PowerPlugs: Transitions

Read the Indezine review of PowerPlugs: Transitions.

So Many Questions

A PowerPoint transition is an effect that plays over a period of time that changes one slide to another. I know PowerPoint transitions can be cool but I'm in a strange situation because I'm fighting my own self! Have you ever experienced a state of mind that convinces you of two opposing views? And what do you do when both the views are actually valid. Well, you just procrastinate those thoughts - at least that's what I always did when Nicole from CrystalGraphics asked me to review their PowerPlugs:Transitions product.


Problems and Solutions

At one time, I actually enjoyed playing with PowerPoint transitions before I discovered happiness in sticking to normal wipes and fades. Since I provide guidelines on good presentation practices, I often advised people to use subtle transitions most of the time. At other times, I asked them to use a more attention-grabbing transition if they needed to focus on a single slide.

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.

This problem has an easy solution - it's the same solution used by large corporations, parents, governments and teachers and it's called balance.

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.


About PowerPlugs & CrystalGraphics

Nicole Ha is from CrystalGraphics, a Santa Clara based vendor of add-ins for most Microsoft Office products. She's been my contact for this review. Thank you, Nicole.

CrystalGraphics 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.


Installation & Requirements

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.


Using PowerPlugs: Transitions

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.


Packaging & More

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.


Pricing & Support

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.


In Conclusion

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 contain 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.