How to Create Slide Shows and Self-running Kiosks in Acrobat

Most of us already know that Adobe Acrobat can be used to create PDF multimedia presentations. But many people are unaware of the full range of multimedia capabilities that Acrobat offers, and mistakenly believe that Acrobat is limited to showing small video clips. The truth is, Acrobat 6 Professional offers numerous features that support integration of media and sound in PDF files. By learning about these features, you will be able to use Acrobat in new and powerful ways, resulting in dynamic presentations that capture the attention of your audience.

Among the many multimedia effects you can create in Acrobat PDF files are slide transition effects and self-running kiosks.

First, make sure you’re using the right Acrobat software. With Acrobat Standard, you can add sound to documents but you can’t import video clips. To create documents containing both video and sound, you’ll need to use Acrobat Professional, which contains all the tools necessary for integrating media in PDF documents. With Acrobat Professional you can import both audio and video, as well as control how the media plays.

Next, create your presentation. Acrobat is not a presentation-authoring program, so you’ll need to use an application like PowerPoint to create your presentation. Some people use page-layout software to create presentations, but for animated effects, PowerPoint is the easiest tool for adding motion to both text and objects.

Add your desired animation and motion effects in PowerPoint before exporting to PDF. The visuals you create in PowerPoint display in an Acrobat viewer after PDF creation as long as you follow a few rules.

src=’’ width=’400′ height=’300′
alt=’PowerPoint slide presentation’>

Figure 1.

The first rule is to create the PDF file correctly. You must use the PDFMaker macro installed in the Microsoft Office applications. Check the Adobe PDF Conversion Settings by opening the Adobe menu in PowerPoint and select Change Conversion Settings (Windows only). Macintosh users need to select Adobe PDF Settings in the Distiller application to change conversion options. On the Mac, launch Distiller and select from the Default Settings pull-down menu before clicking the Create Adobe PDF macro button in PowerPoint. After setting the Adobe PDF Settings in Distiller, return to PowerPoint and click the Create Adobe PDF button to convert the PowerPoint file to PDF.

‘I lost my PDFMaker Macro!’ — Tip for Mac users

If you originally installed Acrobat while running Jaguar and later updated to Panther (10.3.x), you’ll find that PDFMaker no longer exists in the Office applications. You need to first upgrade Microsoft Office through Microsoft’s online upgrade found at: Next, upgrade Acrobat to version 6.0.1. Open the Preferences dialog box in Acrobat and click on Updates in the left pane. Select Manually from the Check for Updates pull-down menu and click OK. After upgrading both Office and Acrobat, open Acrobat and select Help > Detect and Repair. Acrobat updates the PDFMaker in the Office applications as well as the Adobe PDF Printer.

The second rule for viewing PowerPoint animation and motion effects in a PDF document is to make sure you view the PDF document in Full Screen mode. You can set the Initial View in the Document Properties to open the file in Full Screen mode or press Control/Command + L to switch to Full Screen mode.

Steps: Creating Self-running Kiosks with Transition Effects in Acrobat

If PowerPoint is not your original authoring program, you can use any PDF file (or a bunch of photos converted to PDF) and let Acrobat perform operations such as auto-scrolling and transitions. If you want to set up your computer as a kiosk with slides that change automatically, you can adjust the Full Screen preference settings to loop a presentation and continually run the slides.
There are two locations where page-scrolling transitions are applied. Open the Pages pane and open a context menu on a page thumbnail. Select Set Page Transitions from the menu options as shown in Figure 2.

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alt=’Select Set Page Transitions from the menu’>

Figure 2.

The Set Transitions dialog box (shown in Figure 3) allows you to choose a transition effect, transition speed, interval for automatic page flipping, and page range you wish to show. Transitions you specify here are seen only when you view the PDF in Full Screen mode.

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alt=’The Set Transitions dialog box’>

Figure 3.

Setting transitions in the Pages pane is handy when you want to select a range of pages and control the speed for the transition effects. However, if you want to create a self-running kiosk where the pages loop in a continuous cycle, then you need to set transitions in the Full Screen Preferences dialog box.

Open the Preferences dialog box (shown in Figure 4) by pressing Control/Command + K and click on Full Screen in the left pane. In the right pane, check the options you want for displaying the PDF in Full Screen mode, such as Loop after last page and Advance every (xx) seconds. The transition you want to apply is selected from the Default Transition pull-down menu and offers the same transition effects you find in the Set Page Transitions dialog box.

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alt=’Preferences dialog box’>

Figure 4.

To add a little more pizzazz to your presentation, you may want to add a sound to the slide show. Adding sounds is handled easily in the Page Properties dialog box. Open the Pages pane and right-click (Control + click on Macintosh) to open a context menu on the first page in the document. Select Page Properties from the menu commands to open the Page Properties dialog box. Click Actions and select Play a Sound from the Select Action pull-down menu. Click the Add button (shown in Figure 5) and choose a sound file stored on your hard drive. Importing sounds on page actions in this manner can be accomplished in both Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Professional.

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alt=’Click the add button’>

Figure 5.

If you loop a slide show and the sound file is longer than the presentation, you can stop the sound on a page action. To control the playing and stopping for any media file, you need to approach the media import a little differently than described above. Rather than import the sound on a page action, use the Sound tool (Acrobat Professional only). In the Advanced editing toolbar, select the sound tool and drag a small rectangle on the first page in the file. When you release the mouse button the Add Sound dialog box opens. Use the default Acrobat 6 Compatible Media format and click the Choose button. Select the sound file on your hard drive and click Select in the Select Sound File dialog box.

The sound is embedded in the PDF, but it needs some instructions to play and stop. Open the Page Properties dialog box on the first page in the slide show. Click on Actions and select Play Media (Acrobat 6 Compatible) and click the Add button. Since the media has already been imported via the Sound tool, Acrobat recognizes the embedded file and shows the file name as the default file to play, the page number where the file is located, and a pull-down menu for selecting play instructions as shown in Figure 6.

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alt=’Acrobat 6 Compatible Media dialog box’>

Figure 6.

To stop the sound play, add a page action to the last page in the document. In the page Properties, select Page Close from the Trigger pull-down menu (this instructs Acrobat to invoke the action when the page closes). Next, click on Action and select Play Media (Acrobat 6 Compatible). When you click the Add button, the Play Media (Acrobat 6 Compatible) dialog box opens again. Select Stop from the Operation to Perform pull-down menu and click OK.

Be certain to open the Document Properties dialog box and click Initial View. Select Full Screen and use Save As to rewrite the file for best optimization. Set your Full Screen preferences for the desired interval and check the box for Loop after last page. Reopen the document and — voila — you have a self-running kiosk!

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About the Author: Wendy Halderman and Ted Padova

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