1. How does SimpleSupers work?
1st make sure your windows computer is connected to your production switcher. You'll need at least 3 displays. 1 is your main display for operating PowerPoint. Displays 2 and 3 are for your Key and Fill as you desire.
2nd, build your titles and lower thirds in PowerPoint. You can use text, shapes, transparent graphics, gradients, objects and animations. Place these on a solid fill black background. (Tip: place a blank slide between titles, and use a fade transition between slides.)
3rd, click on the SimpleSupers tab in the ribbon and click 'Process Alpha'. This will generate the alpha channel from the slides you just created. Then choose the displays you want to use for the Key and Fill.
4th, Start the Show. SimpleSupers will activate the show and pop up the controller. Now advance the slides as you would with PowerPoint using the arrow keys, or click on the slide number in the controller, or enter a slide number in the box. Be sure to activate your keyer on your production switcher. Your supers will now animate in with your transparency as you cycle through the slides.
If you need to make a change or add new slides, close the controller, edit your slides, save the file, process alpha and begin again.
Set up your keyer in your production switcher. If your switcher has a 'premultiply alpha' option, that works well. Otherwise you need to adjust your clip and gain settings for a good key. Use this PowerPoint file to help you get the best key. Open the file in PowerPoint, navigate to the SimpleSupers option in the ribbon and 'process alpha', then adjust your keyer settings on your video production switcher.
2. How do I hook my computer to my video production switcher?
Follow the manufacturers guide to connecting your computer to your switcher. Some switchers require the same resolution and frame rate. In some cases you can hook up to your switcher using your computers HDMI output to the switchers HDMI input. In other cases you need to convert your computers display output to an SDI signal required by your switcher. A popular display format is 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 29Hz or 59Hz refresh rate. This works well with the Blackmagic ATEM production switchers set at NTSC 1080i59.94. If you still can get it to connect, you may need a Blackmagic Design UpDownCross converter or a Decimator.
A typical set up follows: Laptop with an HDMI output and Mini Display output. The laptop screen is Display 1. HDMI output (Display 2) HDMI cable to an HDMI-SDI adapter, then SDI input connected with a coax BNC cable to your production switcher input 5. Mini Display output (Display 3) with a Mini Display to HDMI cable to an HDMI-SDI adapter, then SDI input connected with a coax BNC cable to your production switcher input 6.
3. Why do I need a computer with 3 displays?
Display 1 is your main display where you build your PowerPoint slides. Display 2 and 3 are for the key and fill that will be used with your video production switcher. It does not matter which are the key and fill displays. It is your choice. You will select the correct parameters using your production switcher settings for upstream, downstream, or keying properties.
4. SimpleSupers is not working. I only see the show on 1 display. What is the problem?
Depending on your display set-up, Windows/PowerPoint may be confused about your display order. If the SimpleSupers Controller is displaying both the Fill and Alpha on the same display, it may be necessary to swap the order of your display position. This is a problem with your system display and PowerPoint. If your computer was previously disconnected from your switcher, you may need to reboot after connecting to refresh everything. You may also have to power cycle any adapters connected between your computer and video switcher (ie HDMI-SDI adapters).
If you have 4 or more displays, you may have to change the display order for Windows/PowerPoint to work correctly. Try putting your main display 1 in the 2nd or 3rd display position. Avoid putting display 1 in the first or last position.
5. There is a black bar in front of my graphic when my lower third is animating in. What is happening?
Depending upon the speed of your system and limitations with PowerPoint, slide animations may not be synced perfectly. (See system performance information below.) If animations are important, it is best to advance through your presentation once before going live. This should minimize the delay.
6. The alpha channel is completely white and not showing properly. What should I do?
For SimpleSupers to process the alpha channel correctly, you must change the background of the slide to a solid fill of black. Do not use a graphic or shape to do this, as any object on the slide will have an alpha generated from it.
7. Why is it called SimpleSupers?
Back in the day, production switchers used a process called 'superimpose' to put a title or graphic on screen. If you aimed a camera at a black board with white letters, then the switcher would eliminate the black, and superimpose the white on top of the background. This was known as a 'super'. Today, titlers (character generators) generate an alpha channel from the text and graphics to tell the video switcher what parts of the image are transparent. Solid black is 100% transparent. Solid white is 0% transparent, or completely opaque. Grayscale values represent a degree of transparency. SimpleSupers looks at the transparency settings you choose in PowerPoint, and generates an alpha channel based on those settings.
8. Installation Information: You must uninstall any previous versions or trial versions before installing the licensed version of SimpleSupers. After paying, you will be sent to the download page and receive your license key. Make sure PowerPoint is not running. After downloading the exe and template, launch the SimpleSupers.exe file. If you see the 'Windows protected your PC' screen, click the 'more info' button, then click 'Run anyway'. The installer will guide you through the installation process. After installation is complete, launch PowerPoint and you will be prompted to enter your license code. You must be connected to the internet for activation. Once activated you will be ready to go. SimpleSupers has been installed in your PowerPoint ribbon. The SimpleSupers license key can only be activated on one computer.
Tips and Best Practices
Depending upon the speed of your system and limitations with PowerPoint, slide animations may not be synced perfectly. Make sure you have recently rebooted your system and have only minimal programs running. It's a good idea to disable screensavers and other un-needed programs that may time out your computer or pop up notifications during your presentation. Including programs that place icons on your menu bars like TeamViewer. Also adjust your 'Performance Options'. Go to 'Control Panel/Advanced System Settings, under the 'Performance' section click 'Settings...'. This opens the 'Performance Options' window. On the 'Visual Effects' tab, click the option for 'Adjust for best performance' then click 'ok'. This disables all of those 'cool' features that take up additional computer resources like menu animations, drop shadows, fades and transparency.
When connecting your computer displays to a video switcher, you may have to use an HDMI-SDI adapter. Once this is working, it's a good idea to re-boot your computer.
It is a good idea to place a blank black slide between slides to give you a starting point to advance to the next slide, especially if it is animated.
Setting slide transitions to 'fade' make for good fade-in and out transitions between slides in the event you forget to remove your key. Try a duration time of .25 seconds.
PowerPoint Page Setup:
When building your PowerPoint file from scratch, be sure to set your slide size first. Click on the 'Design' tab, the 'Slide Size'. Select 'Custom Slide Size' and set your Width and Height. For example: For a 1920 by 1080 raster size, input '1920px' in the Width box, and '1080px' in the Height box. This sets the pixel size and then converts it to inches.
If you have a lot of slides, you may want to print a document with slide numbers to help you remember what slide numbers contain your graphics.
My favorite print settings are: Outline, Scale to Fit Paper, Print One Sided, Collated, Portrait Orientation, and Pure Black and White.
Another way is to view PowerPoint behind or beside the SimpleSupers Controller. When you 'Start Show', SimpleSupers minimizes PowerPoint and pops up the SimpleSupers Controller. To view your slide list, click on the PowerPoint program on the Taskbar to maximize it, then click on the SimpleSupers Controller to maximize it and bring it to the front. This will allow you to see the slides you created behind the controller. If you select Outline View, you will see a text version of your slides if they were designed using Title and Sub-title placeholders.
Set your Fill and Key Display backgrounds to an image that is a 'bail to' graphic in the event that you close the SimpleSupers controller and a live desktop image is supered.
SimpleSupers creates the alpha channel from any objects placed on the slide including text, transparent graphics such as .png files, boxes and art. You can design your slide with a color or gray background, or even an image, but always change the background to a solid black fill, and delete any images before saving and activating SimpleSupers. A transparent background graphic is included in this sample PowerPoint file as well as other helpful graphics and images.
Using 3D Models:
Generating an alpha channel from 3D Models are not supported with this release. However, you may still use 3D Models. Place them over a solid background shape. After 'processing the alpha', edit the Slave.pptx that SimpleSupers generates and delete the 3D model from the slide. Then start the show and proceed as normal.
How to make your own rotating or animated logo. PDF version available here:
Build your logo in a compositing or video editing program like Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Apple Motion. A good size for the logo is 200 x 200 pixels. Export the logo using the Quicktime animation codec RGB + Alpha (or use ProRes 4444). To convert your logo to a rotating animated GIF, import it into Photoshop then go to File/Export/Save for Web (Legacy)... You can use a preset. I recommend 'GIF 128 or 64 Dithered'. Check the 'Transparency' box. Open the options below that and select 'Diffusion Transparency Dither'. Then under 'Looping Options:' select' 'Forever'. Then save. You can import the animated gif into your PowerPoint file, resize if needed, and place where you want. This is great for a rotating 'bug' placed over your video.