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I want to create a "time-lapse" movie of the multi-month editing process of a large Word document. I have created a script that runs every 15 minutes, saving a copy of the file if it has been edited, leaving me with a folder containing many copies of the document, named in chronological order, capturing the evolution of the document. (The document is written over the course of multiple months, so direct screen recording etc. is not an option).

To create the movie manually, I would open each file, check "View > Multiple Pages", adjust the zoom factor to show all pages of the current document, and make a screenshot. Rinse and repeat. (The movie should always show all pages of the document, it doesn't matter if the pages are reduced to "thumbnails")

How can I automate this process? I would see two strategies; the first one using Word and some scripting solution like VBA to somehow automate the above described manual process. Or to use a command line tool to render an overview of a word document as graphics, and use a simple batch script to render all documents. I cannot find a working solution using either of these two strategies. (I would slightly prefer the first option since I would like to have the user interface of Word visible in the movie)

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  • Hi, and welcome to SuperUser. We're not a "Please write me a script" service, so we won't provide you with a script. We are not a software request forum either, so we won't do that either. If you share your research, we can help you streamlining it and telling you where things go wrong and how to fix it. Please see the Help Center to learn what kind of question is acceptable here on SuperUser.
    – LPChip
    Oct 26, 2017 at 16:54
  • Just to clarify on the above, VBA can definitely do this. Just try to press the record macro function in Word and perform the actions manually. It'll give you code, and yes, you can actually load in another word document, change the zoom level etc, all from VBA. Combine that with some google searches and you should be getting on your way pretty nicely. In the end, share your not-so-perfectly working code here and ask what why it isn't working as intended, and we'll help you with that.
    – LPChip
    Oct 26, 2017 at 16:55
  • Lastly, VBA is Visual Basic for Applications, it can utilize VBScript just as well, and there's plenty of that on the internet, for example to script finding all files in a folder and get an array with filenames.
    – LPChip
    Oct 26, 2017 at 16:57
  • I wasn't asking for someone to write me a script, but rather for general approaches to solve this problem. I pointed out two possible strategies myself, both of which I couldn't make work to solve the problem yet. If I would have a question regarding actual code, I would go to StackOverflow, not ask here, right? Oct 27, 2017 at 5:51
  • What did you actually do for your first approach? Why do you think that solution won't work? You're already pointing out the obvious approaches to do. Of course you could also do this manually. Open each document and get a screenshot of it. Some tools like Greenshot etc. allow you to directly save screenshots to disk.
    – Seth
    Oct 30, 2017 at 10:00

2 Answers 2

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+50

It seems from the post that you have hundreds, if not thousands, of versions of one Word document, and you wish to create a video of its evolution.

Here is in general how I would have attacked such a problem:

  • Download and install the following free products :

  • Preset ShareX to capture the region of the screen in which Word will appear, with a hotkey for capturing this region, and set it to store screenshots in some empty folder

  • Make a list of the names of all the document files in ascending date order:

    dir /B /N D *.doc > script.ahk
    
  • Use a text editor of any kind that can massage this script into an AutoHotkey script so that each of the above document name becomes several lines as follows:

    • execute "document-name"
    • sleep the number of seconds needed for the document to load
    • send the ShareX hotkey to the desktop to cause a screenshot to be taken
    • sleep a bit
    • close Word, locating it via its title, by sending it Alt+F4
    • sleep a bit
  • Run the script

  • Stitch the set of images into a Timelapse video using VirtualDub

Alternatively to creating a script which may span thousands of lines, one can use the AutoHotKey commands of Loop, Files and sort (see manual).

The AutoHotkey script will probably take many minutes to execute, if not hours if you have thousands of documents. Test it first on a small subset of the documents.

If you don't know AutoHotkey, start with the tutorial found on its website and google for specific actions. There are many articles and sample scripts to be found, and also the members of the AutoHotkey forum are very helpful.

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I think you're going about this the wrong way. You should be using something like open broadcaster with a very low frame rate recording. It would use more hard drive space but it would be a lot easier to edit in a program later. https://obsproject.com/ It's open source and it works on most operating systems

Benefits include:

You can make scripts for OBS https://obsproject.com/forum/list/tools-and-scripts.22/

Ability to saving in multiple formats.

The ability to quickly remux to a different format after accidentally saving to the wrong format.

Ability to record one window but not other windows or to record the entire screen.

Ability to hide the mouse.

Just to name a few.

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  • I would add, if the file is already completed, record your action of deleting (backspace) everything one letter at a time, then edit the video to playback in reverse and at whatever speed you want.
    – MacsAre1
    Oct 26, 2017 at 16:37
  • That's a really good idea that could be incorporated with OBS or any other video recording software. I didn't even consider that. t would actually save a lot more space on the computer. That would work unless he wants to record the entire process, not just showing it fill the whole screen with text. Anyway why don't you post that as an answer? Oct 26, 2017 at 16:42
  • This is not an option for me, since 1) the document is written over the course of multiple months, with the computer being used for many other things in between writing sessions, and 2), as indicated in the question, I want the video to show an overview of the document, but I don't edit the document in this view (as the font will become too small to read). Oct 27, 2017 at 5:46

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