Building Your Story – More Construction Equipment


The last post introduced the idea of using metaphorical construction equipment to build your PowerPoint story. The post before that showed you how to use animation to introduce list items. This post continues the theme with more construction equipment animations.

Here’s the first example; the folks over at Acme Services, Inc., use an electromagnetic crane to introduce their customer service principles:

The electromagnetic crane is an easy animation because the load simply drops when the magnet is turned off. Of course, its important that the audience recognizes this kind of equipment.

Here are notes on this example:

  • The hook assembly is pretty simple except for the hook itself:


  • I used Merge Shapes to draw the hook: I applied Union to the circle and square (red) and Subtracted the green oval and then the tilted green square. The rest of the assembly is made from standard PowerPoint shapes. Here’s the hook and magnet drawing:


  • The “load” is a Rectangle with text in an impressive font. The gradient fill for the rectangle suggests steel. I added a Bevel/Relaxed Inset to the rectangle and a Bevel/Soft Round and a darker fill color to the text:


  • Each animation opens with the crane assembly with the load dropping and pausing above the final load position. Then the load drops to the final position and the crane assembly lifts upward. I started by drawing two target rectangles on the slide, one for the pause position of the load and another for the final position.
  • I placed the load and crane assembly in their initial relationship above the slide and added a Line/Down motion path to the load. I set the end point at the “pause” location and accepted the default Smooth Start/Stop for the motion path. Here’s what this looks like:


  • Using the Animation Painter, I copied the load motion path to the crane assembly. Since the motion paths are identical, the crane assembly and the load will move down together (see the previous post for more on this).
  • I added a Down motion path to the load to get it to the final position; I selected the Bounce end option for realism.
  • The Up motion path was added to the crane assembly to complete the first phase. Here’s the animation pane:


  • To create the two additional phases, I copied the slide and added the previous load in its final position. The I moved everything else on the slide,  including the red boxes, up, positioning the final position of the current load (red box) just above the previous load(s). The animation is preserved and works for the second and third phases!  The animation takes three slides; here’s the second slide.


The next example is a tower crane; here the “carrier” moves the load on a horizontal boom:

Here are the notes:

  • Here’s how the boom is constructed:


  • First, draw a Trapezoid (red) and rotate it to use as a guide. Draw a smaller Trapezoid and add diagonal lines (blue). Group the Trapezoid and lines and adjust the height only to form a section of the boom structure. Continue duplicating and adjusting to form the rest of the boom. Delete the guide and group the result. Add the stay cable (diagonal line).
  • Now, place the boom and other crane objects (carrier, hook assembly, “straps” and the load) in their initial position. The hook assembly is the same as the last example; the other objects are simple shapes. Add two “targets” (red rectangles) representing the intermediate and final position of the load:


  • Add the Line Right motion path to move the load to the intermediate position. (For each of these steps, preview the animation to confirm the effect.)
  • Add the Line Down motion path (no Smooth Start or Stop) to the load to move it to the final position.
  • Using the Animation Painter, copy the load animations to the hook assembly and the two straps. You will have to re-order and adjust items in the Animation Pane as this process continues to get the correct relationships among the effects.
  • Add the Line Up motion path (no Smooth) to the load to move it back to the intermediate position.
  • Add the Line Left motion path to the hook and carrier to return them to the off-slide position. You will have to edit the default Line motion path, adjusting its start and end points to move the objects from their current positions to the off-slide position. Since motion paths “snap” together, this is relatively easy.
  • Here’s the animation at this point:
  • Something’s missing, right?  I’ll add the missing piece of cable and use Stretch and Collapse to fill the gap when the the hook is lowered.
  • The size and position of the added cable object is critical for a smooth animation; I used temporary copies of the carrier and hook along with Drawing Guides to get this right:


  • Next, add the Stretch/From Top and Collapse/To Top effects and place them at the appropriate point in the Animation Pane.
  • Also, add Collapse/From Top to the “straps” holding the load before the hook rises. Here’s an annotated version of the final Animation Pane (the clicks are for convenience in testing the animations):


As I have mentioned before, only a few effects have the Smooth Start/Stop options; in particular, the Stretch/Collapse effects don’t. So, I zeroed out the Smooth options in some of the motion paths so that the motion would synchronize with the Stretch/Collapse of the cable object.

The order of steps in the animation process is not arbitrary; it is meant to maximize the use of the Animation Painter and make the process a little easier.

I have a couple more machines in mind for these kinds of animations; I’ll show you those in the next post.

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – more construction equipment

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

If you want to contact me directly, there is a contact form on the About page.


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