Beamer & movies

When giving a talk about robots it would be a criminal offense not to include videos. Unfortunately the options for outputting pdf files from LaTeX with video on Linux are sort of slim. You can chain yourself to Acrobat, but even then it uses realplayer and I don’t know about you but my distribution got rid of it years ago. So you’re left with showing grainy and rather choppy flv files. You can try okular or evince but I’ve yet to find a single movie that they would play reliably without crashing. I also wouldn’t want to give a talk with evince as it’s sort of buggy, nothing like standing in front of a hundred people and it showing a blank screen. This leaves xpdf.

xpdf is sort of ugly being motif-based and all but it’s great for showing a fullscreen talk. Unfotunately since Beamer embeds videos as hyperref links you end up having to click the picture and press ok in a dialog box. Not fun and it sort of throws you off while giving a talk. I’ve made a version of xpdf that eliminates the dialog box (with a new flag -autoexec), automatically runs any external links when loading up a slide and puts the size and location of the link in environment variables so that mplayer can pick them up. There’s still a little flicker as it invokes mplayer to draw the window but I’ll handle that when I have a bit more time. Talks look and feel much slicker now. Although you really don’t want to use this as your default xpdf, running external programs embedded in a random file you download is the definition of a security hole.

And who knows? Perhaps this even will be usable on an overclocked n900.

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