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  Animated Talking Characters Add Pizzazz to PowerPoint Presentations
Animated Talking Characters Add Pizzazz to PowerPoint Presentations
By Jinny Gudmundsen
May 18th, 2002
As the school year draws to a close, many students need to wrap up projects with a presentation. If your children are in middle school or beyond and they want to create a multimedia presentation, the computer program of choice is most likely “Microsoft PowerPoint.” With “Vox Proxy,” a new software add-on to PowerPoint, students (and adults) can enliven their presentations by inserting animated talking characters.

 Best Pick Award Microsoft PowerPoint 2002
Published on May 18th, 2002
 5 Stars

PowerPoint 2002 PowerPoint was first introduced by Microsoft in 1995 as a business presentation application. It soon made its way into schools because it was so easy to use.

PowerPoint provides a simple set of tools to create visual enhancements to accompany a speech or presentation. Instead of using overheads, presenters now use PowerPoint “slides” to accompany a speech. The slides appear on the computer screen or a connected projector. As the presenter talks, he or she controls how and when the slides advance.

Unlike overheads, PowerPoint slides animate. Bulleted points can enter on the left and slide into position as the presenter speaks. Highlighted words or concepts can pop out of a spinning mass of letters. Graphics can slowly unfold, and movies appear.

To create a presentation, PowerPoint contains a set of templates, which coordinate the background colors, the graphics, and the fonts so that the writer need only type in the desired content. With a click of a button, students can add dramatic transitions between slides; and they can add video, graphics, sound, graphs, and tables.

PowerPoint’s step-by-step interface makes creating a multimedia presentation a breeze. With this tool, kids can focus on their content instead of worrying about how to make their presentation look good.

If you’re a student or a parent of a student, the most economical way to buy “PowerPoint 2002” is as part of a $149 bundle called “Microsoft Office XP Standard for Students and Teachers.”(Windows only). “PowerPoint 2002” is also sold as a stand-alone product for $339 (Windows or Mac).

Age  10 - 99 Platform  Windows Mac
Price  $149.00 Category  Presentation
Grade  ISBN 
Company  Microsoft

 Best Pick Award Vox Proxy
Published on May 18th, 2002
 5 Stars

The Peedy character from Vox Proxy “Vox Proxy” works in conjunction with “PowerPoint” to allow presenters to insert talking, animated characters into their presentations. The characters add a new element of entertainment to PowerPoint presentations. Some characters can be serious, but most are whimsical.

When loaded, a Vox Proxy menu is added to the PowerPoint interface. Vox Proxy only runs with PowerPoint 2000 or 2002. It is easy to learn because it offers an excellent set of animated tutorials.

Users can choose from 21 3-D characters found in a drop-down list, or they can download additional characters from the Internet. Presenters control a Vox Proxy character by writing a “script” for how the character will move, animate, and talk. The useful “Script Wizard” walks you step-by-step through the scripting process, making Vox Proxy incredibly easy to use.

Vox Proxy animated characters can present the PowerPoint material by pointing to it or they can speak what is on the slide. Vox Proxy characters can react to the presenter’s voice commands; and they can even talk with other animated characters, the audience, or to the presenter—the possibilities are endless. They can be programmed to speak in foreign languages, too.

Vox Proxy uses text-to-speech technology and allows you control how the speech is heard by adding emphasis to a word, changing the pitch and speed of the speech, and controlling the loudness. There is even a special pronunciation dictionary that allows the user to tweak how a word is spoken.

Presenters will find cartoon men and women, but kids will be drawn to the more entertaining characters like Peedy the talking parrot and Merlin, a wizard-with-an-attitude. In a recent presentation to a group of middle school students for Career Day, I was able to make the room laugh by programming Peedy to extravagantly introduce me, and then lean into the audience and whisper “I am such a kiss-up!”

With Vox Proxy, kids learn so much more than simply how to create an interesting presentation. They learn logic and programming skills as they make adorable characters do their bidding. While PowerPoint presentations help keep an audience interested, Vox Proxy characters will keep an audience riveted.

Age  10 - 99 Platform  Windows
Price  $69.95 Category  Presentation
Grade  ISBN 
Company  Right Seat Software, Inc
(303) 278-2244

All software is judged on a five star scale by looking at the following five factors: educational, fun, ease of use, value, technical.

Jinny Gudmundsen is the Editor of Computing With Kids magazine. If you have questions or comments, please write to: .