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Text to speech

Guest blog post by Erik Lord.

An earlier post on this blog offers Adobe Captivate Example Courses for download. Toward the end of that post is a quick mention and “how to” on Captivate’s text-to-speech functionality. The tutorial is helpful but just touches on the feature.

Recently a question came up in one of the help forums: “How do I install the Captivate 8 TTS voices?”
Surprisingly, a quick web search did not reveal an easy answer! So here’s a quick overview of Captivate 8’s text-to-speech features as well as some details on how to obtain the voices, install them, and a couple related options and further resource information.

First, the easiest way to access Captivate’s text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities is via the Audio > Speech Management option.


A dialogue box appears (shown a few pictures down), allowing you to select a slide and add the text which the selected voice will speak, at least to the best of its ability. Once you click the Generate Audio button at the bottom, the narration will be created and added to the slide’s timeline.

If you wish to progress more cautiously and/or have notes attached to each slide, then an alternative approach is to select Window > Slide Notes.


From the resulting dialog, select the Text-to-Speech button.


That will show the dialog box below for the slide that is currently selected in your Filmstrip pane. Here you can add the text you wish to have narrated, or perhaps its already there as true slide notes.


Either way, as you can see from the note at the bottom of that Speech Management dialog, I do not have the CP8 (NeoSpeech) voices installed, so the dialog tells me how to do that along with a download link. Note that link is for the 64-bit install, since that’s what I have, and won’t work for 32-bit installs; for 32-bit OS and CP installs, use this download link instead.

You would think those voice installers would be available on the main Captivate Download page, but they’re not, though the patches for the Captivate program itself are there (have you upgraded to the latest version?). This information, however, is buried in the Adobe Help pages and includes instructions for Mac users and seems to be leftover from Captivate 7 (as there are just five voices listed, not eight).
So download and install the proper voice package for your licensed CP8 install (under an Admin account!), restart Captivate, and those voice options should appear. Where previous versions of Captivate had five voices, CP8 adds three more for a total of eight “agents,” including a Korean voice, Yumi.

Another interesting note, as you may be able to see in the screenshot above, CP8 will pick up TTS voices installed within the Windows OS. What’s available there?
• Windows Vista, Windows 7: Microsoft Anna (Chinese releases have Microsoft Lili)
• Windows 8, 8.1: Microsoft David (“US male”), Microsoft Hazel (“UK female”), Microsoft Zira (“US female”)

The Windows 8 and 8.1 language packs offer even more voice languages, such as Chinese, French, German, Italian, etc. To hear these voices outside Captivate, go to the Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Speech Recognition. Then in the left-side pane, click Text to Speech. If you want read more about Microsoft’s TTS voices, Wikipedia has a lengthy article.

Overall, TTS is still very much a work-in-progress and I almost always prefer to use a “real,” professional narrator (and this blog has a few nice articles on recommendations for recording voiceovers). In a pinch, these options aren’t bad and much better than a couple of years ago. Additionally, using TTS agents can be a good way to test your proposed narration for audience review, ultimately replacing automated voices with “real” narrators once the scripts are finalized.

Tony Karrer has a great writeup on TTS Licensing and Pricing. Although from 2010, it’s still a great resource if you’re debating the pros and cons of TTS vs. live narration.

If you’ve stuck with this article and haven’t checked the earlier “Download Examples” post mentioned at the beginning, here’s a great article and subsequent discussion on the topic, and the video tutorial from the earlier eLearning Brothers post on how to use this feature in Captivate 8 is embedded below.

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