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A novel format for audio rich presentations

(Warning: I realize this project is somewhat dry but given a series of presentations I have coming up this will be very, very, very useful for me). In my line of work it is not uncommon to generate presentations that contain 10 figures, a couple animations 100 or more audio files I want my audience to hear. It is also not uncommon for microsoft powerpoint to lose the links to the audio files leaving me with a silent presentation and trying to recreate synthetically generated sound textures with my own voice and interpretive dance.

I have experimented with embedding sounds in .pdf and .html documents and both techniques have shown progress but both have a lot of bugs that need to be worked out. I have also experimented with manually playing sound files but this rapidly becomes tedious with large numbers of files.

I am hoping to use techniques designed for music and visual arts to build and intuitive and interactive graphical interface that can store hundreds of short sound files and images in a logical and robust fashion.

If interested in hearing more feel free to get in touch (


James had a previous presentation that compiled in LaTeX, using absolute paths to play the sound files. The goal of this hack was to make it possible for James to send a presentation to another person and have the presentation compile on that person's machine making use of relative paths.

Originally, we thought that we could write a shell script that each presentation shell script could call to extract the present working directory, ie. where the presentation is stored, and concatenate that with relative paths of the sound files. But we realized that this couldn't work because the many shell scripts in James' presentation that used this path information were executed from the root directory. This meant that when the presentation shell scripts went to play the sound files, it would look for sound files that paths that are the root directory concatenated with the relative path relative to the presentation. In other words, these concatenated paths would be missing the part of their absolute paths that go from the root to where the presentation is stored.

Therefore, we needed to create a solution that used absolute paths comprised of a directory that all computers have concatenated with the relative paths. To this end, our solution was to write a new shell script called “” that moved the entire presentation folder to the tmp directory. As the author, one can create the shell scripts to use absolute paths that are the relative paths, but that start with /tmp/.

A working example can be downloaded from:

It allows your audio files to be easily documented and stored, can be transferred around your filesystem and to other computers with ease, and is barely larger than a folder containing all the included audio and image files – Enjoy!

Thank you to Tom Stoll and Michael Casey for the helpful bash conversations that transitioned this from a hack working on James' machine to a portable presentation.

Team: James Traer and Katie Kinnaird

newpresentationformat.txt · Last modified: 2013/10/02 11:28 by jtraer