13 Replies Latest reply on Feb 19, 2008 10:07 AM by AAOHNSF

    Audio Player Control

    docedoc Level 1
      I'm looking for a vcr control that will control audio playback -- pause, rewind, or drag to a position midway -- that I can use with an external audio file. The person viewing the Captivate slide would be able to start, stop, or repeat sections of the audio. Why? Our sales training uses audio examples that are 5-10 min long and we need to let the user control whether the dialog plays and then skip around to review parts of the recording at will.

      I've puzzled through the Captivate 2 help file and figured out how to let the user stop and start the audio. I can't find a clue about how to let the user pause or skip around.

      Any suggestions?
        • 1. Re: Audio Player Control
          CatBandit Level 3
          Not sure where you are coming from or going to but if you are looking for a playback /VCR control, you can find them (when you open a movie for editing) under "Project > Skins". All the playbars except the old-style BMP controls have audio control built into them. Or ...

          ... click-boxes or buttons are the most common form of internal navigation used to jump around within a Captivate movie. To learn how and when to use them ...

          ... there are links to tutorial movies on the main user interface, so hopefully that will help you get started with the basics.

          Welcome to the Community and best of luck!
          • 2. Re: Audio Player Control
            docedoc Level 1
            Thanks for the suggestion. I've played with the skin's vcr control but it seems to apply to the slide show itself, allowing a user to move across slides. I'm looking for a way to duplicate what the skin's vcr control does, but have it apply to an audio file on a single slide rather than the whole show.

            Suppose one slide has two audio files, each of which is launched by a separate button, as in "Click to listen to sales greeting A". Neither audio plays unless the user clicks that audio file's button. Clicking an audio's button reveals a vcr control that allows the user to control playback of that audio, perhaps by rewinding a bit and listening to a section of the example again.

            So far as I can tell, the skin's vcr control controls audio that plays automatically on a slide, rather than letting the user choose whether to listen.

            Am I missing the point of the skin's vcr control? Should I be trying to solve this by branching to another slide when the user clicks a button that plays audio and then returning to the starting point when the audio finishes?
            • 3. Re: Audio Player Control
              CatBandit Level 3

              Suppose one slide has two audio files, each of which is launched by a separate button, as in "Click to listen to sales greeting A"
              The short answer to your question is "no, Captivate provides no way to attach a VCR control to a specific audio file" ...

              Having said all that, there might be a way to do what you want. Insert a rollover object (either a rollover caption or a rollover image), and attach the audio file to that object. This will not satisfy your wish for a VCR control for the audio (that might be done in Flash but you are on your own there...) but it will allow you to pause the slide, say, with the aforementioned click-box or button, while the user decides if he/she wants to rollover the object and hear the audio.

              Hope this is closer to what you are looking for ...
              • 4. Re: Audio Player Control
                docedoc Level 1

                Thanks for both answers -- very helpful. They convinced me to try again via the skin's vcr control and associate each audio with it's own slide. I made a bit of progress: the user can now click to launch audio, pause it, and jump around in the audio -- which was your first answer.

                Unfortunately the skin's VCR control lets the user scroll to any slide in the show. I had hoped that advancing the skin VCR's scroll button past the current slide - the one that actually contains the audio -- would result in following the project's following the branch back to the slide where the loop started. I must be missing something because the VCR's scroll button doesn't follow the path shown in branching view. Instead it seems to ignore branching and show the slides in numerical sequence.

                Do you know of a way to tame the skin VCR's scroll button so it follows a sequence of slides other than numerical?
                • 5. Re: Audio Player Control
                  CatBandit Level 3
                  There is no way to "program" the VCR slider to move in anything other than a linear way through the movie. You say you want it to follow branching, but give that idea some thought ... when you are dragging the progress bar forward and it comes to a branch, which branch should it follow ??? I really see no way in this physical world that the application can be programmed to do what you are asking of it.

                  In summary, I'd recommend you give the application a good workout and in so doing, learn to design your projects to showcase its features and avoid its limitations - in this case, I really see no limitations in the software, only in your understanding of it and how it can (and cannot) fulfill the tasks you ask of it.

                  A last thought: Movies are not designed to be fast forwarded as a "normal" method of display. If it is important to you that the "loop" be displayed while dragging the progress bar forward, you can specifically design the movie to do so by duplicating slides and rearranging them until it "looks" like you want it to look. But keep in mind that when the user tries to "play" the project in a more usual way (ie; to demo or train), it is going to appear strangely disconnected and perhaps even non-sensical. You really can't "have your cake and eat it too".
                  • 6. Re: Audio Player Control
                    docedoc Level 1
                    Thanks for the advice.

                    Too bad there's no easy way to move forward or rewind within an audio on a slide. Seems like a common need, since it's built into every dvd's remote control -- put the learner in control and all that.
                    • 7. Re: Audio Player Control
                      CatBandit Level 3
                      Hi again docedoc,
                      The reason there is no easy way to do this is because it defeats the whole purpose of having Captivate's own slider controls - that tie the audio and video together as do most such applications. To my knowledge, there is no application in the world in which the video and the audio are experienced simultaneously - but are controlled by separate progress controls. So your request is not likely to have widespread support as a new feature in Captivate.

                      Having said that - and after some serious imagination overtime - there is a way to do this in Captivate. It's a use that is not real widespread, but you can create audio with its own progress indicator, then import it to your project as follows:

                      1) . . Create a new, "blank" Captivate project.
                      2) . . On slide #1, add all the audio you want.
                      3) . . Include any playback control you wish.
                      4) . . Save the project.
                      5) . . Publish the project
                      .......( just the SWF, as you won't be needing the HTML file)
                      6) . . Close the project
                      7) . . Reopen the "master project" in Captivate
                      8) . . Insert the SWF you just created as an "animation" ( Insert > Animation)
                      9) . . Repeat for each audio file you want the user to "control"
                      10) .. Presto ... a project containing audio, each with it's own slider control

                      I hope this solution helps to satisfy your very unusual need. Let us know how it works out, okay?

                      • 8. Re: Audio Player Control
                        docedoc Level 1
                        Hey, thanks for the tip. Sounds promising. I'll give it a try and let you know.

                        Also, I've not described why I want to allow the user to control audio, so it does seem an unusual need.

                        I'll use the Captivate Soft-Skills Sample that comes with the application as an example. On the path between slide 10:Closing and 13:End insert a slide that lets the learner listen to three examples of a sales person greeting a prospect . Oh yeah, while they listen show a transcript of the conversation so they can read along.

                        These three audio examples are not just snippets, like the shopper's responses on slides 5-10. Instead they are a real life conversation between an actual shopper and sales person. Suppose the example audios are each 2 - 3 minutes in length, which is the average duration of a real sales greeting. Ask the learner listen to the greeting examples and then rank them into good, better, best using a matching question or Likert scale or whatever.

                        In our experience the learner will want to compare the examples by listening more than once, rewinding to a phrase or a key point, etc. If they can't easily do so, they complain about the inconvenience of always having to start from the beginning. Then they unkindly mention the dvd remote control, adding "how hard can it be?". I tell you, I'm tempted to suggest that the real problem is lack of short term memory on the learner's part but we are customer oriented, eh?

                        Finally, suppose that after a series of lessons in how to sell, an audio example includes the entire sales interaction from greeting to close. We use this a final integrative exercise in preparation for certification by a panel of grizzled sales managers. So now the length of each example is about 10 minutes. Believe me, it's hard to sell someone enough furniture for an entire room in 10 minutes and be close to realistic; but we manage.

                        Short audio is terrific. We use it all the time. Just let it play as the movie unfolds and the user can jump to next slide or back, if bored or confused. Captivate seems to be just the ticket.

                        But short audio doesn't match real life interactions. In our world shoppers seldom say, "Oh really" and then stop so you can supply the next step. Perhaps in the training but never in the showroom. Extended audio is also required in our environment. If for no other reason, I convinced our team to use it in integrative exercises and we are most pleased with the results. It's just that learners need to be able to rewind and jump around and I've got all this audio recorded . . .

                        So, I'm evaluating whether we should migrate to Captivate, which offers so many advantages, or look elsewhere. Again, thanks for the advice and I'll update my tale of woe to let you know the results.
                        • 9. Re: Audio Player Control
                          rbLearning Level 1
                          Docedoc --
                          The trick CatBandit described will do the trick.

                          Now that we better understand your goal, I might suggest adding a tool to your collection rather than abandon Captivate altogether.

                          It sounds as if you'd be thrilled with a solution that could create audio-only Flash files with their own controller, and some inexpensive third-party utilities can do that. I can't directly recommend any of them, but here are some you might look into:

                          Aleosoft MP3 to SWF Converter

                          Guangming MP3 Stream Creator

                          Of those I've seen, the following seems to be most appropriate for your needs (nice player bars):
                          Hoo Technologies MP3 to SWF Converter

                          Each of them cost between $30 and $40.

                          Granted, CatBandit's suggestion is "free," but if you see yourself doing a lot of these audio simulations then an inexpensive batch utility might be just the ticket for you.
                          • 10. Re: Audio Player Control
                            docedoc Level 1
                            rbLearning -- Exactly what I had envisioned. The controller will meet our needs.

                            CatBandit -- I couldn't figure out how to do the step you described as

                            3) . . Include any playback control you wish

                            other than enable a skin playback control for the single slide that contains audio.

                            When I enabled the skin playback control for the single slide and published, I got two .swf files: one for the slide and one for the skin. Inserting either or both into a slide in the master project didn't result in the skin playback control managing the audio. Probably pilot error. So two beginner questions, if you don't mind.

                            A. Does your step 3 refer to a playback control other than the skin?

                            B. If the skin is the playback control I should have used, can you elaborate on your step: 8) . . Insert the SWF you just created as an "animation" (Insert > Animation)? Did you somehow link the skin.sfw to the slide.swf when you inserted?
                            • 11. Re: Audio Player Control
                              Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                              Hi docedoc

                              I've not seen CatBandit around yet today, so hopefully he won't mind my offering help with what I believe he meant for you to do.

                              Indeed you will need to click Project > Skin... to select the controls. But there is an additional step you would need to do in order to achieve that single .SWF that includes the playback control. It's pretty simple. Click Project > Skin... > Borders tab and DE-select the "Show Borders" check box. Then perform the steps Larry outlined.

                              Cheers... Rick
                              • 12. Re: Audio Player Control
                                docedoc Level 1
                                Rick -- Thanks for the clarification. Disabling borders solved it.

                                Larry and Rick -- thanks for explaining how to do this. Seems like either method would work for what we need.
                                • 13. Re: Audio Player Control
                                  Like docedoc, I am having trouble with the audio in Captivate 3. I have imported Powerpoint slides as a background, then imported the audio file. I used the advanced audio controls to set the audio timing across the project. The problem is there is no way to pause the audio when pausing the presentation. For example, I selected one of the skins that came with Captivate 3. The skin includes the pause button. When I publish and click the pause button, the slides do not advance but the audio continues to play,

                                  Any idea on how to get this to work properly?