Ovation Puts Pep in PowerPoint Presentations

Opinion: Serious Magic's product transforms a dull slide show into a dynamic way to get a point across.

At the spring DEMO@15 conference, I had the opportunity to see a number of cool new products ranging from security devices to mobile blogging platforms. However, nothing I covered at the Scottsdale, Ariz., conference generated more reader feedback or questions though than a product called Ovation from Serious Magic Inc. (Serious Magic is known for its Visual Communicator video creation tool, and for digital video programs like DV Rack.)

Ovation is a software program that allows users to transform Microsoft PowerPoint slides into professional presentations. You wouldnt think that a tool for PowerPoint would generate so much interest, but Ive been beta testing Ovation during the past week, and the product really does deliver. Not only were my visually uninteresting PowerPoint presentations dramatically improved upon, but I was also able to use the product to practice my delivery of presentations.

eWEEK Labs tests of the Microsoft Office 12 beta have shown that the PowerPoint application will have new features that will make it easier for end users to build flashy presentations and to practice their speeches. However, the office productivity suite wont be available until next year; even then, it may be as long as a year before enterprises begins deploying the suite to end users.

Ovation requires Windows 2000 or XP, and Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 or later. When the product is released at the end of this year, it is expected to cost $99.95 per seat. A beta can be downloaded here.

Once Ovation is launched, all you need to do is drop a PowerPoint file into Ovation and select a particular theme for your presentation. The PowerPoint slides are automatically upgraded with features including high-resolution text, dynamic transitions and motion backgrounds. Users can also include talking points with each slide, along with a scroll speed that acts like a teleprompter during the presentation.

One feature Id like to see in Ovation when it does come out of beta, though, is the ability to create an executable file so that the presentation can be viewed in the absence of the program. The ability to export an Ovation PowerPoint presentation to Macromedia Flash, for example, would be particularly handy.

The only bad thing about being an eWEEK Labs analyst is having to sit through PowerPoint presentations. When I started the magazine, I used to laugh when my colleagues would tell vendors that theyd only sit through five slides. A few years—and hundreds of PowerPoint slides—later, I understand their pain. Maybe some vendors will see this column and spice up their presentations for me.

eWEEK Labs Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.