PowerPoint Powerup: Ovation

I recently had the realization that PowerPoint is possibly the standard graphics tool of the modern office, at least for non-graphics professionals. So, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for interesting uses of it; it could be a great selling point to be able to tell prospective clients, “yep, I can make all that cool flashy stuff, and it will work with PowerPoint”. On the other hand, the prospect of using PowerPoint makes me a little ill.

There’s a new product in particular that promises to take some of the “ick” out of of PowerPoint, Ovation from Serious Magic. They’re known for making another cool product called DVRack, which allows you to use a PC laptop as a high-quality video monitor for your DV camcorder, “replacing $10,000 of studio gear” with a piece of software. You could call it the video equivalent of Reason, the kick-ass virtual music production studio. But I digress.

From what I could tell from the video demo, Ovation takes your boring PowerPoint files as input, parses them, and then enables you to apply motion graphics effects and video backgrounds in real-time. It comes with pre-built templates, but they actually look pretty cool. Visually, they reminded me of slick DVD menus.

Ovation does more than convert your PPT, it actually includes a presentation system that turns your laptop into a teleprompter. The program sends your presentation full-screen out through the secondary video port, and the laptop screen is used as your prompter. Very cool! You can download the beta at the Serious Magic website. I haven’t had a chance to install it yet, but it sounded cool enough to try.

On a side note, I like the way Serious Magic integrates their videos into their website. It’s nice to see video that actually shows and communicates the value of a product.

Serious Magic seem to have a lot of other cool products, like Ultra (a video keying program) and Visual Communicator (some kind of non-technical video presentation creator). I like what they seem to be doing, but the software experience may be something else altogether. Will it have the robust yet refined feel of Google’s Picasa 2, or will it be cursed with the same confusion and sluggishness that plagues Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 3? I’m very curious.