An Animation for Success: Sinking the Putt


Here’s a widely understood metaphor for success:

The “secret” to this animation involves dropping the ball into the hole.

The green is in two parts, the foreground and the background; the foreground is In Front of the background. The hole is at the boundary of the two parts. Here’s a sketch:


The foreground shape is a Rectangle; I Subtracted (a Merge Shapes option) an Oval to get the cutout for the hole. The background is similar; I Edited Points to get the curve on the top. Two Ovals representing the cup are In Back of the background shape.

The ball must start In Front of the foreground shape and move (with a Shrink) to the edge of the cup but it must fall In Back of the foreground. A single object can’t be both In Front and In Back of another object so the ball object must be replaced with another ball before it drops. Another sketch:


So, after the “front” ball reaches the edge of the hole, it Disappears and the “back” ball Appears before dropping behind the foreground. Here are some details:

  • The front ball is a 0.6 in diameter circle. I drew a “target” ball (0.3 in diameter) at the edge of the hole and set Drawing Guides at the center of the target ball. I drew the motion path (a Custom Path) so that the end point is at the intersection of the target drawing guides. Faithful readers will recognize this technique.

Later versions of PowerPoint display a ghostly image of the object when motion paths are drawn. This is meant to be helpful in constructing the motion path by indicating the location of the object as the path is drawn. In simple cases this is useful but I find that the motion path endpoint can be set more accurately using the “target” drawing guides.

Also, the “ghost” does not take into account other animations (e.g., Grow/Shrink or Spin) that occur With the motion path.  So, when other animations are involved, the ghost image of the original object is not very helpful.

  • I added a 50% Grow/Shrink With the motion path.
  • To make the putt more dramatic, the motion path has a double curve:


  • Also, I used the “Smooth End” option to make the ball  slow down and come to a dramatic pause on the edge of the cup:


  • The original ball Disappears and a second smaller ball Appears and drops into the cup.
  • The rest of the slide is made of objects layered as indicated in this sketch:


This simple, “flat” style is better than a more realistic rendering – it’s cleaner and less distracting. It’s also easier (and trendy). I used several clip art examples from the web for inspiration.

But what about the sound effect??? This is the first time I have used sound in these posts (if you didn’t hear the sound in the video above, you may have your speaker muted) and I don’t think I can get away without some comments on sounds.

In the first place, I am not convinced that sound effects are appropriate in the typical stand-up conference room presentation.  They can easily be distracting and off-putting; especially if they are over-used or used inappropriately. In larger venues, sound from your presenting device/laptop may not be supported. As with many PowerPoint features, some discretion is called for.

On the other hand, sound is certainly useful for web videos and similar applications; narrations and music (as well as sound effects) can be quite effective.

Here’s how the ball drop sound effect is done:

  • This particular sound effect is free from There dozens of sites that can provide a bewildering array of sound effects, not all free but not expensive. A favorite of mine is
  • Find out what audio formats are supported by PowerPoint here.
  • After you’ve downloaded the clip, use Insert/Audio/Audio on my PC to insert the audio clip. A speaker icon/image will appear on your slide along with a small player bar.
  • The Audio Tools/Playback tab will appear. Under Start, select Automatically; this option places the audio clip on the Animation pane so that it can be synchronized with the animation.

Apparently, the PowerPoint designers thought the primary use of audio would be that the presenter/viewer would manually click on the speaker icon to hear the audio (I’ve never used sound this way). So, when you select Start/On Click (the default), that’s the way it works. The clip will appear in the Animation Pane but will run only when the icon (the “trigger”) is clicked.

By the way, the Format option under Audio Tools simply provides the usual picture tools  applied to the icon; it has nothing to do with the audio.

  • You can select an option so that the speaker icon does not appear during slide show mode; I usually just move it off the visible slide space.
  • I used the Trim Audio to shorten the clip – the ball rattled around too long in the original clip, I thought. Trimming was surprisingly straightforward.
  • You can apply many of the usual animation options to an audio clip in the Animation Pane. Unfortunately, PowerPoint animation does not recognize the duration of the clip; it treats it as an instantaneous event. This means that synchronizing audio with animation effects may require some trial and error.
  • I positioned the clip to occur With the final ball drop; here’s the final animation pane (annotated):


Added 7/8/2015: A reader asked if “3d shading could be added to the ball and still make it roll realistically.” First, PowerPoint “3d” and animation don’t play together. There’s an example of applying animation to a 3d object in this post on 3d gears. And I don’t think it can be faked; the Spin rotation is in the plane of the slide rather than “in” to the slide. If the animation were “flat” (e.g. horizontal) a Spin might be convincing. In short, don’t expect too much from PowerPoint animation, Thanks, reader, for the comment.

As usual, use the form below to request a free copy of the PowerPoint file for this project. If you don’t receive a response in a few days, you may have made an error in your email address.

1 Response to “An Animation for Success: Sinking the Putt”

  1. 1 Animation Projects: Arriving and Departing | powerpointy Trackback on July 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm

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