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Speech-Over Professional 4

Reviewed:

Date Created: December 8th 2009
Last Updated: December 8th 2009






Introduction
About Speech-Over Professional 4
New Features
Using Speech-Over Professional 4
Pricing and Support
Conclusion


Introduction

It's often very time-consuming and expensive to record voice-overs with professionals -- of course you can record your own voice these days but not everyone is entirely audible and has the proper pronunciation, vocal control, and confidence to do that. And trust me -- lots of users want to add high quality narration to their PowerPoint presentations so that these can be shown as a sequential walkthrough without a live presenter.

Fortunately, a product that we have reviewed in the past has been updated to make this task automatic, easy, and usable!

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About Speech-Over Professional 4

Speech-Over Professional 4 is from Tuval Software Industries, a company based in Israel. You can learn more about the product, and download a trial version of Speech-Over Professional 4 from their site...

Speech-Over Professional 4 is a PowerPoint add-in that allows adding professional voice-over to PowerPoint presentations which helps creating e-learning, training and web presentations. The add-in allows adding two types of component audio clips:

  1. Shape Narration Clip - Added when a single shape is selected on the PowerPoint slide and plays when the shape is animated in the slide show. This is used for narration and explanation of individual items, text, or graphic on a slide.
  2. Slide Narration Clip - Added when the slide background is selected and plays in the background when the slide is displayed in the slide show, for narrating non-animated slides.

In simple terms, the former plays on animation of a shape, and the latter plays when a slide is played.

My contact at Speech-Over Professional 4 for this review was Joel Harband -- thank you, Joel.

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New Features

Indezine has already reviewed Speech-Over 2.5 and Speech-Over 1. Speech-Over Professional 4 is the new version with these extra features:

  • Windows Vista compatible.
  • Two new professional TTS (Text to Speech) voices added: male voice Paul from NeoSpeech female voice Heather from Acapela Group.
  • Voices are licensed for commercial use.
  • Control speed, volume, pitch, delay and emphasis of voice. Controls are integrated into the text with special characters.
  • Import text from Notes pane.
  • Scroll long subtitles.
  • The new pronunciation lexicon allows TTS (Text to Speech) voices to speak any word correctly. Enter the word into the lexicon with its phoneme representation, which is available from standard online dictionaries, and the voice will recognize and speak it.
  • Load sound files to be played as background to the voice track.
  • Easy access to tools for Acapela voices: Phoneme Lexicon and Voice Manager.
  • Edit voice sound files directly with Sound Recorder.
  • Context sensitive help.

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Using Speech-Over Professional 4

Download the installer from the link given above, run the setup routine and follow the instructions.

Speech-Over installs as a set of options within the Add-ins tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2007 (and possibly later versions). In addition, it also creates a new tab in the Ribbon called Speech-Over (see Figure 1). Since options in both locations are duplicated, we will explore only the Speech-Over tab within this review.

Speech-Over tab on the Ribbon
Figure 1: Speech-Over tab on the Ribbon

When installed, follow these steps to add a narration to a PowerPoint presentation using the options .

  1. Open any existing presentation or create a new presentation. Make sure you save the presentation.

  2. Based on the component to which you want to add the narration, make the suitable selection. For this tutorial I'll add the narration to the selected text placeholder object on the slide as you can see in Figure 2.

    Add narration to New Shape Clip
    Figure 2: Add narration to New Shape Clip

  3. With the text placeholder selected, click the New Shape Clip option in Clips group within the Speech-Over tab on the Ribbon (refer to Figure 2).

  4. This brings up the Add (or Edit) Narration Clip on Shape dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.

    Add Narration Clip on Shape
    Figure 3: Add (or Edit) Narration Clip on Shape

  5. Under Narration, choose Speech Voice option and from the voice scheme choose any of the voice profiles.

    Note: I have used the new VW Paul TTS voice that come with the product.


    You can change the Preferences (for example, to eliminate subtitles or set voice quality) by clicking the Preferences button in the dialog box -- this opens the Preference dialog box shown in Figure 4.

    Preferances
    Figure 4: Preferences

    Change preferences as required -- and choose Save and Exit to get back to the Add Narration Clip dialog box.

    The text that appears in the lower text box will be spoken by the voice. Initially, the selected slide text appears, and you can add text to this as desired. To fine-tune the voice modulation, you can control the speed, volume, pitch, delay and emphasis of the voice within the spoken section using the buttons above the text box. Difficult-to-pronounce words can be handled by the new Pronunciation Lexicon.

  6. Click OK to get back to the slide. This will add the narration clip on the slide along with a subtitle caption that includes the narration text. Save the presentation, you can find the created narration clip within a subfolder where the presentation was originally saved. It also adds an animation effect to the slide object (or links to an existing one) that animates the object when its narration clip is played.

  7. You can preview the narration and animations for the slide by clicking the Slide Show toolbar option in tool group under Speech-Over tab on the Ribbon (refer to Figure 1).

  8. You can add narration to more slides and slide objects in the same way.

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Speech-Over Tab Options

All the options of Speech-Over Professional 4 tab are explained below:

Speech-Over Professional 4 tab Options
Figure 5: Speech-Over Professional 4 tab Options

  1. Clips - In this group you'll find tools to add narration to selected shapes in a slide or to the entire slide; a tool to delete the narration clip; provide names to the slide selection and Clip Organizer which opens a dialog box that you can see in Figure 6. This displays the selected slide object's Properties, and you can view the narration clips that compose the slide narration. You can even add a slide clip by clicking the Add Slide Clip button.

    Clip Organizer
    Figure 6: Clip Organizer

  2. Edit Clips - Here you'll find basic edit options such as Copy, Paste, and Undo, which move clips from one shape to another as well as Refresh Notes, and Refresh All.

  3. Tools - The first option in this group is the Notes Editor, when clicked this opens the Edit Slide Clips Content dialog box (see in Figure 7). Here you can change the text content which is used in the narration for all clips on the slide. Slide Show option enables you to preview the slide with the narration clip added; Preferences opens a dialog box (refer to Figure 4 above). Register displays whether the add-in is registered or not and lets you register the trial version.

    Edit Slide Clips Content
    Figure 7: Edit Slide Clips Content

  4. Help - Help takes you to the Speech-Over support page. The About option displays the Speech-Over splash screen, and Document Properties allows the user to add the Author name and presentation details.

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Pricing and Support

Speech-Over Professional 4 and two premium quality TTS voices: Paul from Neospeech and Heather from Acapela Group with voice license for commercial use costs for $299.

Support is through e mail, telephone, and FAQ.

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Conclusion

Even if you need to do professional presentations with studio quality voice-overs, Speech-Over Pro 4 is an amazing product that can act as a stop-gap measure until you finalize the script and get the voice-overs recorded. Who knows, you may like the new TTS voices and use them instead of a recording -- it's quick and easy, and you can't beat that. The price is right too, and with version 4, Speech-Over Pro is a highly mature product.

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