Speech-Over Studio: Conversation with Joel Harband

Created: Tuesday, September 4, 2007, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 8:36 am

Joel HarbandJoel Harband heads Tuval Software Industries, based in Israel. Their best known product is Speech-Over Studio, a PowerPoint add-in that enables PowerPoint slides to incorporate narrations using automated voices.

Geetesh: Tell us more about this new update to Speech-Over.

Joel: Microphone recording and prerecorded files can now be used in addition to text-to-speech (TTS) voices to add narration to PowerPoint presentations — substantially broadening the product’s applications. Also, you can now add narration clips to slides without attaching them to objects -– good for general topics like introduction and summary.

Speaking about recording, many people ask us: PowerPoint can already add voice recordings to presentations with the Record Narration function, why would I need Speech-Over? The answer is that Record Narration lets you add a voice track to a slide, and that’s fine for static slides. However, when objects on the slides are animated, you want to be able to easily synchronize the voices with the animations to achieve an effective multi-media, movie-like presentation. Speech-Over provides the solution: it delivers a voice track that is perfectly synchronized with the animations. Using a unique technology that adds voice clips directly to animated objects, it synchs voice media effects with the objects’ animation effects. And it’s easy to use: Speech-Over works in PowerPoint design mode and integrates with PowerPoint functions. Users can preview the results immediately in slide show mode. Its voice editing commands change the voice track without re-recording.

In another recent development, designers that want to add voices to PowerPoint-based Flash presentations are finding it easier to add voices to the presentations with Speech-Over before converting them to Flash. The voice track is automatically converted by the PPT2Flash conversion tools.

Speech-Over includes the basic Microsoft TTS voices free, and is now available in the Speech-Over Premium Voice Package, which includes the NeoSpeech premium voices Paul and Kate.

Geetesh: Can you share some case studies of people using Speech-Over.

Joel: Here are three case studies, each showing a different application of Speech-Over.

  • On-Line University Courses — Charles Nippert, an engineering professor at Widener University in Pennsylvania, uses Speech-Over to provide on-line demonstrations for his students quickly and economically. Professor Nippert explained that he posts the PowerPoint presentations on his site without converting them to Flash since his students can download them quickly with their fast connections.
  • High School Special Education — Bjarne Lund Henneberg, a high school educator at the Emmerske Efterskole in Tonder, Denmark, pioneered using Speech-Over to add voices (in Danish) to his driving theory course for young people with reading difficulties. The PowerPoint presentation displays the course text on the screen and as the students try to read the text, they hear a voice speaking it aloud, which greatly helps them to understand. Bjarne’s course kills two birds with one stone: the students pass the driving test – and learn how to read in the process.
  • Industrial Training — Daniel Moreno, complex maintenance trainer at Tyson Fresh Meats in Holcomb, Kansas uses the software with text-to-speech voices to train employees. The employees view the audio-visual presentations he creates and it’s easy for him to keep presentations up to date by just editing text.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint, sounds

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