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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: August 2009

Thoughts and impressions of whatever is happening in the world of PowerPoint

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Instant Effects Presenter v4: Conversation with Don Brittain

Saturday, August 29, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:07 PM IST

Don BrittainDon Brittain is CEO and a founder of Instant Effects, a California company that develops software to visually enhance presentations, communications, and collaboration. In this conversation, Don discusses the new v4 release of Instant Effects Presenter.

Geetesh: Tell us more about the new Presenter v4.

Don: With this new release of Presenter, we’re offering even greater control of the key elements needed to produce fantastic speaker support and event graphics.

We've continued to build on our hallmark capability of providing modern broadcast looks, complete with custom branding through dynamic logos, branded transitions, and full motion backgrounds.

With version 4, we also offer the ability to include dual low-latency live video feeds, use multiple projectors to produce high-resolution output at reasonable cost, and we allow your presentations to be rendered in stunning stereoscopic 3D, just like the new feature films being released today.

By tightly integrating functions that are normally handled by expensive Audio/Visual equipment, we both lower the cost of producing an event while simultaneously increasing the creative options. This leads to a better visual result, while keeping tight reins on your production budget.

Presenter remains an open and extensible system. In a world where almost all presentations look the same, Presenter offers almost unlimited creative freedom to help your presentations get noticed, stand out, and be remembered. Frankly, it’s quite thrilling to see what others have done with Presenter when it comes to high-class, exciting output.

Geetesh: What are S3D Presenter, Event Presenter, and Master Presenter – are these extras or are they part of the Presenter v4 product?

Don: Presenter has always been based on a real-time 3D rendering system, similar to those used in advanced computer games or for movie special effects. With Release 4, Presenter now consists of a family of four software products, all built on the same core foundation.

With OfficeFX Presenter, we use the core functionality to provide fresh ways to render your PowerPoint content. This allows your presentations to benefit from the visual expressiveness common in broadcast television graphics while still offering the benefits that come from using PowerPoint to enter and edit your content and control your presentation flow.

Event Presenter extends the feature set of OfficeFX Presenter. It uses the power of our real-time rendering system to add support for dual HD video streams, including support for live, low-latency video input in HDMI, HD-SDI, or component form. It also adds the ability to “edge blend” sub-images so that multiple lower resolution projectors can be used to produce very high-resolution displays.

S3D Presenter builds on OfficeFX Presenter in a different direction. It includes support for rendering separate left and right views to produce high-resolution, full-color stereoscopic 3D output for display on a broad range of S3D projectors and monitors. Since we still support the use of 2D assets (images, text, video), S3D Presenter provides an interesting way to give new life to current content. And by including animating 3D models along with stereo 3D images and video, you can produce state-of-the-art results while still employing PowerPoint workflow – complete with the ability to make changes right up to the last minute.

Master Presenter combines the features of OfficeFX Presenter, Event Presenter, and S3D Presenter in a single, comprehensive package. Because different users have different needs, the products are sold separately, but you can easily upgrade with no need to alter any of your existing presentations.

See Also: Instant Effects Presenter v3.5: Conversation with Don Brittain

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:50 PM IST

PowerPoint has been around for nearly two and a half decades now, and quite possibly many viewers are tired of seeing the same PowerPoint designs. Styles come and go with unfailing regularity, and there's always the human urge to experiment and play with something different. This human urge extends to PowerPoint as well -- and PowerPoint designers are always on the look out for something more contemporary. Enter Motion Templates from PresentationPro, a set of designs that include animated elements that attract attention while still being subtle enough to not make the presentations loud. How can these be used, and what is our opinion -- read more to learn.

Read the review here...

Categories: powerpoint, templates

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 9:48 AM IST

Like many others, I end up with many programs on my computer. I find that most programs fall into several categories. I need to use some of them everyday, and some of them at least a few times each month. Also there are programs that I had to buy because I had to use them once or twice -- and maybe I'll need them again once or twice a year. Finally, there are programs I use all the time because they do the work of a dozen programs for me! I'm sure SnagIt from TechSmith comprises the last category.

Read the review here...

Categories: snagit, techsmith

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Monday, August 17, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:35 PM IST

While PowerPoint is equipped with more options that what any person can use in their lifetime, there's always some features that are missing -- or are available in some deep dungeon within PowerPoint that's not visible to mere mortals. I recently came across this cool add-in for PowerPoint called OfficeOne ProTools that creates some new options within PowerPoint. Let's see how it fares.

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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Thursday, August 13, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 1:09 PM IST

Steffen SetzerSteffen Setzer is Director of Marketing at Canto. Canto is a leading supplier ofdigital asset management solutions and has been dedicated to helpingcustomers fully utilize their digital assets since 1990. In this interview, Steffen discusses the new Canto Cumulus 8, a cross-platform solution that enables companies to easily organize, find, share, and track their ever-increasing numbers of photos, illustrations, presentations, video, audio, layouts and more.

Geetesh: Tell us more about Canto Cumulus 8 and the new improvements.

Steffen: Cumulus 8 was the most significant architecture update ever for the product line. Just on the subject of performance alone, users are seeing exponential increases. The user interface was overhauled to provide a more efficient, friendly experience for users, and we also added user commenting on assets, statistics and much more. Among the new add-on products is a module that enables users to catalog new assets via email, which is a real benefit for those who work remotely, or even those who use smart phones to capture photos, like Realtors or insurance adjusters. Overall, I'd say Cumulus 8 has been an extremely popular release for customers.

See more here...

Geetesh: There's no new feature for PowerPoint users in Cumulus 8 -- but I'm sure they can benefit from the overall improvements to the program? Tell us more.

Steffen: Actually, because catalog performance in Cumulus 8 is far faster than ever, those who catalog PowerPoint presentations that are divided into individual asset records per slide, can see fantastic speed gains. In addition, we have a new built-in Image Editor that enables users to convert previews into brand new assets. So, users can use this utility to create web ready JPGs or other images from their PowerPoint slides. Or, they can even have Cumulus create watermarked variants of their presentations, saved as images or PDFs, even over the Web.

Categories: digital_asset_management, interviews, powerpoint

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:49 PM IST

Indezine is pleased to share with you information about YawnBuster. YawnBuster is an interactive PowerPoint® add-in by Harbinger Knoweldge Products that brings alive your slides with group activities such as audience polls, games, group exercises and competitions. And best of all, you can add all this stuff on your slides without leaving the familiar PowerPoint environment.

We are giving away 5 copies of YawnBuster -- all you need to do is fill in this form. Winners will be announced on the Indezine site, and individual winners will receive their licenses by e-mail!

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 1:47 PM IST

We have been using the Adobe eLearning Suite extensively lately -- trying out the individual products within the suite, using them within a PowerPoint centric workfklow, and creating tutorials using these concepts on this site.

Many Indezine visitors and subscribers would like to know how they can get the product, and try it out before deciding whether they want to buy it or not -- and for a product that costs northwards of $2000 for the full version, that's a very wise approach indeed.

You first need to visit this page on the Adobe site: Adobe eLearning Suite -- this will bring you to a page that looks like what you can see in the screenshot below:

Adobe eLearning Suite: Getting the Trial

The screenshot above is smaller in size than the actual web page you will get to -- but the most interesting options are the three listed on the top left -- and we explain them below:

  1. Download Free Trial takes you to a page from where you can sign in to your Adobe account (and create a free account if you don't have one) -- and then you fill in a form to get to the download link that weighed about 2.65 GB for the English version! If that's a very large download for you, look at the next option.

  2. Order Free Trial DVD lets you do just what it says -- you still need to fill in a form, and this option is available to users in North America and Europe only.

  3. System Requirements lists the optimum configuration that you system should possess to run the programs in the Adobe eLearning Suite.
That's for now -- in a subsequent post, we'll explore more facets of this suite of programs.

Categories: elearning, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 10:29 AM IST

After Jing on the Mac, TechSmith has announced a version of their Camtasia Studio product for the Mac OS X platform!

Betsy Weber, Technical Evangelist at TechSmith mentions on her Visual Lounge blog that "Camtasia for Mac will be available on August 25! Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more information and details with you about the release. Camtasia for Mac will have a special introductory price of $99, through the end of 2009. After that, the MSRP will be $149".

I'm sure looking forward to playing with this one!

Categories: camtasia, mac, techsmith

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posted by Geetesh on 9:55 AM IST

SlideShare announced the 3rd of their successful presentation contest series -- this one is called the World's Best Presentation Contest '09.

World's Best Presentation Contest '09 from SlideShare

You need to submit your presentation as part of this contest that runs from August 3rd to September 8th, 2009. There are three contest judges: Padmasree Warrior is CTO of Cisco, David Armano of the popular Logic + Emotion blog, and Guy Kawasaki, a well known author. There are exciting prizes to be won, including an Apple MacBook Pro, an Amazon Kindle DX, and an Apple iPhone 3GS. There are also 5 category prizes comprising copies of Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro software.

More info here...

Categories: online_presentations, slideshare, powerpoint

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Saturday, August 08, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:26 PM IST

There are no two opinions about this: your audience will be more engaged if your PowerPoint presentation has some sort of relevant interactivity that adds extra value to the content. Whatever you may want to show: complex information, business visuals, or pictures -- if it is presented in an interactive, non-linear style, it has the potential to make your audience more engrossed in your presentation. The product I am reviewing, Raptivity Presenter lets you create impressive interactions right within PowerPoint. Let's evaluate how it fares.

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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Friday, August 07, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:39 PM IST

We all use search engines like Google. Some of us use the advanced search options to fine-tune our results like searching for only PowerPoint presentations rather than all web page results. Although that's a great option, the results are all text, and hardly intuitive for PowerPoint users who are used to seeing thumbnail sized representations of their slides. Enter a new slide search engine that indexes slides online, provides search results with thumbnail slide views, and shows these to you. And all this for free!

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 1:48 PM IST

There are many times when I want to convert my PowerPoint presentations to video clips. This could be because I want to upload these video clips to YouTube and other video sharing sites, or maybe I want to create a DVD from my PowerPoint presentation. Whatever my motive, it's never an uncomplicated task to convert PowerPoint slides to a video format. Acoolsoft PPT2Video Converter claims to make this task simple and easy -- in this review, we will explore how it fares.

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, movies, powerpoint

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 11:51 AM IST

Vikas JoshiVikas Joshi founded the Harbinger Group in 1990, where he serves as the Chairman and Managing Director. His leadership at Harbinger has resulted in innovations in interactivity software. Vikas has his own blog that focuses on Interactivity. One of Vikas' patent-pending inventions led to Raptivity, a rapid interactivity builder, which makes e-learning interactive, engaging and fun. Harbinger’s other products includes YawnBuster, TeemingPod, Elicitus and Offline Content Player. Their newest offering is called Raptivity Presenter, which is the subject of this conversation.

Geetesh: How did Raptivity Presenter evolve and how it can help everyday PowerPoint users make their slides more interesting and captivating?

Vikas: Good presenters are good dialog creators. Millions of sales people, consultants, speakers, government officials, association members and managers aspire to create winning presentations everyday. They understand that a two-way dialogue with the audience is pivotal to keep the engagement going. However, they also understand it is not the easiest thing to do.

This problem of building interactivity quickly and easily is not unique to presenters. Professionals in e-learning have faced it for a while now, and have found a solution too. Their solution consists of using ready-made interaction models and customizing them quickly using a tool like Raptivity. As the use of Raptivity spread, we found some of our users building interactivity for their presentations using Raptivity! With this we realized it was time we broadened the scope of Raptivity beyond e-learning.

Presenters’ needs are unique in many ways. We talked to a lot of presenters and determined their pain points. They need to gain and retain attention, cut to the chase quickly, tell compelling stories and show diagrams that help visualize. They need tight integration with PowerPoint, so that they don’t have to leave the familiar PowerPoint work environment. They need the convenience of a single .PPT file containing all interactivity, so that there is no need to handle Flash files separately.

Piece by piece, we built to all these requirements, and the result is Raptivity Presenter, which introduces the phenomenon of interactivity to PowerPoint users. It makes it easy for PowerPoint users to include Flash interactivity in their presentations without the need of any Flash programming. With interactivity, now PowerPoint users can really think beyond graphics and animations. They can now jazz up their slides, get audience engagement, simplify complex ideas, display slide information selectively and even change the flow of the presentation as per the need. Raptivity Presenter can be useful for every person in the world who wants to transform his/her presentation into an interactive experience.

That is how we adapted the successful and proven paradigm of rapid interactivity to the world of presentations.

Geetesh: Tell us more about Raptivity Presenter and who can use it.

Vikas: Visualize this. You want your show to build up a fairly complex diagram part-by-part, and after it is built up you want to refer to any part and drill down to additional information – all on one slide. This is how you do it. While inside PowerPoint, select a ‘diagram buildup’ interaction from Raptivity Presenter, select the picture, indicate the parts you wish to build up in sequence, type in narration, record your voice if you like, and save the interactivity on your slide. Run the presentation, and you get a step by step diagram built up, with voiceover if you like, and with detailed drilldown information accessible by rolling your mouse over any part of the diagram.

Let’s do another example. You have a product line with four different models, and you are helping a customer make the right selection. It is time to use the ‘comparison chart’ interaction model. Again, the process is very simple. Select the interaction, enter product names and features or benefits, and what you get is a Flash-based comparison chart that is interactive.

Raptivity Presenter provides a library of ready pre-built interactions that can help in getting active audience participation. The interactions can be created using a very simple interface. The user doesn’t need to know VBA programming or any other programming language. With its easy to use and quick to learn interface, Raptivity Presenter becomes an ideal tool for a busy presenter.

Raptivity Presenter can be used for making presentations for various functions such as sales, marketing, consulting, change management, finance, human resources and training across verticals.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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Monday, August 03, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 4:37 PM IST

Most of us are familar with PowerPoint to Flash conversion -- this happens automatically on slide sharing sites like Slideshare, Slideboom, Authorstream, etc. and there are tons of add-ins available that do the same locally on your computer. However, converting PowerPoint to a video format and sharing it on a video site like YouTube has never been as easy as the PowerPoint to Flash option. The product I am reviewing today addresses this area and also converts your PowerPoint presentations to the MP4 format so that you can upload it to YouTube or watch it on your iPod. And did I mention that the product is free!

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint, youtube

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posted by Geetesh on 1:04 PM IST

I have been playing with the Adobe E-Learning Suite for several days now, and the Adobe Captivate 4 program bundled as part of the Suite continues impressing me with its logical workflows and options. In this post, I'll focus on Captivate's new Roundtrip PowerPoint workflow feature.

You start Captivate normally, and choose the "From MS PowerPoint" option within the "Create Project" area of the startup screen, as shown in Figure 1.

Start an Adobe Captivate project with a PowerPoint presentation
Figure 1: Start an Adobe Captivate project with a PowerPoint presentation

This brings up an Open dialog box from where you can navigate to, and choose any PowerPoint presentation. Both the new PPTX and older PPT file formats are supported. If you choose a PPTX file, Captivate launches PowerPoint behind the scenes although you won't see the PowerPoint interface while it imports all the slides.

At this point of time, you can select individual slides from the presentation that you want to import, or just import all slides (see Figure 2). One important option here is the "Linked" checkbox. If you enable this option, your Captivate project will be dynamically linked to your original PowerPoint file. Any changes made to the original PowerPoint file will reflect in your Captivate project.

Dynamically linked PowerPoint files in Captivate
Figure 2: Dynamically linked PowerPoint files in Captivate

Thereafter click the OK button, and Captivate will bring in all your PowerPoint slides into a new project (see Figure 3).

Imported PowerPoint slides in Captivate
Figure 3: Imported PowerPoint slides in Captivate

Note: Remember that the dynamically linked PowerPoint slides options (also known as Roundtrip PowerPoint Workflow) only works with PPTX files, and Captivate does not import any PowerPoint animations within the new project.

Categories: captivate, powerpoint

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Saturday, August 01, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:04 PM IST

PowerPoint presentations or other projected content in churches don't always follow the rules laid down for corporate presentations. Although the presentation backgrounds used in churches should also be non distracting from the message, you can still use a busier background with flowers, skies, people, religious symbols, and other nature elements. The new Christian backgrounds and worship themes from PowerFinish aim to fulfill that requirement with their graphic styles and contemporary Christian concepts. You can use all of the designs in this product for PowerPoint presentations or within any other worship or church presentation software.

PowerFinish Worship Themes Templates  PowerFinish Worship Themes Templates

Read the review here...

Categories: christian, powerpoint, templates

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