By Terry Currier
Vox Proxy (version 2) is a plug-in for PowerPoint. If used properly PowerPoint helps to make a presentation flow. Vox Proxy uses 3D animated characters to enhance and make a PowerPoint presentation more entertaining and fun. I like using PowerPoint (I really do.) You just have to be careful not to over do it. Too many effects and the audience may wonder if the presentation is for them or for the presenter to play with.
One of the rules for a good presentation is not to have everything listed in the slide. The presenter must be part of the show and not have the people have to read everything. Vox Proxy characters help to become another presenter. It can explain in more detail something on the slide. Don’t get me wrong, it should not replace the human interaction or the presenter becomes a prop.
Vox Proxy works by first creating a script. With that script you choose the 3D character from a list of 27 both men and female. When you choose the character you also can choose the voice to be used. There is a list of 8 men and 2 women voices. The voices are not bad, but they do still have the sound of computer generation. You then can type what you want the character to do or say directly into the script, or work with the wizard. This uses a text to speech engine. You can record what is to be said into a WAV file and have Vox Proxy “say” that. It will speak other languages if you have a Text-To-Speech engine that supports the language. Vox Proxy supports multiple TTS engines within the same script so that characters can have a conversation in different languages or a single character can speak in multiple languages. In other words, what ever languages you load onto your computer it will work with. Text-To-Speech engines in several languages are included with Vox Proxy. AT& T has an enhanced TTS with better human sound. The cost of it is $60 which you can get at www.naturalvoices.com. It comes with 10 text to speech engines so you can have it speak in Spanish (2), German(2), French, British English (2), English (4), and one Indian-accent English voice.
They include some really good tutorials for the user to go through before making a script. You really do have to look at the tutorials it will take about 50-60 minutes to go through them. After that work with the wizard for a while to get the feel of how it works. Also look at how the tutorials are set up. This is your best way to using it. Even with the wizard I still had a little start up problems, nothing bad. Vox Proxy uses Microsoft agents (the characters) providing them animation. The script is actually a program to have the character do what you want.
There is interaction between the presenter, the character, and the presentation. You can have the character just appear and say something if you want, but doing something more will take time to learn. Again the tutorials are not just a good learning place, but they are also good to watch and get ideas. The Script Wizard helps you to have the character say, do, move, or gesture. Each character has a list of moves, commands, gestures, and facial expressions. By the way within the box that previews the character they have a hyperlink to the creator of the characters website. I highly recommend going to them to get more characters (can’t have enough.) I downloaded some great ones from e-clips.com.au.
Within the script you can have it do some PowerPoint commands such as click, or go to the next slide. During the presentation you can have the option of speech balloons that are displayed when a character speaks or thinks. They can help to show what the character is saying in case someone does not hear what is said. As part of the presentation you can put in commands to play a video file, read or just show a Excel or Word file.
Vox Proxy cost $199 as an option you can purchase a CD prep which allows users to burn the presentation to an auto-starting CD. That option will bring the total cost to $228.95. Not for the casual user, but if you do a lot PowerPoint presentations this is a product that will help make them even better. www.voxproxy.com
Minimum System Requirements
PowerPoint® 2000 or 2002
128 MB RAM
150MB free disk space
Screen resolution: 800 x 600 minimum
300 MHz or faster processor
Microphone if you use VP speech recognition
From our April 2004 newsletter
nually for individuals with $5 for each additional family member. The newsletter is emailed to the members in PDF format.
Winners is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) is an international, platform-independent, nonprofit corporation (incorporated in Washington, DC) devoted to helping user groups throughout the world. Almost 400 user groups are members of APCUG. http://www.apcug.net/