- You can upload and use your own soundtrack, but they also provide pretty good background music. As yet, I do not see the option for adding voiceover. On the website, they says that “some users do record a voice over in another application, such as Audacity, and upload it to Biteable.”
- You can also upload and use your own photos or videos in the templates.
- When they process your video, they so somehow manage to time the animation in the scenes to the rhythm of the music you chose.
- It’s relatively cheap ($99 per year for the basic package), but the graphics are quite impressively attractive and high-end. The animations look like the kind of thing you’d get from a proper film studio. You could spend ages with your mobile phone, iPad or camera, trying to capture high-quality footage, or you could get access to all this stock footage which is really eye-candy.
- In fact, a huge repository of the segments are commercial (so-called “Premium”) Shutterstock footage which will cost you more to use. (But the prices are clearly displayed.)
- While they to send you updates to educate you about stuff like music copyright, Biteable’s imagery is already cleared for use.
- For the monthly fee, you can download your video (or presentation or whatever) as a usefully compressed, straightforward .mp4 file.
- Otherwise, if you don’t subscribe, your product is made public, has the Biteable logo on it, and is shared with all the world.
- All Biteable videos are currently 1280×720 (HD TV) resolution.
Again; short, short, short
- Since every segment (or “scene”) is only a few seconds long, a video with 5 or 6 segments might end up still being a minute or less. It is therefore just not the vehicle for content-heavy presentations. (Please remember that the time it takes for people to skip out of a video as quickly as in 5 seconds.)
- There is a limit of up to 100 scenes per Biteable video. Frankly, I wonder why anyone would go that far. It would look like a stitched-up quilt.
- Each scene of the video is automatically timed but most can be shortened to around 3 seconds long, though right now they cannot be made longer.
- The transitions between segments are also automatic – you can’t change that.
- Every text line only allows 50-70 characters.
- Also, you can only work online.
Back to the old standbys
What you use Biteable for is a case of “courses for horses” – basically, anything where a video will work. This brings us back to old-fashioned but reliable PowerPoint and Keynote (for Mac users).
There are alternatives to the video-creation approach – you could concoct something from free videos off a site like pexels.com, and then edit them in old-school Windows Movie Maker or in iMovie. But that is a lot of work (ask me, I know!) and the final files are huge. Note that Windows Movie Maker worked just fine but Microsoft is no longer updating and supporting Movie Maker. The last version of Movie Maker can still be downloaded from various sites on the Internet, if you go looking for it, and people say it still works on Windows 10.
Hootsuite recommends various video creation alternatives, including the free and apparently stable Spark Video by Adobe. The list of recommendations also includes iMovie but the current iMovie version 10 has got rubbish reviews from just too many people. The functions that I would normally use have been removed from this version, so I’m still on version 8 from 2009! (Which works just fine, by the way.) The limited functionality of iMovie 10 seems to be a tactic to get users to buy the high-end and very complicated professional level Final Cut Pro. It’s so fancy you can make commercial movies using it, so I’m afraid I’ll only get to use it one day when I’m all grown up and wealthy.
Choose your poison
The point is that video is the right medium for face-to-face, online marketing and social media marketing. But nowadays you have to choose your poison if you want an active, stable commercial product, since it’s mostly Software as a Service (SaaS) options that are available. You’d be hard-pressed to find free, active and stable software, and even more hard-pressed to find video editing software that you can still download as a standalone package with purely off-line functionality. (Software on a CD – eh? really? where?) One way or another you are going to get tied into a subscription.
What I use Biteable for
I have fine-tuned my skills with PowerPoint so that my presentations are even timed to music tracks, like with iMovie, and look as fancy as a Keynote presentation.
But if it is ready-made, professional video presentations I need, I use Biteable. Currently I use it to make visual summaries of less than one minute long of the books that I review on my book blog. (The average time people stay on a webpage before clicking out has gone from 30 seconds to 15 but 60 seconds or less is as brief as I can get a video-format review.) I have to say, the varieties of visuals they have to choose from seem endless and the platform is quite fast and stable. And from the interface commands I can see they have a great sense of humour.
Go on, give Biteable a try. It’s not that great of a financial risk and it might even be fun.
Here are my examples: