Use Apple’s Keynote to Make HD Videos

Update as of November 2013: This page originally published in February of 2010 but virtually all of the recommendations are identical.

Being a more effective communicator in today’s more virtual world means you must master the tools to do so, whether it’s effectively using your webcam or having noise-free conversations via Skype.

Today we are — as both founders of major open source projects have pointed out (i.e., Matt Mullenweg of WordPress and Dries Buytaert of Drupal) — compelled to communicate with a variety of media types in the hope we can be more effective online today (both as individuals and as organizations). Mullenweg and Buytaert are adamant that we all must recognize that we’re “in the media business” and must use the tools available to us, and video is the most obvious way to deliver high value communications.

To that end, I love seeking new tools and exploring new uses for the ones I own and the following are examples of my own use of Apple’s Keynote (available in their iWork ’09 suite) for creating and delivering HD quality videos. This is an especially interesting use of Keynote since most video sites now deliver HD quality videos (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, VideoPress for WordPress) and trying to deliver presentations, creating intro slides for your video, or doing much of anything in HD is a challenge.

Before I outline the steps I go through to deliver these HD videos using Keynote, take a peek at some examples of videos I’ve done for our business and understand that these types of video ads are MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than a static image or a photo gallery below a static image AND RESULTS IN HIGHER SALES (by 15-25%). It gives potential purchasers of our products a solid inside view of a $400 report in 1.5 minutes and helps them quickly understand what they’ll be getting after purchase:

This our very first video promo we did for our FutureHome report in 2010


 This one we recently did for our client, Envision Planet


Here are the steps:

a) Open Keynote. Go to View>Show Inspector and in the Inspector Document (choose the icon on the left in the top row) and choose Slide Size of 1280 x 720

b) Create your slide deck with all the fancy transitions and magic available (I’m not responsible for your inability to be creative!). You can use the File>Record Slideshow capability in order to do a voiceover of your slide deck though it’s hard to do in one take. Usually that’s what you need to do so you can output it your presentation as a seamless video with your voice and you controlling the slides.

If you want to just have Keynote automatically play (e.g., transition the slides and the builds on the slides) you can set up timings within the Keynote slide deck itself (e.g., have one slide on for 10 seconds, then transition, then the next slide for 5 seconds, and so on) until you’re satisfied that it’s going to output a video that will look like what you intend to be in the video you deliver.

c) When you are done and satisfied it looks good and meets your cinematic, Steven Spielberg-like HD video vision, go to Share>Export>Quicktime and choose the appropriate options (this will entail some futzing around until you get the results you expect). You have four main Playback Uses:

  1. Manual Advance: if you’ve created a slide deck with timings and builds so that the deck can play automatically, then this is the choice you want. Seems a little weird for a name (manual) but it means that you’ve set it up yourself for timing
  2. Hyperlinks Only: if you’ve inserted hyperlinks in the slide deck, they can be triggered within the Quicktime video itself (but this does NOT work for any other file format other than a .mov)
  3. Recorded Timing: this is the one you’ll use if you’ve done the File>Record Slideshow option
  4. Fixed Timing: is used when you just want something to play with a defined number of seconds between slide transitions.

d) Formats are pretty self explanatory, but let’s say you were going to want to achieve maximum HD quality. I choose Custom, leave it at 1280 x 720, click Settings and choose these:

  • Compression Type: H.264
  • Frame Rate: 30fps
  • Compress>Quality: Best
  • Data Rate (for HD): Restrict to 5000 k/bits sec
  • Optimized for: Streaming
  • Click “OK” and output the video.

e) What about audio? If you haven’t added audio to your Keynote deck by trying to record a voiceover of your presentation in one take (which is very hard to pull off) then I suggest you do one of the following:

  1. Look at your finished video, see how long it is, and then launch iMovie or Final Cut on your Mac. Add a music bed (e.g., the classical music for the Ambiente video above came from the public domain music available here on Wikipedia) or use these programs voiceover recording capability to lay down your own voice track
  2. Use an audio program like Audacity, Garageband or other to create your music or soundbed. Create a soundtrack that is the exact length of your video and add it to your video with iMovie or Final Cut
  3. If you’re a Quicktime Pro user of Quicktime 7 (the new Snow Leopard Quicktime 10 has fewer features for pro use and won’t allow the use I’m about to describe) you can open your audio file in QT7 and do a “Select All” and “Copy” (so the audio/music is in memory), then open your video file and go to the “Edit” menu and “Select All” and then under Edit choose “Add to Movie” and it will place the audio directly under the video. IMPORTANT NOTE: When you save the movie you must do a “Save As” and be certain the “Save as a self-contained movie” is checked. Why? This will combine both the audio and video in to one file and if you don’t, the movie you upload will be missing the audio file which is sitting on your computer!

This not an exhaustive tutorial on how to use Keynote for HD video output and use, but hopefully has provided you with a peek in to its capability so you’ll be willing to give-it-a-go and figure out how to do it. Good luck!


  1. […] Keynote to Video […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.