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When creating online learning materials, I like the idea of sharing slideshows with audio commentary for each slide. I know it is possible to do this with PowerPoint (e.g., see this MS Office tutorial). However, I prefer to create PDF slides using tools like beamer.

Questions

  • Is it possible to create PDF presentations with embedded audio?
  • What is a good workflow for implementing this (e.g., recording the audio files, storing the audio files, sharing, etc.?

Ideally, the solution would be cross-platform and minimise external viewer requirements.

  • 4
    You can do this with LaTeX. See for example this thread in TeX.SX. – Marc van Dongen Aug 16 '12 at 9:42
  • 2
    Any reason you want a PDF with audio and not a video? – earthling Jan 19 '15 at 12:18
  • 1
    But then your Pdf file size will be very big, which is against one of the original ideas that Pdf is supposed to be small. I am sorry if my comment is too strong. – kitty Jan 19 '15 at 14:19
  • @earthling Maybe to reduce file size? – user2768 Mar 24 at 7:55
  • 1
    Could you clarify what, exactly, you want as the end result? Do you want something where the user can click to play some audio (like, "click here to read this passage") or do you want the audio to automatically play and scroll the PDF to keep the audio synced with the document (like, playing background music or narrating while you scroll through the file)? If the latter, should the audio automatically sync with the PDF position in case of going back a page or two? – earthling Mar 25 at 8:38
14

If you don't want to pay for Adobe Acrobat Pro, as @schultem mentions, LaTeX can do this with embedded hyperlinks. See this page, Section 3.5 for more information. Note that if you use this method (as far as I know) you will have to click for sound, it cannot be automatic.

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  • +1 Thanks. The LaTeX option is much more appealing to me. One challenge that remains is how best to distribute the audio online with the presentation. Can it be embedded in the pdf for example or does it need to be a large number of external individual files? – Jeromy Anglim Aug 18 '12 at 5:08
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    Put the PDF and audio in a folder, zip the folder, and distribute the .zip file as you would have distributed the PDF. In the PDF make the hyperlinks all assuming the audio is in the same folder. – nullUser Aug 18 '12 at 14:24
10

You need Adobe Acrobat Pro to record audio and integrate it into your PDF files. Anybody can access the PDF+audio via the free Adobe Reader.

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7

If you don't mind hosting your files online, SlideShare is a good solution. You can create an online audio presentation by combining your slides with an audio recording of yourself (MP3 format, for example) and a list of timings at which slides go forward.

I have used it myself, and it is a decent tool for this purpose.


Another solution, which is technically far from optimal but just works, is to convert your slides + audio file into a movie. This can be done with any AV recording/capture software. Then, you encode the movie into a Web-suitable format before putting it online.

Depending on your OS of choice, there are tools to do that. My wife does it on the iPad, for example, with ExplainEverything and the workflow is quite neat.

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4

You can make slides with LaTeX/Beamer and embed audio (and video) with the media9 package --- \usepackage[...]{media9}. The presentation becomes system-dependent, however. Embedded sound in my slides plays in Acrobat Reader but not (on a Mac) in Preview.

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Note: This is not an answer to the question!

As the answers have explained, you can embed audio into a PDF file, but why would you want to do that?

Personally, I make my slides using Google Slides, and make a video recording, which I post on my YouTube channel. The result is, in my opinion, superior to a PDF file with audio, because I can use a pointer (a red dot that moves as you move your mouse) to highlight the portion of the slide which I want students to focus on.

In addition, although I haven't tried it myself, I believe that it is possible to draw on your slides by hand, e.g., using an iPad, as you are delivering your presentation.

By using a pointer and/or handdrawn annotations on your slides, you can communicate your ideas far more effectively and dynamically than if you use PDF slides alone, which tend to be static.

(Yes, I know that you can program animations into your slides, but the effort-to-reward ratio does not seem worth it to me, in almost all cases.)

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  • I find just adding the audio to the slides in powerpoint and using highlight functions such as drawing a loop around a number or underling something works fine... Don't need to use any other programs at all. – Solar Mike Mar 31 at 7:30
  • @SolarMike Your method works as well! – I Like to Code Mar 31 at 7:40
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another way to approach this is the LaTeX route with beamer for generating the slides and use a screencast software (eg Camtasia - but there are also free versions around) to record your voice ... this works really well for me

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  • But then I would end up with a video again and use all the advantages of PDFs (small file size, vector graphics, etc.), right? – Wrzlprmft Mar 24 at 15:51
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You can do this easily using Jupyter Notebooks. It works great if you have embedded code (in Python, R or Julia), but the code element isn't necessary - it makes very pretty slides using markdown.

See this StackOverflow answer for guidance. You can add the autoplay=True argument, and the audio file can also be audio from a url.

If you've never worked with code in Python, R, or similar, then the learning curve on implementing this will be steeper. But wouldn't this be a great time to learn the hot open-source languages anyway?

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  • Hmm, this answer is a bit like recommending to use Powerpoint instead. Also, even though being familiar with Jupyter notebooks, the linked question does not seem to help me having the audio played without some code cells being run. – Wrzlprmft Mar 24 at 17:12
  • You can turn Jupyter notebooks into PDFs using nbviewer. I'm not sure if it will preserve auto-run audio though, and I didn't see that mentioned. – Jeff Mar 24 at 17:42
-1

Depends what you need. The other comments provide enough sources for typed out equations. However, in the event that you are doing this live/informally, I find it sometimes better to use handwritten equations, it which case I use Notability.

This may be an extremely niche use case, but it comes up often enough that you may want to consider it.

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  • Welcome to Academia.SE. I also really like Notability, but I'm not sure how this answers the question. The question is about producing PDFs (i.e., with Beamer) and embedded audio. Notability is an alternative to PDFs, and can produce PDFs, but I don't think it meets the asker's requirements. – cag51 Mar 31 at 4:18
  • @cag51 I was referring more towards handwritten PDFs generated by notability as the niche category this may fill. Notability also allows one to attach audio, hence I thought this may be helpful. – user760900 Apr 25 at 7:58

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