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PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds

Read the Indezine review of PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds from CrystalGraphics.


Date Created: April 28th 2009
Last Updated: April 28th 2009

About PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds
Download and Installation
Using Video Backgrounds
The Video Backgrounds
Pricing and Support


Presentations encompass two worlds: the first presentation is the presenter, and he or she is the life and soul of any presentation. The other presentation is the framework that the presenter uses, and this is your typical PowerPoint presentation. A better framework created with attractive slides and rich media objects is always preferred, as it shows that the presenter took pains to make sure the slides appear professional enough for the audience.

Now imagine a presentation with moving rather than static backgrounds. Will it add even more value? It all depends on many factors -- whether the movement is subtle enough, or just a haphazard jumble of disparate elements and colors. What you use is certainly a decision left to you, but in this review we are going to show you how these moving backgrounds can be added to PowerPoint presentations with a third party add-in called PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds from CrystalGraphics. Read on.


About PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds

PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds is from CrystalGraphics, a company based in Santa Clara, California, USA that creates add-ins for programs like PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, etc. You can learn more about PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds at their site...

PowerPlugs Video Backgrounds allows you to add a movie as your presentation background with all your other content unchanged on the slide.We all know that PowerPoint does not support text over video, but with PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds player you can get over this limitation and add a fullscreen video backdrop behind the text of your PowerPoint presentations.

It is important to note that the actual product only includes a Player engine that allows one to add these video backdrops and play them -- the Player supports a number of popular video file formats including AVI, MPEG and WMV. The video backgrounds are available as a separate product from the CrystalGraphics site -- they also have a subscription model that allows you to download the video backgrounds you want during your subscription period. . Also, you can buy PowerPlugs Video Backgrounds as part of the PowerPlugs: Ultimate Combo 2007 suite that I have reviewed earlier.

My contact at CrystalGraphics for this review was Dennis Ricks - thank you, Dennis.


Download and Installation

You can buy the product as a download or CD, or download a free demo. Run the setup routine and follow the instructions. When installed, you can find PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds within the Add-Ins tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2007 (see Figure 1).

PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds in the Add-Ins tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2007
Figure 1: PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds in the Add-Ins tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2007


Using Video Backgrounds

Follow these steps to use Video Backgrounds:

  1. Open any presentation in PowerPoint or download the Indezine sample presentation. Now click the PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds button in the Add-Ins tab of the Ribbon (refer to Figure 1).

  2. This opens the PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds interface, as shown in Figure 2.

    PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds Interface
    Figure 2: PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds

  3. PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds interface has two tabs: Select Video Background and Select Backdrop Style. The Select Video Background tab is explained below:

    1. Current folder: Displays the folder were the video backgrounds are located -- you can change this folder location as required.
    2. Subfolders: Here you can see the list of folders which contain the video.
    3. Preview: Here you can see the content videos within the folder you select in subfolder.
    4. Controls: This area of the interface displays the preview of the video. This is were you can set the speed of the video, loop the video, and apply a semi-transparent background of any color on top of the video as an overlay.

  4. The Select Backdrop Style tab (see Figure 3) allows you to choose the shape of the overlay backdrop.

    Select Backdrop Style
    Figure 3: Select Backdrop Style

  5. Once you have made the choices, click either of these buttons:

    Apply - To apply to the active slide
    Apply To All - To apply to all slides

  6. This will get back to your slide. Choose PowerPlugs: View Show with Effects from the Add-ins tab of the Ribbon (refer to Figure 1 above) to play the slideshow with the video background applied.

  7. To create an autorun CD choose PowerPlugs: Pack with Effects (refer to Figure 1 above), which opens PowerPlugs: Pack with Effects dialog box as you can see in Figure 4.

    PowerPlugs: Pack with Effects
    Figure 4: PowerPlugs: Pack with Effects

  8. Choose the options based on your requirement and the location and click OK to start the Pack with Effects process.


The Video Backgrounds

The Video Backgrounds subscription area allows you to log-in and download up to 100 PowerPlugs background videos at any time during the year. Figure 5 shows you the interface of the subscription area.

Select and download the video backgrounds you need.
Figure 5: Select and download the video backgrounds you need.

At the time of this writing, there were over a thousand video backgrounds already available to subscribers.


Pricing & Support

PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds for PowerPoint including the Player engine, and no video clips costs $149.00

PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds annual subscription including around 100 background videos costs $149.00

PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds Combo including both the Player and the annual subscription costs $269.00

Both the Video Backgrounds Player and the subscription are also available as part of CrystalGraphics' PowerPlugs: Ultimate Combo 2007 suite.

Support is through email, online FAQ and phone.


In Conclusion

PowerPlugs: Video Backgrounds is one of CrystalGraphics' most successful products and it works well as long as you have a fairly well equipped computer. I also like the fact that CrystalGraphics allows you to use your own video clips rather than limiting you to their own subscription offerings.

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