The first problem occurred with some very complex animations.
The animations played exactly the same, but they actually
ran a bit slower than the native PowerPoint format. That
being said, these were quite complex combinations of animations.
The second problem was related to adding slide transitions
and then converting the slides into individual Flash files.
When this was done, the visual part of the transition was
fairly accurate and the audio was right on target. However,
the problem occurred when you used a different transition
for a subsequent slide. When you choose individual Flash
files for your output, the first transition in the sequence
isn't replaced with subsequent transition selections. While
this is a problem, it only occurs when you chose single Flash
files with no player. It should also be noted that CPS Labs
has reviewed this problem and will be fixing it in a maintenance
While the advanced
animation conversion capabilities will certainly win over some PowerPoint
users, it is the media improvements that most of my clients will like.
The biggest change in the audio department is the ability to use PowerPoint’s
own narration feature to record audio and then retain
the narration in the converted Flash files. This is especially nice
for less technically inclined users because adding narration within
PowerPoint is easier than utilizing an outside program to create the
necessary audio files.
While audio does
a terrific job of communicating your message, sometimes it’s really video that you want. With video support in FlashSpring
Pro 2.0 you can take advantage of PowerPoint’s ability to add
video and be assured that clips will be retained in your
converted presentation. Both of these features worked extremely
well for me. With the narration option, the only adjustment in my recordings
I needed to make was to ensure I left a little bit of silence
at the end of each slide, as FlashSpring cuts the audio quite close
when converting the presentation into individual Flash files.
The video conversion also worked beautifully, but be forewarned that
the video files might actually increase in size from the original (unlike
the PowerPoint slides which invariable decrease dramatically). In one
case my WMV file almost tripled in size when using the default compression
options. That being said, FlashSpring does enable you to make your own
adjustments to video compression and I suggest you explore these options
on your own.
Improvements continue in the area of image conversion. The primary
change is with vector representation. To put it simply, vector graphics
are one of the primary reasons Flash files are so small. In version
2.0 FlashSpring Pro has been optimized for PowerPoint 2002 and 2003
files so that all standard PowerPoint shapes are now represented via
vector technology. The end result is that when PowerPoint shapes are
used you retain high quality image and get a very small file size. The
second improvement is the support for images as list bullets. Although
I had not used customized images for bullets in the past, this can be
a key component to styling a presentation. Suffice it to say that if
you're using them, FlashSpring will convert them perfectly. Both of
these new features performed extremely well.
The last area of improvement is the player technology. In v1.5 the
full player was fairly basic and you had little control over the look
and feel. In v2.0 you have new options which include player customizations,
converting slides into individual Flash files or a single large Flash
file, and combining any of these options. Best of all, each of these
output options looks great. The customizable player allows you to include
thumbnail view, outline view, slide notes and presenter information,
or variations of these options. You can also adjust the hue, which is
basically color shade and the color saturation or lightness. The presenter
option lets you add a presenter photo and personal information such
as a bio, email or web site.
What I liked best about all of these options was the flexibility
and ability to combine them in different ways. However, there
were a few downsides I did notice. While customizing the
color of the Flash player was quite easy, the controls and
naming of them probably make more sense to those who are
familiar with graphic design. Personally I would like to
have seen something more straightforward like a color picker
with a couple options for lightness or contrast. I was also
surprised to find that the published Flash version of the
presenter web address and email address were not clickable
and would not activate or launch their respective targets.
This seems like an obvious need which could be addressed
in a maintenance release.
FlashSpring Pro 2.0 makes a strong move forward, adding
key functionality and improved conversion support in the
areas of animation, sound, movies and images. While there
were some minor shortcomings in some of these new features,
the overall leap forward is quite strong. I was also pleased
to find that CPS Labs' excellent technical support remains
stellar. Helpful, timely responses to queries and problems
can make all the difference when using software. FlashSpring
Pro 2.0 is becoming a product to beat in the area of high
quality PowerPoint to Flash conversion technology. Highly