PowerPlugs: PowerPoint Transitions
Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: December 20th 2004
Last Updated: February 26th 2009
A PowerPoint transition is an effect that plays over a period of time that changes one slide to another. Purists often rule that simple transitions like wipes and fades are more usable than the more showy ones.
The problem is that rules are meant to be broken. Imagine asking a kid to paint with only blues and greens and stay away from reds and oranges. That's akin to stopping creativity. Probably it is the same thing with PowerPoint transitions - we all kill creativity because we are scared that we may create something bizarre.
So do use all sorts of PowerPoint transitions, harness your creativity and enjoy. Then when you think you are finished, open the presentation again and remove all the flashy transitions from most slides - retain them for the real important ones. You can also retain them for your opening and closing slides.
Now that I have provided enough caution, I can go ahead and discuss transitions with all the importance they deserve.
CrystalGraphics, based in Santa Clara, CA, United States is the largest vendor of PowerPoint add-ins that is sold under the PowerPlugs name. In the past, I have reviewed their PhotoActive FX, Slides That Win!, Ultimate Combo and Headings products.
PowerPlugs:Transitions is their best selling product - it's a set of third-party transitions that plugs into PowerPoint and allows the use of TV style transition effects in a presentation.
You can download a free demo version of PowerPlugs:Transitions from the Crystalgraphics site...
PowerPlugs:Transitions come in five distinct volumes - each volume contains a set of transitions. Once you install Transitions, it shows up as a toolbar within your PowerPoint interface.
The installation also adds a new group to your Windows Start Menu.
It might also want to check the graphic acceleration system on your machine when you use it for the first time.
PowerPlugs:Transitions requires a machine with around 16 mb of video RAM - the web site recommends 4 mb but I'll still say that it works best on anything with more than 16 mb. Luckily, that's no longer an issue since even basic laptops ship with 32 or 64 mb of video RAM these days. You'll also need to install the latest version of DirectX on the machine.
I installed all the five volumes with everything included (sounds, etc.) - the installed folder now contains 65 mb of files.
This is the easiest part. Just select a slide and click the "Add 3D Transition..." option on the new toolbar and you'll be presented with a simple dialog box.
This dialog box contains everything you need to do to insert PowerPlugs: Transitions within your PowerPoint slides - since it is self explanatory, I won't go into all the details. In fact, the demo version of Transitions allows you to play with all the effects.
Although it can be fun to play with all the transition styles, remember it is so time-consuming and addictive. Luckily, CrystalGraphics provides a Random Transition option that can be helpful when you need to add a quick transition.
We now come to the most obvious question - what happens if the intended recipient of the presentation does not have PowerPlugs:Transitions installed on their system?
PowerPlugs:Transitions can generate AVI movies of all the transition effects and insert them between the slides to simulate the transition. You can also create an autorun CD with all PowerPlugs:Transitions in place using the detailed tutorial on the CrystalGraphics site...
Each individual volume costs US$59 and all five volumes put together cost US$295. You can also get substantial savings by ordering the entire PowerPlugs suite of PowerPoint add-ins that's called the Ultimate Combo.
Support options include FAQs online and free software updates. Registered owners of CrystalGraphics software can find additional benefits in the Owners' Club area of the site. If your support questions are not covered by these options, you are encouraged to avail email support.
I believe this is a great product - but don't use it for every slide in your presentation since you want to hold the attention of the audience and not distract them. Here are some guidelines:
- Use the PowerPlugs:Transitions for those
important slides, opening and closing slides and slides which
mark the beginning of a section within your presentation.
- PowerPlugs:Transitions work very well with presentations that contains lots of images - for instance, a company catalog (kiosk style presentation) or a family picture album.
If you have to buy one or two volumes, choose volumes IV and V since they are the best in my opinion. If you want to buy all volumes, seriously consider buying the whole Ultimate Combo suite since that gives you so much more for a little more money.