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Dramatic 3D Animated Designs with OfficeFX

If you explore some of the offerings from Crystal Graphics, they have some animated video backgrounds that will dramatically change the look of your presentation.

But the company that is probably leading the way in this arena is Instant Effects, which publishes the OfficeFX Add-On for PowerPoint.

OfficeFX is probably best employed in scenarios where you have a dramatic live event, perhaps even with multiple screens. Users of this software have included some of the major automotive and pharmaceutical companies. Essentially, OfficeFX takes your PowerPoint design and transforms it into a real-time photorealistic 3D background, with motion graphics and 3D objects that you can move and turn as you present.

Using the toolbar that appears when you install OfficeFX, you can choose from an entirely new gallery of 3D backgrounds and instantly apply them to your slide show. It's an instant design transformation, taking an ordinary set of bullets and putting them into an entirely new environment, like the seascape shown in Figure 2-28, complete with a swimming dolphin and newly shaped bullets.

Figure 2-28

Figure 2-28 OfficeFX can instantly give your presentation a dramatic animated 3D design with motion graphics and moving objects.

It all takes place within the OfficeFX tabbed menu, where you first choose a theme from a gallery and then fine-tune it to work with your current content: titles, bullets, and graphical elements. Going slide by slide, you make subtle adjustment to the implementation of the theme as you move through your presentation, as shown in Figure 2-29.

Figure 2-29

Figure 2-29 The OfficeFX menu lets you apply a theme and fine-tune its implementation throughout your presentation, either changing or preserving your text and graphics.

As of the time of writing, OfficeFX recognizes

  • Drawing order of all content
  • Text fonts, sizes, placement, colors, and bullets
  • Content transparency, color, line effects, and bit map inclusion
  • Custom animation effects, triggers, and timings for all content and media (with some limitations for Effect Options—currently with respect to sequentially introducing PowerPoint diagrams and charts)
  • Audio and video
  • Hyperlinks (within the same PowerPoint file—not externally)
  • Slide Masters and Backgrounds (alternately with its own themes, which you determine within the interface)
  • Auto Advance slide timings and Kiosk mode

By using the Colors tab of the Options panel, you can decide whether the color you've chosen in PowerPoint or the FXTheme will control the appearance of elements like text, shape fills, and lines.

3D objects created in Autodesk 3D Studio Max can also be imported into OfficeFX slides and manipulated in real time (see Figure 2-30).

Figure 2-30

Figure 2-30 3D objects created in 3D Studio can be imported into and manipulated in OfficeFX slides.

OfficeFX also really shines with video, which we will cover in greater detail in Chapter 5, "Using Video and Audio Effectively."

But it's worth noting that OfficeFX can map video onto 3D objects and import and export video files as part of its functionality in the Publish tab. A video mapped onto a 3D object is shown in Figure 2-31.

Figure 2-31

Figure 2-31 OfficeFX can map video onto objects as they display in your slide.

Essentially, OfficeFX takes PowerPoint into the production or broadcast arena—printing slides is probably less important to an OfficeFX user than outputting them to video and perhaps posting the video to a web server.

Using the program is obviously an important initial design decision—for one thing, using OfficeFX at a show does require some preparation in terms of hardware. You will need a very powerful graphics card (64MB of video RAM is the minimum recommended) and some other software modifications. More and more laptops are being released that are OfficeFX ready.

It also involves something of a learning curve. Although the menu is straightforward, getting the graphics to perform just the way you want will take you a bit beyond ordinary PowerPoint.

The complete set of OfficeFX hardware and software requirements as well as purchase options and other information can be found at http://www.instanteffects.com.

Here are two things to keep in mind when using OfficeFX:

  • Save your OfficeFX presentation within the OfficeFX menu as a separate file.
  • Practice presenting from within OfficeFX to take advantage of its capabilities.

You can maintain a prior version of the unaltered PowerPoint presentation to return to in the event that you do not want to use OfficeFX's design decisions later on.

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