Luke asks, "What is best software for converting PowerPoint presentations to AVI and other video formats? Best shareware?"
I partially covered this topic in a previous article on converting PowerPoint PPT slideshows to WMV. The two primary options for converting PPT slideshows to AVI or any video format are to either invest in software that connects to Microsoft PowerPoint or to use a screen recording application to record your slideshow as it plays on your screen. Using separate software gives you more control over the video file format including AVI and MP4, while screen recording software typically offers similar video format options.
After converting many PowerPoint presentations, I have yet to find an application that combines all the features I want into a package that's priced in a budget that makes sense for most projects. The plug-in solutions generally copy most parts of a PowerPoint slideshow while failing to capture some transitions and completely bypassing any imbedded video, which is what makes screen recording an attractive alternative.
For the best in class for the plug-in solutions, the Presentations to Video Converter app does the best job I've seen for a fairly pricey $199. One advantage to this app is the ability to convert PPT slideshows with or without PowerPoint installed on the converting PC. A second, moderately priced alternative is PPT2Video Pro, which does an excellent job converting most PowerPoint presentations for $49. In most cases, PPT2Video Pro will do the job. If you elect to use PPT2Video Pro for conversion, simply select one of the convert to AVI options from the PPT2Video output options.
The option I prefer for converting PowerPoint to AVI is to play the slideshow on my screen while using screen recording software to capture the slideshow. If you don't have any embedded video clips in the slide show, an app like SnagIt or VoDMaker works perfectly for grabbing your slideshow at approximately 10 frames per second (full motion digital video is typically 30 frames per second). If you embedded a full motion video in your presentation, you need a screen capture app capable of full motion video recording like Camtasia, which is an outstanding solution for the task at $299 per copy. No matter which screen recording option you choose, add a blank slide at the beginning and end of the presentation so that you have time to start the recording before the slideshow engages.
The key to choosing a solution for converting PowerPoint to AVI is to make note of which elements of your presentation you need to convert to video. If you simply need to convert slides and a few simple transitions, something like VoDMaker will do an awesome job recording your screen for $19.
PPT2Video Pro does a great job of converting PowerPoint slideshows in a long list of formats including support for outputting HD video and iPhone and iPod ready files. For heavy duty conversion of complex PowerPoint presentations, using a screen recording app like Camtasia to capture every transition and maintain full motion video throughout results in a movie quality conversion of your slideshow to AVI.