APS walkthrough: Control presentations and images with Companion and Stream Deck

The video shows how you can control presentations and still-images from just one computer and a Stream Deck using APS and Bitfocus Companion. When you are working as an A/V technician on events with multiple presentations, this allows you to streamline your workflow: On smaller events, a single computer with a Stream Deck can now replace a hardware-switcher and multiple computers. In bigger setups, you get hands-on control of your presentations, and the tools to ensure that the picture you get from your presentation-computer is always clean without annoying desktop-artifacts.

The Stream Deck becomes your remote that gives you all the control you need for your PowerPoint, Keynote & PDF presentations, and the backdrop-images and screenshots makes sure that the transitions between the presentations look seamless. And you get all this control from just one computer and a Stream Deck controller. 

New in v.3 is that you now also get more information about the presentation directly on Stream Deck buttons: you can see what slide you are on and total number of slides, and the name of the current, previous and next presentation in the folder. This info is particularly useful if you dont have the presentation-computer in front of you. Version 3 is due to be released later this month. (February 2024)

The features showcased in this video works for PowerPoint on Mac and PC, and Keynote for Mac. For those utilizing PDF presentations, rest assured that you can achieve similar control, albeit with slightly reduced information displayed on the Stream Deck buttons.

How to set up Companion for presentation-control with APS

Not shown in the video is how you set up Companion with the buttons to control your presentations and still-images. If you are familiar with Companion, the process should be straightforward: most of the buttons can be found as presets that you can drag and drop where you need them. To get started using APS with Companion, follow this guide:

1. Download and install Companion and APS

Get the latest versions of both software. Companion can be found here, and APS here

2. Prepare APS: add images and presentations

Drag and drop the images you need to the still-images menu. You can also add specific presentations that you want to recall with Companion-buttons in a similar manner: open the “Presentations” menu and add the presentations you need.

3. Run both programs and add APS as a Companion-module

When both programs are running, add Auto Presentation Switcher as a connection in Companion. If APS is on the same computer as Companion, you can use the target IP If APS is on a different computer, you will need to find the IP-address on the computer running APS. APS and Companion must always be placed on the same local network for
The port-number must match for APS and Companion. By default, this number should be 31600, and it should be configured automatically.

4. Add Companion buttons

We use a combination of commands and buttons that just displays information. The commands can be added from the presets, just drag and drop the commands where you need them. Then we have the buttons that will display information about the slide or presentation. This can be added from the variables, where you copy the variable-code to the text-field of the button.
Notice that for the slide-button, we have two variables in one button, with a fixed character in between. This allows us to make a special button that both shows the current slides, and the total number of slides in the presentation, like 3/40. The code for this button text will be shown as: $(aps:slide_number)/$(aps:slides_count)

We also have a second page with the slot-presentations. These are buttons that will open specific presentations. Then you dont need to use the file-menu at all to open and start presentations.
The use of the slot-presentations is optional, you can also have a workflow where you first open the presentation from the file-menu, and from then on you use the NEXT command that will take you to the next presentation in the folder.

5. Add your Stream Deck

After you plug in your Stream Deck device into the USB-stick, it will normally show up on the Surfaces page in companion. If not, there are a couple of things you can try:
– Make sure you are not running the regular Stream Deck software.
– Rescan USB.

! It is important that you ensure that the Stream Deck has enough power in the USB-port. Stream Decks can be power-hungry, and if you share the usb-port with too many devices, you risk that the devices will fail. When using Macs on events, I always make sure that the Stream Deck uses its own USB3 port with nothing else on it. The presentation-clicker goes to a different port. However, if you are using externally powered USB-ports, you can probably add more.

6. Test your setup

You should now be ready to go. To get started, push one of the slot-presentation buttons to display a presentation, and you should see the buttons with variables light up with information about the presentation. When you push the “Next” button, you should advance seamlessly to the next presentation in the folder.

Mac and PC compatibility

The observant reader may have noticed that in this guide we use a Mac, but in the video on the top of the page we use a PC. When using APS, we want the workflow to be as similar as possible whether you use a Mac or PC. All the features shown here are available on both platforms. If you want to change your presentation-computer from a Mac to a PC, just change the IP-address and (if necessary) the port-number in the Companion settings for APS, and the commands and feedback will work with the new computer.

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