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Ovation

See Also: Ovation


Reviewed:

Date Created: August 23rd 2006
Last Updated: February 26th 2009






Introduction
About Ovation
Download and Installation
Using Ovation
Pricing and Support
Conclusion


Introduction

PowerPoint presentations allow you to show ideas, products, overviews, and even business strategies to audiences -- these are often projected to large screens -- yet, sometimes these presentations fail to leave an impact on the audience not because of the content but because all presentations look so similar and predictable.

That's where Ovation can make a difference -- instead of redoing the presentation all over again, you can use Ovation to enhance your existing presentations into great looking productions -- this review will explore if Ovation lives up to that promise...

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About Ovation

Ovation is from Serious Magic, a company based in California, USA that creates an impressive array of video and presentation tools. You can learn more about Ovation, and download a free trial version of the product from their site...

One important thing about Ovation -- the product performs as a player for the presentation -- it makes no changes to your original PowerPoints at all. Ovation makeovers the presentation by applying high quality video backgrounds and coordinated elements -- these are called "PowerLooks" in Ovation parlance.

My contact at Serious Magic for this review was Michelle Gallina - thank you, Michelle.

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Download and Installation

Before downloading the product, it is recommended that you check if your system is compatible with Ovation, as it requires a higher-end graphics card.

Thereafter, run the setup routine and follow the instructions. When installed, the program creates an Ovation toolbar within PowerPoint as shown in Figure 1 -- if you don't find it there choose View | Toolbars | Ovation.

Ovation toolbar
Figure 1: The Ovation Toolbar

You can also run Ovation as a standalone program -- but you still need to have PowerPoint installed on the system. Ovation works with PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 -- no compatibility details are available about the upcoming PowerPoint 2007.

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Using Ovation

Consider Ovation as a souped-up player for PowerPoint files that leaves your original presentations untouched. And yes -- Ovation does work best on a dual monitor system although you can still use it in a single monitor environment.

Follow these steps to get started with Ovation:

  1. Open any presentation in PowerPoint or download the Indezine sample presentation, then click the Save and Go to Ovation button from the toolbar. This will open the Ovation interface as shown in Figure 2.

    Ovation Interface
    Figure 2: Ovation Interface

    Alternatively, load Ovation -- the program will ask you to open a PowerPoint file -- either way you end up with the same interface (see Figure 2 above).

    The interface is divided into three tabs, as explained below:

    1. The first tab, called Choose Look (see Figure 3) has three distinct areas -- PowerLooks, Preview, and Navigation.

      The PowerLooks area allows you to choose a look for the presentation. Many looks are included within Ovation, and you can also download more looks from the Serious Magic web site. The looks themselves are sorted in categories so that you can easily select a particular look for a presentation.

      Choose Look
      Figure 3: Choose a Look

      Present (see Figure 4) is where you can command and control the delivering show time. It also includes a a point prompter where you can enter important information, which you don't want to forget while presenting.

      Present
      Figure 4: Present

      Options (see Figure 5) has two sub-tabs for Special Slides and Customize Look.

      In Special Slides, you can add some dynamic slides to the PowerPoint sequence. These slides can include a welcome slide, an intermission slide (with a clock), and a thank you slide. These slides have different animations depending upon the look you choose.

      In Customize Look, you can add a background, foreground, or logo as an inserted image -- you can alter the transparency of these images so that they look like a watermark.

      Options
      Figure 5: Options

  2. All three tabs include a Preview window which shows the slides as you apply changes on them -- the slides can be viewed individually when selected, by clicking inside the preview window, you can see the presentation moving to the next slide. In a dual monitor environment (or a laptop-projector set up), the preview window shows full screen on the other display.

  3. The Slide Navigation Bar at the bottom displays all slides in the current presentation along with its number and time -- including special slides. Use scrollbar at the bottom of the window scroll among them.

  4. Other than these options, Ovation provides a few buttons on the top right corner of the interface, which are explained below:

    Start/Stop: Puts Ovation in the presenting mode.

    Go to PowerPoint: switches to the current presentation in PowerPoint, so that it can be edited.

    Help: opens the online help for the current control panel.

  5. That sums up the entire Ovation workflow.

Ovation remembers all changes in the look and configuration made to a PowerPoint file within the same computer. All these changes are made in a configuration file within Ovation itself, and the original PowerPoint file is completely unaltered -- in fact, if you open the same presentation later inside PowerPoint, you won't even see any of the break or intermission slides you added within Ovation. However Serious Magic realizes that people might need to copy or move the presentations they made within Ovation to other Ovation equipped computers -- for those scenarios, you can save your Ovation-equipped PowerPoint presentation to an OVN file by choosing the File | Export -- these OVN files can then no longer be edited within PowerPoint.

However, these OVN files can be played in the free Ovation Player program that Serious Magic provides -- this player is currently in beta.

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Pricing and Support

Ovation is available for $99.95 -- you can buy it online, or as a boxed product in computer stores.

Support is through email and an online FAQ. There's also a very active user forum on the Serious Magic site. Also, Serious Magic offers free technical support if users call Monday - Friday 9 am to 6 pm PST -- on 916-985-8050.

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Conclusion

For what it does, and what it costs, buying Ovation is almost a no-brainer as long as your hardware supports the program.

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