Archive for the 'tips' Category

Motion Backgrounds

In this blog, I’ve used motion (animations and sometimes video) to create visual metaphors, demonstrate processes and enhance my story. This post is more about using motion as a design element in slides, Layouts and Themes.

WARNING: Motion can be exciting and attention grabbing; it can also be distracting. (See my brilliant essay on “animation for a reason” for more on this.) So, these techniques may not be appropriate for all situations. For example, they are probably not acceptable for a staid business meeting, partly because they are distracting, but also because they are “non-standard.” On the other hand, they may be useful for training and certainly for promotional videos. You decide based on your audience and situation.

There are two main sources of motion in PowerPoint: animation and inserted videos. Transitions can also simulate motion; I have used video versions of transitions as animations – see this post. This post will explore the use of video and PowerPoint animation to create motion “backgrounds.”

In a live presentation, the length of time that a slide will appear can’t be predetermined. In these cases, you will want the background motion to continue until you move to the next slide. If you are creating a video using PowerPoint, you will want the motion to continue for a particular interval. You will have to deal with these considerations whether you use animations or video.

Video

If you search the web for “motion backgrounds” you will find hundreds of sources, many of which are “free.” (Some sites require a paid subscription to download “free” videos.) You will also find that the cost of purchasing videos is not prohibitive, at least for corporate budgets.

Abstract or “nature” videos are useful for motion backgrounds. Here’s an example of a (free) abstract video featuring a “bokeh” effect:

 

This is a 10 second video, designed as a loop – that is, it is intended to be seamlessly repeated. Note that the motion is largely confined to the edges of the frame allowing for text or other material to appear in the central space. Here’s a title page using the video as a background (this runs for 15 seconds):

 

Here are some notes:

  • I simply Inserted the video; it happened to be proportioned properly for my 16×9 (widescreen) slide layout.
  • I set Start/Automatically under Video Tools/Playback. This places the video as an event in the Animation Pane, where I set Start to After Previous. This assures that the video will start as the slide appears.
  • I also checked Loop until stopped in the Playback ribbon.
  • Even though I did not choose Start/On click, a Trigger item appears in the animation pane. I removed it (a trigger can be used to start an animation by clicking on the object).
  • Under Slide Show, I unclicked Show Media Controls; this prevents annoying playback controls from appearing during the slide show.

Now, consider a couple of problems.

First, there is a noticeable pause before the video repeats. I have tried this on a couple of PCs so I don’t think it’s a performance problem. I did a little research but found no help. If you know something about this, let me know. Otherwise, I will treat it as another PowerPoint failure. If you can’t tolerate the pause, skip ahead to the section on animations.

The second issue is not obvious in the demo above. In slide show mode, even if you have not chosen Play on click and removed the Trigger item from the animation list, a click on the video (which fills the screen in this case) will restart it and have no other effect. This makes it impossible for Mr. Potsgood (the presenter) to click to the next slide!

You can fix this by creating a slide-sized Rectangle, any color, setting the transparency to 99% and placing the Rectangle over the video object. This invisible shield will prevent a click from being interpreted as a “start video” operation and allow Mr. Potsgood to get on with his presentation.

Videos can be resized, cropped and re-colored. Here’s a content slide background featuring a video element:

 

Animations

Here’s an example of a slide layout with motion elements for the (fictional) Jetstream company:

 

Here’s the slide and animation pane for this example:

mb1.png

Some notes:

  • The shapes in the animation are made by applying Merge Shapes/Union to an Oval and a Triangle and applying a Soft Edge to the result.
  • The shapes are placed off the slide, two at the left and two at the right.
  • The animation is Fly In; the direction is selected so that the object will fly over the black Rectangle at the bottom of the slide.
  • Each animation is set with Repeat Until end of slide; the durations and start times are set as shown in the Animation Pane to create a “random” effect.

Here’s another “content” slide layout for a fictional organization:

 

Some notes:

  • The bubbles are Ovals with a Circle 3D Bevel and the Translucent Powder Material. My post on drawing spheres has additional information.
  • Up motion paths are applied to each bubble with Repeat Until end of slide.
  • The start time, duration and motion path length are adjusted to create “random” action. The length of the motion path contributes to the delay between repeats.
  • A background-filled (white) rectangle is placed on the slide in front of the bubbles but behind the slide content so that the bubbles do not appear in the content area of the slide.

To make more elaborate motions, it may be easier to animate groups of objects rather than a larger number of individual elements. Here’s an example:

 

This effect incorporates a group of small circles, duplicated four times.  The duplicates have been rotated a “random” amount. A Spin animation has been applied to each group and white rectangles added to form the borders. Here’s what the slide looks like:

mb2.png

The Spins are repeated and some are counterclockwise; I did not “radomize” the durations.

Here’s a similar example using the same groups but using Exit/Zoom In rather than Spin; the timings are random:

 

Overlapping shapes with semitransparent fill can be used; here’s an example using rectangles moving horizontally:

 

The motion paths move the rectangles from off the slide to the opposite side. Auto-reverse and Repeat are set. I took some care to assure that the motion paths are horizontal and the rectangles aligned. Timing is “randomized.”

Here’s a standard content slide with some motion added to the layout:

 

Some of the older marketing folks over at Acme were appalled at the liberties I took with their logo. What do you think?

Themes and Layouts

Every PowerPoint file has a “Theme” (sometimes called a ‘template”) that determines the appearance of the slides. Organizations usually create a standard Theme to assure a degree of uniformity in presentations.

In addition to setting the color scheme, default fonts and a few other details, a Theme includes a Master Slide and a number of Layouts.  Each slide in a PowerPoint file has an associated Layout that includes placeholders for the slide title, bullet list and other content. The Layout also includes default elements that will appear on the slide, usually including the logo and other design details.

To incorporate motion elements in a template, you create Layouts that include these elements. Usually, you will need a Layout for a presentation title slide, a “content’ slide that includes a slide title and a bullet list placeholder, a blank Layout (maybe including a slide title), and one or two section title Layouts. You will start with a built-in Theme and modify it by copying Layouts and editing them.

NOTE: The built-in Themes include a bewildering variety of Layouts (about a dozen). I never use most of these so I delete them in the interest of simplicity. My favorite layout is blank with a title.

Once you have completed the Layouts you need, you can save the Theme so that it becomes available for new presentations.

You can find help on the web for the details of creating Themes.

Here are a couple of notes that relate to Layouts with motion elements:

  • Objects that appear on Layouts are not accessible on slides that use those Layouts. For example, a Template user cannot directly modify or move a logo that appears on a Layout. This applies to animated objects and videos so that a user cannot inadvertently modify them.
  • Animate objects or videos in a Layout do not appear in the Animation Pane for the slides that use the Layout. This assures that a user can add additional animations without affecting the motion elements of the Layout.
  • Animation events or videos in a Layout “play” before any animations created by the user.

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 – Motion Backgrounds

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.

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PowerPoint Secrets: Rotation

I often rotate a shape to create a new shape, usually to fit into a layout or design. For example, in my post on jigsaw puzzles, I rotated puzzle pieces to create other pieces that fit into my puzzle layout. Sometimes I just need a new shape and the easiest way to get it is to rotate one of the standard shapes; here’s a standard Trapezoid and a copy rotated 90 degrees:

r1.png

There are three ways to rotate an object:

  • Freehand, clicking and dragging the “rotation handle.”  If you need a precise rotation (e.g., 20 degrees), freehand rotation may be difficult.
  • Using the Rotate tools. You can rotate precisely 90 degrees, right or left, or Flip  the object horizontally of vertically (a flip is not strictly a rotation – so sue me).
  • Using the Format Shape/Size pane and setting the value of Rotation (plus or minus degrees). This is the most precise way to rotate to a specific value.

So far, so good. However (there’s always a however), some characteristics of a shape depend on the rotation and some don’t. In the rest of this post I’ll try to demonstrate this and show you ways to control it.

NOTE: This is pretty arcane stuff. If you want a shorter version, skip to the Summary.

Fills

Most of the fill variations allow you to specify if you want the fill to rotate with the shape. Here’s a (deliberately garish) Gradient fill:

 

The original shapes (a Trapezoid and two rotated versions) are shown in red outline. The second column shows the result of the default fill; as you can see, the fill is rotated with the shape. The third column shows the results with the Rotate with shape option unchecked.

If the gradient is used to simulate the appearance of light on the surface of the object, it makes sense that the fill should not rotate with the shape.

Picture/Texture fill also has this option; here are examples:

r3.png

It may be useful to uncheck Rotate with shape with Picture fills; you can see that this will keep the picture upright even though the shape has been rotated. In the 30 degree rotation example, the X offset has been adjusted to keep the face near the center of the shape.

This option is not available for Pattern fill. Here are some examples:

r4.png

The fill pattern does not rotate with the shape. In the case of 90 degree rotation,  you can pick another version of the pattern to match the rotation (shown in red). Of course, this doesn’t help for other rotations. Converting to a picture before rotating causes the fill to rotate but JPG, PNG and GIF do not reproduce the fill pattern accurately. An EMF file appears to work. Notice that converted objects do not retain some features of the shape; e.g., the yellow adjustment handle.

Background Fill reflects the background regardless of rotation.

Shadows, etc.

Here’s how shadows are rendered for rotated shapes:

 

r5.png

A shadow is the result of a light source; if the shape is rotated, the shadow should stay in the same relative position. As you can see, the outer shadow is oriented correctly; the inner shadow is not.

For the 90 degree rotation, you can select a variation of the inner shadow that provides the correct result. A solution that works for all rotations is to create a version of the rotated shape that is, in fact, not rotated (the rotation handle is at the top, relative to the slide). Here’s how:

r6.png

I drew a rectangle (yellow) and Intersected it with the rotated trapezoid; the result is a rotated trapezoid with the handle on top. Be sure to select the rectangle first since the result of Intersect inherits the properties of the first shape selected. The inner shadow is now oriented correctly.  As before, the result is no longer a standard shape; e.g., the adjustment handle is missing.

You can think of this operation as “resetting the rotation handle.”

By the way, if your object is a group, you can reset the rotation handle by ungrouping the object and then grouping it again (you can use Regroup). A new group has an upright orientation regardless of the rotations of its components. Here’s an example:

The first row shows a group (Trapezoid and Right Arrow) followed by a 90 degree right rotation of a group. The rotation handle indicates its orientation. Next, the group is ungrouped and regrouped. The rotation handle of the result indicates its upright orientation.

This suggests that grouping a shape with an invisible shape (no fill/outline), ungrouping and regrouping will effectively reset the orientation (shown in the second row above). However, the invisible element may affect other operations on the object.

Reflection, Glow and Soft Edge effects are not affected by the rotation of the object.

3D Lighting and Rotation

These examples show an Oval with rotations and a 3D Bevel (the Bevel makes the 3D Lighting effect visible):

r8.png

The second column shows the highlight created by the lighting; notice that the highlight is rotated. Like a shadow, the highlight orientation should reflect (!) the environment, not the orientation of the object. You can adjust the Lighting Angle to correct this (a trial and error operation) or use an intersected version of the Oval (yellow) to correct the orientation of the highlight.

NOTE: PowerPoint’s attempt at 3d lighting has other problems, especially when two or more objects appear together; see my post on 3D cars for more on this.

3D Rotations are also affected by an existing (2d) rotation. Here are some examples (I added a small Depth to the shapes for clarity):

r9.png

The 3D Rotations of the rotated Trapezoid (second row) are unexpected, to say the least. The results of 3D Rotations of a version created by the intersection method (yellow) are correct.

NOTE: Modifying PowerPoint’s preset 3D rotations by adjusting the rotation values manually is a mystifying and generally unsatisfying process.

Text

Generally speaking, text objects and shapes exhibit the same behavior under rotation. So, the details you have learned (?) above apply to text.

However, text offers an additional rotation option called Text Direction – it offers four options for orienting text within the text box: horizontal (default), 90 degrees, -270 degrees and “stacked.”

TIP: A text object is always a “text box.” That means that text always has an enclosing shape, usually a rectangle. If you use the Format Shape pane, you will need to select Text Options to assure that the effects you select apply to the text and not the surrounding shape.

Here are some examples of Fill and Shadow applied to a text object and rotated versions:r10.png

As you can see, the same anomalies apply to rotated versions of the text as I described for rotated versions of shapes. Using an intersection (yellow) corrects the fill and shadow orientations. The “grouping” technique, however, does not correct the anomalies.

NOTE: The object created by the intersection technique is not text; i.e., it cannot be edited as text.

Here are some examples of 3D Lighting and 3D Rotation applied to a text character:r11.png

If the text box is rotated, the orientation of the highlight and the 3D rotation are incorrect (since the Shape is rotated). Using the Text Direction results in the correct orientations but there are limited options. Using Intersect to create a shape yields correct results.

There are seldom-used operations called Transforms that warp text into various shapes; these effects apply only to text. (In my version of PowerPoint, I can only find Transforms under Text Effects in the Drawing Tools ribbon.) There are thirty-six different transforms available; a few are actually useful.

NOTE: I used text transforms in my post on word clouds and my post on “wheels.”

Here are some results of applying Transforms to rotated text:

A transform (Triangle Down in the example) is always oriented relative to the rotation handle. You can’t create a different orientation using an intersection; the intersection is a shape and Transforms do not apply. In some cases, you may be select another transform that provides the result you want (Fade Right in the example).

Animations

Some animation effects have a direction option; Wipe and Fly In, for example. These animations always reference the slide, not the orientation of the object. Wipe/Up, for example, wipes towards the top of the slide regardless of the rotation of the object.

This is consistent, at least, but it does eliminate some possibilities – a diagonal Wipe, for example.

Summary

If you apply fills, shadows and 3d effects to shapes or text that have been rotated, you may not get the results you want. There are some techniques that might help:

  • Some effects have options (Gradient Fill for example) that change the results (“do not rotate fill with shape”, for example).
  • If the object is a rotated Group, you can reset the rotation by ungrouping and regrouping. You can group your shape with an invisible shape to reset the rotation handle. This doesn’t work with text.
  • Intersecting your shape or text with a rectangle creates an object that looks like the original but with the rotation handle on top – this will change the result of these effects (3D Rotation for example).

If you found this helpful (or if you didn’t) please share your question or opinion with a comment. If you want email updates when a new post appears, “follow” this blog.

Drawing in PowerPoint – Simplified Jigsaw Puzzles

I have written three posts on drawing jigsaw puzzles in PowerPoint (part 1, part 2 and part 3). A jigsaw puzzle can represent bringing together parts to form a whole: experts to form a service team, segments to form a market or parts of a solution, for example. The interlocking pieces suggest unity, interdependence or cooperation.

These earlier posts asked you to draw Freeform shapes for the pieces – a tricky task, especially making the pieces interlock seamlessly. Starting with a simpler puzzle layout and using standard shapes, along with Merge Shape tools, is a much easier and more accurate technique, especially if you’re not comfortable with Freeform drawing. Here’s a comparison of a puzzle piece from the earlier posts and a piece created using the simpler method:

spuz1.png

The first piece reflects the traditional jigsaw puzzle appearance; each piece is separately  created. The second piece is much simpler and there are only a relatively small number of variations.

It may also be that the simpler approach is graphically cleaner and more appealing; you can decide.

Here’s how:

  • I started by setting the grid spacing to 0.1 inches and setting Snap to Grid. This makes it easier to draw and position objects accurately.
  • Each puzzle piece is based on a 4×4 square. A rectangle forms the basis of the edges. The oval and a small rectangle will form a knob. Size the shapes so that they snap  to the grid. The oval just touches the top of the edge rectangle.

spuz2

  • Applying Merge Shapes/Union to the parts completes the “knob edge:”

spuz3

  • To create the “socket edge,” Subtract a copy of the knob edge (orange) from an edge rectangle:

spuz4.png

  • Now you can create a bunch of puzzle pieces using the knob and socket edges (plus a filler rectangle). You will need to rotate copies of  the edges; use Rotate 90 degrees and Flip for accurate rotations.:

spuz5.png

As a trial, duplicate this puzzle piece several times and apply the Union operation to the pieces. Rotate some of the trial pieces 90 degrees. The pieces should snap together precisely:

If this doesn’t work, the original parts of the piece were misaligned and should be corrected before proceeding. Small pixel size gaps are apparently unavoidable; ignore these.

Tiny steps in the piece outline or extra line segments after the Union operation indicate that the parts are misaligned:

I have found that the easiest way to correct this is to move one of the parts of the piece diagonally a short distance and then move the other pieces to realign them. Of course, the Snap To Grid option is essential (you didn’t ignore that, did you?).

All the puzzle pieces can now be made from these four parts – the “knob edge,” the “socket edge,” the straight edge and the filler rectangle:

spuz8.png

It’s a good idea to check Lock Aspect Ratio in the Size Pane for each part.

Duplicate, rotating if needed, selected parts, assemble carefully and apply Merge Shapes/Union to create the six basic puzzle pieces. Again, use Rotate 90 degrees or Flip to get accurate rotations:

You can create all of the (internal) puzzle pieces you need by rotating one of these six pieces.

You can make all the edge and corner pieces by rotating these nine basic pieces:

I will use a 3D Bevel to get a realistic puzzle piece. The appearance of the bevel is influenced by 3D Lighting which depends on the rotation of the piece:

 

The first row shows a puzzle piece and the same piece with Bevel applied. The second row shows the original piece rotated right 90 degrees and the rotated piece with the same Bevel applied. You can see that the results are different by comparing the top edge. This becomes more obvious when differently rotated pieces are assembled into a puzzle.

I want all the pieces in a puzzle to be uniform. Since many of the pieces will be rotated, I will want to reset the rotation handle on these pieces. To reset the rotation handle, Union the piece with an unrotated rectangle; here’s the process:

Select the rectangle first before the Union operation; an object created by a union inherits its properties from the first object selected.

NOTE: I plan a separate post on resetting the rotation handle for different kinds of objects.

Here’s a puzzle layout created from these pieces:

Here’s an application of this layout:

Rather than fill each piece with a fragment of the picture (as I did in the previous puzzle post), I used the puzzle layout as a semitransparent overlay with Bevel/Top/Circle to give each piece the rounded edge effect. The Material is Clear providing the transparency.

Here’s a 3D rotated version:

The 3D lighting caused the image to wash out so I increased the contrast of the image to compensate. I also added Depth to the underlying picture to create the edge.

If you want to animate the assembly or disassembly of this puzzle, each piece must separately contain a fragment of the image. In the original puzzle post, I did this with Fill/Picture; an easier way is to use Merge Shape/Intersect (see the post on animating breakthroughs for details of this method). Here’s a breakup animation using these techniques:

Each piece is animated by a motion path combined with Exit/Basic Zoom/In Slightly.

You can also assemble puzzle pieces with separate images to show a team, for example:

The original puzzle post used Fill/Picture to create the pieces. It’s easier to position the puzzle piece over the image and use Merge Shapes/Intersect:

For this kind of application, you may want to build your puzzle pieces with smaller knobs and sockets; this leaves more space for the individual pictures.

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 – simple jigsaw puzzles

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.

Let’s Make a Movie! – Creating Videos

bannner.jpg

You may want to make a video to advertise your wares or share your ideas on the internet. You can feature videos on your organization’s website, your blog, video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion or media like Facebook or LinkedIn. These sites far outreach any native PowerPoint sharing sites; PowerPoint is not an internet medium.

SlideShare, probably the largest presentation sharing site, actually converts PowerPoint to another form  (maybe Flash) and simply allows you to click through static “decks.”

Designing a Video

It’s easy to use PowerPoint to create a video; however, designing a video is considerably different from the usual conference room presentation.

  • The most obvious difference is that there is no presenter. In the usual circumstances, the presenter delivers the message interactively, supported by the slides. In a video, even with a narration, the crux of the message must be carried by text, images and animation.
  • Web videos are usually short and are have limited goals. For example, the video may be intended to make the viewer aware of a problem or an opportunity and to encourage the viewer to take a “next step” like visiting your website.
  • Animation and transitions are critical in capturing and managing the viewer’s attention. Movement makes your video much more engaging than a series of static “slides.” In fact, today’s viewer expects it.
  • The video may or may not have a narration but will usually employ audio; you will need to synchronize the audio and the visual effects.
  • Obviously, the “source” PowerPoint must be implemented to run autonomously without requiring clicks. The timing involved is an important aspect of the design.
  • To create a video from a PowerPoint file, select Export on the File tab and select Create a Video. I usually use Internet Quality; Low Quality also seems be adequate for internet videos and creates a smaller file. Since you have provided timing (duration) for each slide, the option Use Recorded Timings and Narrations should appear. If not, default timings will be supplied.

NOTE: Interactive “videos” allow the viewer to explore a subject on his own via on-screen navigation. It is straightforward to create this kind of experience in PowerPoint but a converter is required to transform the PowerPoint to an interactive web medium (HTML5 or Flash).  See the iSpring product, for example. I may attempt an interactive video using a converter in a later post.

A Video Project

The project for this post is a variation of a video that I created to promote a presentation design business. I had found that many prospects had not considered the idea of paying a PowerPoint guru even though some were aware that the quality of their presentations could be better. The video was designed to make the viewer aware of the possibilities (about 90 seconds with audio):

Here are a few design notes:

  • These are not traditional corporate slides, with titles, bullets and the usual background, shown in inexorable sequence. Rather, the video is organized as a series of scenes and transitions, leading to a specific conclusion.
  • In particular, the scenes lead the viewer through a series of questions (with implied answers) designed to suggest the shortcomings of operating without a presentation specialist:
    • How important are presentations (important enough not to be treated casually)?
    • Who designs your presentations (and are they appropriately skilled)?
    • Are your presentations overstuffed, wordy, etc. (and are you proud of them)?
    • Do you hire specialists in other communications areas (why not presentations)?
  • Transitions and (in one case) a change in background mark the scenes.
  • The overall tone is light – appropriate for questioning the prospect’s practices.
  • The music is light, but with an insistent rhythm. A light popping sound effect is used for punctuating the punctuation.
  • Movement is featured constantly.
  • Corporate look-and-feel including colors, logos, fonts, etc. can be utilized but, again, avoid the canned corporate template/theme.

Animations and Transitions

The animations and transitions are relatively simple. Most of the scenes are single slides with a sequence of Entrance effects.  I did use several slides to build the “bad design” series; this reduces the number of animated objects on a slide and makes managing the animation easier.

Timing the animations and transitions is critical. You want to maintain the pace consistent with the audio but you also want the content (mostly text in this project) to “register” with the viewer. Since you know the content, you may be inclined to use intervals that are too short for a viewer who is seeing the material for the first time. On the other hand, people can comprehend text or simple images in a remarkably short time. The best practice is to test your video with “outside” viewers to get the pacing right.

In the case of the “bad slides” sequence, I do not expect the viewer to study the example slides in any detail; I just want to give a quick impression. I want to give the impression that there are of a lot of bad slides out there, not focus on any particular form of evil.

NOTE: It is absurdly easy to find examples like this on the net. Finding a well-designed slide is infinitely harder. You may note that most of the examples are from government agencies or educational institutions. I hope this is because these groups are simply more likely to publish on the web rather than that these people are really bad with PowerPoint. What do you think?

Here’s the animation pane for the “who designs your presentations” scene; I have named the objects for clarity:

m1.png

Each text box appears using a Wipe or Stretch, followed by a Zoomed question mark with a pop sound effect. In three cases, an image enters with the phrase (the designer guy, Stella and the kid).

Reviewing animations, transitions (and sound effects) using Slide Show may not be satisfactory if you use a low-powered PC. Animations can be jerky and not reflect the actual timing. Using Preview Timings and Narrations under Create Video will produce smoother results but the timing may not be accurate (more on this below).

All slide transitions use the Advance Slide/After xx:xx option. Typically, the interval is set to cause the transition a short time after the last animation effect. When no delay is wanted, the transition occurs immediately after the last effect. The duration of the transition itself is one of the transition parameters for the next slide.

Sound Effects

I acquired the “pop” sound effect from Soundrangers and used Insert/Audio on my PC to add it to the slide. I set Audio Tools/Playback/Start automatically so that the effect appears on the animation pane (the gray events) and can be coordinated with the animations.

A speaker icon appears on the slide when the sound is inserted. This can be used by a presenter to play the audio manually; since I want to control the sound via the animation pane, I set Hide During Show. I copied the icon to the other slides where needed. For convenience, I positioned the icons near the question marks. Here’s the “who designs..” slide with the “pop” icons:

m2.png

Unfortunately, the sound effect appears on the animation pane as an event with no duration (the pop effect actually lasts for about 0.3 seconds). On the other hand; the Start After option does account for the actual duration (see the red lines on the Animation Pane above). Using audio in PowerPoint would be simpler if the duration of audio playback were actually shown in the animation pane, like an animation effect.

By the way, I used the methods outlined in my series of posts on PowerPoint characters to create the figures on this slide. This is an example of how characters can help tell stories.

Background Audio

The royalty-free music track was also acquired from Soundrangers; the original track is a little more than 60 seconds in length. Given the animation and transition timings, the video will be about 90 seconds long. Obviously, I need to repeat part of the audio track so that the audio will play until the end.

NOTE; You can acquire audio “loops” – music designed to be repeated seamlessly. Since PowerPoint provides a Loop playback option, a loop track can be played seamlessly for an arbitrary length of time. However, if the loop is short, the playback is noticeably repetitive. A track not designed for the purpose with the Loop option will be obviously repetitive.

For my project, the audio track has a definite ending and I want that ending to synchronize with the end of the video. So I Trimmed a copy of the track to the beginning 30 seconds (approximately) and followed it by the complete 60 second track. Here’s a picture:

m3.png

I made a spreadsheet of the slide timings (duration and transition) and adjusted the trimmed track length and the slide timings (in tenths of a second) to get the transition to occur at the beginning of a slide. I applied a Fade Out to the end of the trimmed piece so that the “cut” is less noticeable.

Fortunately, here’s a very nice video from Microsoft that will explain these details so I won’t have to.

ADVISORY: As I noted above, there is no guarantee that PowerPoint playback (Slide Show or Preview Timings) will actually run at the specified rate. Audio plays at the proper rate. As a result, if you use a low-powered PC, you may not be able to synchronize visual effects with the audio in PowerPoint; rather, you may have to create videos to check the timing.

If you want to experiment with a much more sophisticated audio editor, try Audacity® – a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing.”

Other Video Projects

To help you understand the potential and challenges of PowerPoint videos, here are a few other video projects I’ve worked on:

  • Video infographic  – the client wanted to raise awareness of wireless trends affecting healthcare. I created a web video using the basic techniques described here. A couple of “characters” and animated pie charts and graphs added appeal.
  • Trade show videos – the client used large video screens associated with his trade show booth to attract attention. The design called for a looped series of short vignettes with attention-grabbing text and images.
    • Native PowerPoint can be used in these situations but using video eliminated potential compatibility or performance problems associated with the operating environment at the show.
  • Recreating a web video – a client’s customer had created a video highlighting his operation, including applications of the client’s products. The client wanted a shorter version of the video concentrating only on the client’s contributions. Rather than try to edit the video directly, I extracted the audio using a free web app and recreated the visual scenes in PowerPoint (I had access to the images used in making the video) and exported the result as a new video.
    • This project was complicated by the fact that the client’s company name had changed since the original video was made. Since I recreated the slides, this was easy to fix visually. I did not attempt any sophisticated audio editing but was able to eliminate the old name from the audio track using the PowerPoint tools.
  • Video of live presentation – the client had a video of a sales presentation his company had made at a conference. The video had been made on a phone and did not show the actual slides clearly. I embedded a cropped version of the video featuring the presenter in a PowerPoint presentation and synchronized it with the original slides. The slides occupied the left two-thirds of the (wide) screen and the cropped video on the right third. I exported the result as a video. Voila!
  • I have made hundreds of short videos for this blog demonstrating animations.

So give it a try. You will find that you can make simple but engaging web videos for your organization or just for fun using a tool you already have.

Weighing Your Options – Spring and Digital Scales

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The previous post demonstrated animated “balances” as presentation metaphors. Other forms of weighing devices use an indicator of some kind rather than a direct comparison of two weights. Mechanical scales using springs and electronic scales with digital displays are examples.

The simplest kind of spring scale is a “slider;” here’s an example:

The animation suggests that outdated legacy technology puts the organization in the red danger zone. The bouncing effect adds some life to the animation.

Here’s how the scale is constructed:

  • There are 4 parts (groups): the static body (blue outline), the load (black), the pointer (red), and the “hanger” (green). Each is made of standard PowerPoint shapes.
  • The load is labeled using an OCR style font to suggest obsolescence.

Here are the animation details:

The load appears with a Fade; the load, hanger and  pointer are animated by a Down motion path with a Bounce End option (I added a red rectangle to the animation pane to show the bounce timing). These parts move together but are separate groups; after you apply the motion path to one part, use the Animation Painter to apply the motion to the other parts.

NOTE: The Bounce End option is available for motion paths and some other effects; the option is set in the Effect Options pane:

The option is set by using the slider to the time you want the bounce to start relative to the start of the effect; in this case the duration of the motion path is 0.8 sec so the bounce occurs in the last 0.2 seconds of the motion.

The motion path actually moves beyond the end point temporarily to implement the bounce.

The next example of a spring scale is the type you might see in a grocery store; it uses a pointer on a round dial to register the weight in the suspended pan:

 

Here’s the construction:

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There are three parts: the body/dial (blue), the pointer (red) and the pan assembly (green). The pointer (a Diamond, an Oval and an Isosceles Triangle) includes a dashed circle to establish the center. The pan assembly is a Pentagon (rotated) and a Chord.

I used the techniques discussed in my seminal post on clocks to build the dial. Briefly, create a group containing opposing tic marks and digits, duplicate and rotate around a common center. Editing the digits completes the dial:

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TIP: You can rotate an object precisely using the Size options (Format Shape/Size & Properties/Size/Rotation).  Changing the Rotation value (degrees) rotates the object relative to its initial position. You can use negative numbers for counterclockwise rotations. When a rotated object is duplicated, it retains the edited value.

Here are the animation details for the spring scale:

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  • I used a Fly-in for the entrance of the load; it’s easier than a motion path. The duration is 0.6 seconds.
  • I used the Bounce End option for the Fly-in; I set the timing at 0.3 seconds. This means that the load will reach its lowest point at 0.3 seconds and the bounce effect will start at this point, lasting until the end of the Fly-in – 0.6 seconds.
  • As in the motion path, the object will temporarily move slightly beyond its expected endpoint.
  • The Teeter effect on the pan starts when the load reaches it (0.3 sec).
  • The Spin of the hand also starts at this point.
  • The Spin also has a Bounce End option. In this example. the Spin has a duration of 0.7 seconds with the bounce timing at 0.5 seconds. This means that the hand reaches a point slightly beyond its endpoint at 0.5 seconds and bounces until 0.7 seconds.

TIP: Teeter is an “emphasis” effect (not associated with Entry or Exit). It causes the object to rotate slightly, return and repeat (4 times). With short durations, it is useful for simulating vibrations or shudders. You can see the details of the effect by creating an example with a long duration. The center of rotation can be altered by grouping the object with a properly sized and positioned circle.

You can use red-yellow-green segments on the dial to show a change in status or add indicative text.

A variation can show a negative effect; maybe too much workload:

 

Another “last straw” load has been added with the same animation of the load and the pan as before. However, the hand has a motion path with a simultaneous Spin and the dial falls. A dashed circle has been added to the dial so that a Spin makes it fall to the side. You can invent additional chaos if you want;  see the explosions post, for example.

Close observers will note that the pan doesn’t actually drop when the weights are added in this example. This slide has enough going on. If you disagree, you can add motion paths as in the previous examples.

Removing negative things like debts or distractions can improve the situation. Here’s an example demonstrating this using another kind of spring scale:

 

The construction of the scale is straightforward using standard shapes.

Here is the construction of the red-yellow-green indicator:

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TIP: The 5-pointed Star (and several other standard shapes) are not symmetric when their height and width are equal. Use a circle as a guide to manually adjust width and height to get a radially symmetric shape.

RANT: I have had trouble using Artistic Effects like Blur; the effect may work once but then becomes unavailable or inoperable. Some others have reported these problems. I suspect that it’s because I use a $400 Chinese laptop and the software is badly designed. I have no problems using other software (e.g., Corel Paintshop) to create blurs and other effects.

The objects disappear via a Dissolve and a simultaneous motion path. Here’s the animation:

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Digital scales don’t create a lot of action, except for the display – and we can take advantage of that. Here’s a personal “bathroom” scale:

 

I used a font that mimics a 7-segment LCD display (from dafont.com ), common for these devices. There are 5 text boxes that appear, one after the other – an Appear animation, followed 0.2 sec later by a Disappear and an simultaneous Appear for the the next text box.

Here’s an animation  about relieving burdens that uses a digital scale:

 

Here are notes on this animation:

  • For simplicity, I created all the text boxes spread out on a separate slide.
  • The first text box (HELP) uses a Start After Previous/Blink animation with the Repeat Until Next Click option. The HELP text will blink when the slide appears and will continue until the first click.
  • I applied After Previous/Appear to all remaining text boxes. Then I added Disappear after 0.2 sec  to  each box. You can do this in two steps by selecting the boxes in order (Cntrl/Click) and then applying the two animations.
  • I modified three animations to Start on Click.
  • Here’s part of the Animation Pane:

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  • Next, I selected all of the text boxes and aligned them Center and Middle; this stacks the text boxes. Then, I copied and pasted the text boxes on the indicator window on the scale.
  • To complete the project, I animated the loads.

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 – spring and digital scales

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. To contact me directly, use the contact form on the About page.

Weighing Your Options – Balances

Scales and balances are useful presentation metaphors; they can show changes that result from adding (or deleting) objects or concepts. Balances compare two weights and can show comparative changes. Here’s an example:

The blue objects shift the indicator from red (danger) to green (safety) as they overcome the evil black stuff. Labeling the objects, using call-outs or synchronizing with text adds specific meanings, as in this version:

NOTE: I made an animated balance in an earlier post; I  did it again here because the animation is simpler (I hope).

Here’s how the balance is constructed:

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  • The objects are made from standard PowerPoint shapes. The “beam” is made from two slightly different Braces combined using the Merge Shapes/Combine operation:
  • The balance is made up of 4 objects: the stationary “post” including the indicator background (blue outlined), the “beam” including the pointer (red), and the two pan assemblies (green). The right pan assembly includes the Cloud shaped load.
  • Each of the moving parts is grouped with a circle (dashed line) that determines the center of the part for animation purposes. In particular, the circle grouped with the pan assemblies sets the center at the point where the pan assembly attaches to the beam – this makes it easier to create the motion paths for the pan assemblies.
  • Four radial lines (black) are included that identify the rotated positions of the beam – 10 degree increments.
  • The parts are arranged and sized so that they don’t interfere during the animation.

Here’s the next step (animating the beam and the two pans):

  • The beam rotations are 10 degrees counterclockwise.
  • The first Line motion path added to the pan assembly will snap to its “center.”
  • The motion path is edited so that the end point of the motion path is located at the intersection of the dashed circle in the beam group and the appropriate radial line (black).
  • Subsequent motion paths also snap to the center of the pan assembly but are then moved to snap to the end point of the previous path. The end point is then positioned as before.

TIP: Motion paths in close proximity are difficult to edit since the endpoints tend to arbitrarily snap to the endpoints of a nearby path. You can overcome this annoyance by zooming in to do the editing and using the Alt key to override unwanted snap actions.

Next, the load elements (balls) are added and the first one is partially animated:

  • I added center lines to the balls to help with the animation.
  • Using the Animation Painter, I copied the movement of the left pan to the red ball. Then I reordered the effects in the Animation Pane so that the movement of the red ball is synchronized with the movement of the pan. Here’s the Pane:

Animating the second and third balls is a little tricky; they only move with the second and third motion of the beam. Applying the motion paths of the pan to the second ball using the animation painter copies all of the paths to the second ball – the path corresponding to the first motion of the pan is not needed. Just deleting the path does not do the job. Here’s an example showing how to successfully delete the first path:

WARNING: The Animation Painter copies all of the animations from the first object and replaces all the animations of the second object. This tool could have been designed with more flexibility but wasn’t.

  • Select the first motion path on the slide and hit the delete key; alternatively, select the path on the Animation Pane and select Remove on the pulldown.
  • At this stage, the object would jump to the starting point of the motion path before the motion path is executed. To fix this, the object needs to be moved to the starting point. However, moving the object will also move the motion path.
  • To avoid this, you need to Lock the motion path one of the motion path Effect Options. This fixes the position of the motion path on the slide. Now the object can be moved so that its center coincides with the starting point of the second motion path.

This is the first time I have ever used the Lock/Unlock option. I guess this is why it’s there.

  • Continuing the process with the third ball, adding the appearance effect to the balls (Float Down) and re-ordering the effects completes the animation; here’s the slide:

  • Here’s the animation pane:

Here’s another balance type; in this design the pans are constrained to move vertically:

Here’s the construction:

  • All the parts are constructed from standard PowerPoint shapes. The “post” is a Trapezoid with a smaller Trapezoid Subtracted (Merge Shapes) to provide the window.
  • The red-yellow-green indicator is formed from three Block Arcs.
  • The dashed circles and radial lines are used as before.
  • A black horizontal line is added to the pan assemblies to help locate the motion paths.
  • I used the same steps as before to animate the balance.

You can also  use spring and/or digital scales in your presentations; the next post will show you how.

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

Powerpointy blog – balances

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, use the contact form on the “about” page.

PowerPoint People – 3D Robots

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This is another post on adding characters to your presentations to help tell and sell your story. There’s an earlier series on simple cartoons (basic figures, characters and expressions) and one on using Lego people.

Since robots are not confined to a human shape, you can create a variety of characters and “occupations.” And, if you think robots can’t have personalities, remember Hal, Bender and WALL-E.

Here’s an example of a humanoid robot figure created in PowerPoint:

RANT: My posts on PowerPoint “3d” are exercises in using tools in ways for which they were never intended.  In addition, PowerPoint 3d is poorly integrated with other PowerPoint drawing features (e.g., shadows) and poorly documented (e.g., 3d rotations and lighting). So, expect serious limitations and disappointments if you venture here without guidance.

I created this robot using techniques I have used before making 3d blocks, buildings, vehicles and other things. Basically, it involves assembling separate objects, each with a “Parallel” rotation, to achieve a “3d” construction.

As usual, I started with front and side views of the robot. Only standard PowerPoint shapes are used; no freehand drawing required:

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Here are some notes:

  • For clarity, I used different outline colors for the body/head, the legs and the arms.
  • I strongly recommend using Snap to Grid with a rather  coarse grid setting (I used 0.05 in.) to make it easier to draw and align the shapes.
  • Drawing Guides are used to align the parts in the two views. If these alignments are wrong, it will be obvious when you try to assemble the 3d construction.
  • The “chest” is a Union of two Rectangles; I’ll try to make it clear why I used Union rather than Group later.
  • The”hand” is a Chord shape and two Rectangles.

Next, I made a temporary copy of the front view and rotated it 90 degrees. Using the side view, the rotated front view and drawing guides I drew several “cross sections” of the robot that will help align the parts in the 3d construction. Here’s how I drew the cross section at the top of the “hip” section (outlined in yellow); it includes the outline of the disc that connects the hip with the chest section.

r3.png

It’s easier to draw these sections one at a time than to draw an entire top view.

Here are the sections and where they will fit in the 3d construction:

r4.png

The sections that will locate the arms and legs are simply copied from the side view.

Here’s the process for the construction of the body and head:

  • The parts and yellow “sections” are rotated (Parallel/Isometric/Left Down and Right Up) and moved into position to form the outline of the head, chest and hip parts.
  • The circles are rotated and filled to form the discs that connect the parts. 3d Depth is added (72 points per inch).
  • The other parts are filled; Depth is added using the yellow sections as guides.
  • Using the yellow sections as guides, the discs and body parts are moved into position. For example, the first “neck” section is aligned with the head. Then the neck disk is aligned with the circle in the neck section. The section representing the top of the chest is then aligned with the neck disc, allowing the chest to be aligned next. Imagine that you are stacking the parts.
  • Keep the sections “in front” during this step; this keeps them visible and allows easy removal later.

The next step is adding the limbs:

The arm and leg parts are Unioned to form the arm and leg (more about this later). Depth is added to the arm and leg. The rotated yellow sections are aligned with the side of the body allowing the arm and leg to be positioned. The other side is completed using copies of the leg, arm and sections. Even though the “disc” parts are invisible in this view, they establish the relationship between the body parts.

To finish, remove the yellow section objects and color the body parts, adding details as needed:

RANT: For various reasons, the Material, Lighting and Lighting Angle tools are useless for this project. After considerable experimentation, I recommend the method documented here rather than endless fiddling with combinations that are ultimately faulty.

For the robot coloring, I want front surfaces to be darker and visible side surfaces to be lighter, as if light were coming from the robot’s left. Here’s my method:

  • Since the “lighting” can’t be turned off, I have picked a combination of settings that seem to minimize its effects: Flat material, Contrasting lighting and zero Lighting Angle.
  • To control the color of each component, select Fill and Outline colors to create dark and light surfaces. In particular, use dark gray fill and light gray outline on components that “face the front” and the opposite for components that face the side; here are the chest and an arm:

  • This is the reason that the limbs are Unions, not Groups – if they were Grouped, extraneous outlines would appear when the Outline color is added.

By the way, here are some ideas to give the robot expressions (you can also survey various toon robots for inspiration):

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You can “pose” the robot; here’s a walking version:

Here’s how the walking robot is constructed:

The limbs are constructed and positioned as before. If the orientation is not as shown, the 3d rotation will be incorrect.

TIP: The orientation of a Union is determined by the first object selected. In these examples, the red-outlined object is selected first:

For the first Union operation the top rectangle (red) is selected first, followed by the other (blue) rectangles. The result has a vertical orientation (note the “rotation handle”); the 3d rotation works as expected. For the second Union the red rectangle is selected first; note that it has been rotated. The result of the Union has a rotated orientation and the 3d rotation is different.

Of course, robots don’t have to be humanoid and use legs for locomotion:

I used the same techniques as before; here are the construction details:

The “hand” is made by subtracting a rounded rectangle from the arm/hand object.

Once you’ve made a few of these, you can position the parts and add depth “by eye” and avoid some of the tedious steps, at least for fairly simple robots. That’s how I made this example:

  • The positioning and depth were created by eye without using yellow “sections” as guides.
  • The right arm is a copy of the left arm, Flipped twice.
  • The eye shapes have a smaller depth than the head; here’s a close up:

r16.png

TIP: Selecting an object within a group can be tricky, especially in 3d; the image above shows that the head is selected and the eye is selected within the group (faint outline). Use the Selection Pane if you have trouble.

Here are the details on constructing a robot with another form of locomotion:

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  • The arms are Line Arcs. You could draw a freehand line using the Curve tool if you’re comfortable with that.
  • The hands are Pie shapes.
  • I used a section (yellow) to help position the legs; the other parts are positioned by eye.
  • The rocket plume is a Triangle with a Gradient Fill.

If you need a villain in your story, try this one:

r18

  • Two parts are made from the outline drawing: the head/chest/shoulder unit and the whole body. Each is Unioned.
  • The two parts are rotated and Depth is added.
  • Material, Fill, Line and lighting are set as before but with darker colors.
  • The two parts and a copy of the smaller part are “stacked” as shown to complete the figure.

Robots are also modeled from nature; here’s an insectoid version:

r19.png

The robot is made using the techniques discussed above except that an additional X-Rotation has been added to the front and back legs. Here’s  what the 3D Rotation looks like for a couple of the legs:

r20.png

The middle leg has the preset Isometric Left Down rotations; the back leg has the X-rotation reduced by 10 degrees. WARNING: Do not use the rotation icons (circled in red) for this; mysterious, undocumented things happen when these are used.

RANT: I haven’t been able to find adequate documentation on rotations, materials, lighting, etc. If you know some sources, please let me know by adding a comment.

You can exercise your imagination by adding body segments, antennas, stingers, wings, etc., and other coloring. Why not consider other beasts as models for your robots?

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 – 3d Robots

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, please like or follow this blog.

Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint

 

A “mind map” is a graphical representation of a hierarchy of related subjects, concepts, etc. It can be a tool for developing/brainstorming ideas (and fighting crime!) or as a way to present information. You can use a mind map to present your product line, markets, customer categories or marketing plan, for example. For more on mind maps, look here.

Combining mind map graphics with simple animation is a solid way to present your concept clearly while relating the parts to the whole. And, you can avoid overloading your audience.

Of course, there are other hierarchical representations: the dreaded bullet list and several of the Smart Art options, for example. I used a circular “wheel” graphic to represent a hierarchy in this post. Simple animation will improve all of these approaches by presenting information in digestible chunks and emphasizing relationships.

Here’s a sequence presenting an internet marketing plan using an animated mind map:

The first “scene” displays the “top level map,” animating each second-level element progressively. This provides the audience with an overview of the plan. Subsequent scenes focus on each of the five second-level plan elements, developing its components.

Showing this plan all at once is a bad idea. You will loose your audience’s attention while they read the parts and follow the relationships. Once they’ve done this, many will not be interested in hearing your pitch because they think they already know all there is to know.

To create this sequence, I first decided what each Scene should look like and created each one on a separate slide:

Next, I made the transition slides between each pair of Scenes. Each transition slide implements a motion path that moves the top level map from its position in the previous Scene to the desired position in the next Scene. For example, here’s the slide that implements the transition from Scene 1 to Scene 2:

As you can see, the motion path moves the top level map to a position that results in the “Social Media” block being positioned at the bottom center of the slide, as it should be for Scene 2. Scene 2 is completed by animating the components of the Social Media plan using Wipe animations. Here’s Scene 2 with its Animation Pane:

Here’s how to build a transition slide:

  • First, insert a blank slide between the two Scenes.
  • Copy the top level map object from the previous Scene and Paste onto the blank transition slide. It will appear in the same position as in the previous Scene.
  • Next, Copy the top level map from the next Scene to the transition slide. This copy of the top level map will serve as a “target” for the motion path.
  • Apply a Line motion path to the top level map from the previous Scene and set the end point to the “center” of the target.
  • Carefully setting the end point of the motion path on the transition slide assures that the top level map appears in precisely the same position on the transition slide as in the next Scene, otherwise there will be a “jump” as the next Scene appears.
  • Later versions of PowerPoint have a feature that is helpful; when setting the end point of a motion path, a “ghost” version of the object appears as an aid to positioning the end point. Here’s an image of setting the endpoint for the transition between Scenes 2 and 3:

  • For clarity, the “target” object has a black outline and no fill. The ghost of the top level map is labeled; it automatically appears as the endpoint is being moved. In this image the endpoint is slightly in error; you should move the endpoint so that the “ghost” and the target coincide exactly (try zooming in the make this easier).
  • Test the transition (Slide Show) so that there is no visible “jump” in the position of the top level map between the transition and the next Scene.

I have complained about distraction caused the motion path “ghost” feature in other posts; this is a situation when it is actually helpful.

Once the transition slides are complete and tested, remove the targets and check Transition/Advance/After 00:00:00; this causes the animations to occur automatically, regardless of any On Click settings, and the Transition to the next slide as soon as the animations complete.

I have used similar transition techniques in couple of other posts:

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

Powerpointy blog – animating mindmaps

See this page for more on downloading files.

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

 

 

Animation in PowerPoint – Process Flows

My posts on animating liquids and creating various “flows” have been pretty popular. One reader shared a project involving animating a chemical “process flow” that seemed a good application for some of these techniques. Inspired by her project, I have created my own version.

However, I don’t know much about this subject matter (surprise) and may have made mistakes. Please don’t judge the animations on technical accuracy. My purpose is only to demonstrate animations that may be useful in describing these processes or using them metaphorically to describe other kinds of processes.

I don’t think I would use these techniques for a technical audience. I do suggest that they may be useful for education, training or marketing.

Here’s the animation:

The process involves six steps:

  1. Quantities of two liquids (yellow and blue) are drained into two holding tanks.
  2. The contents of the two tanks are pumped into a larger vessel.
  3. The contents of the larger vessel are agitated resulting in a reaction indicated by a color change (dark green).
  4. The resulting liquid is pumped into vessel containing a filter.
  5. A vacuum pump draws the liquid through the filter, leaving unwanted material (black) behind.
  6. The filtered liquid (bright green) is drained into a tank.

This example demonstrates some of the techniques used in this project; the animated parts are outlined in red and labeled:

Here’s the annotated animation pane for this example:

Note: I use Stretch and Collapse in this project to avoid the soft edge Wipe; this works because I use rectangular tanks and pipes and thus can use uniformly filled Rectangles for the liquid elements. See this post for more on this subject.

The first effect applies a Collapse/To Bottom to the portion of the supply tank to be drained (“D” in the figure). Starting at the same time, the first “slug” of liquid (S1) Stretches/To Bottom, followed by the second slug (S2).  When S2 reaches the bottom of the tank, the fill portion (F) begins to Stretch/From Bottom.

When the Collapse of D ends (the draining is stopped), S1 begins to Collapse. The Stretch of F and the Collapse of S1 end simultaneously. The disappearance of S2 is for housekeeping purposes; it is not visible at the end of the animation.

This is easier than it appears – the order of events is logical. The timing is a matter of trial and error taking into account the relative sizes (volume) of the elements.

Here’s an example with a valve:

Here’s how the valve is drawn:

The handle is a Flowchart/Collate symbol (does anyone actually use these any more?). A Basic Swivel effect is used to turn the handle with a Stretch of the gate. Here’s an annotated Animation Pane for the example:

The animation is the same as before with the addition of the valve animations and a static slug just above the valve.

Here’s an example with a pump:

The impeller is a series of Arcs arranged around a circle; I used a couple of equilateral Hexagons (blue) to help align the Arcs:

Here’s the annotated Animation Pane:

Here’s the mixing step:

The paddle (P) is made from two Teardrop shapes; here’s the animation pane:

The filling process is as before. After the fill, the paddle (P) swivels while a dark rectangle Dissolves In representing the reaction and its product.

The Appear of the paddle is necessary because I used the Basic Swivel  Exit effect.

Here’s the filter step and the animation pane:

 

This animation is basically a number of things happening simultaneously: the vacuum pump rotor spins, the liquid level in the top part of the tank drops, individual drops (Ovals) fall (repeated motion paths) from the filter, the residue builds up on top of the filter and the liquid level rises in the bottom.  The Ovals are behind the filter object in the animation; the motion paths are staggered slightly to improve the appearance of the animation.

Here are some additional notes:

  • I assembled the animation using six separate slides – I do this often to simplify the construction of complex animations.
  • The static “infrastructure” elements (pipes, tanks, etc) are grouped together and appear on each slide – this also simplifies the animation.
  • Try other effects: bubbles, heating, cooling, explosions (!), meters, etc.
  • You may want to try other shapes to create more realistic elements or standard engineering symbols. This will require that you use the soft-edge wipe or other techniques to animate the liquids rather than the Stretch/Collapse effects that I used in my project. This shows what I’m getting at:
  • The first “draining” animation uses the Wipe effect; since PowerPoint 2007 this effect has a soft edge which may not be desirable in this project (see this post for more details on this). The second animation shows why Stretch/Collapse won’t work. The last two examples show how a Background-filled Rectangle (white) can be used as a “mask” produce the desired effect (the mask is between the tank outline and the shape representing the liquid).
  • You may want to use more realistic piping; here’s a technique for animating the flow through an elbow:
  • Here the “mask” consists of a background-filled Block Arc grouped with a circle (red outline); the object Spins 90 degrees to reveal the Block Arc representing the liquid. The circle assures that the masking object spins about the appropriate center.
  • You may want to add transparency, gradient fills and/or 3d to create more interesting equipment; since the applicable PowerPoint tools are clumsy, prepare to spend some time and effort on this (see my post on piping for tips). Here’s a simple example:

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

Powerpointy Blog – Animating Processes

See this page for more on downloading files.

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

 

PowerPoint Secrets – The Hard-edged Wipe

In 2014, I wrote a post about animating liquids (filling, pouring, etc.). In that post I provided an example using the Enter/Wipe animation effect – here’s the video from the post:

If I create a video from the same file using my current PowerPoint version (2013), this is what I get:

Observant readers will notice a difference between these two animations; the leading edge of the object is fuzzy or soft in the latest version. Here’s what happened: after PowerPoint 2007 (I think), Microsoft changed the animation effect from a “hard edge” to a “soft edge.” And, rather than make this an option, the geniuses simply eliminated the hard-edged wipe.

I believe this change was not limited to the Wipe effect but affected other animations and transitions but I don’t have the details.

If this change is acceptable or doesn’t affect your work, please browse my blog for dozens of other fascinating and useful posts. On the other hand, if you prefer the hard edge in some of your projects, read on for some ways to work around the change.

I want a hard edge in some of the projects I have detailed in this blog. I intend to add notes about this to earlier posts where needed but I may not get to all of them. Sorry.

I tried some effects that might work as a direct substitute for Wipe:

The Stretch/Collapse effects work as a hard-edged wipe but only for the shape with the uniform fill. The Peek effects appear to move the object in rather than expose it like the Wipe.

Of course, the distortion created by Stretch/Collapse is useful in some applications; see my post on opening a book.

The shape of the object is important, too:

As you can see, in the case of a non-rectangular shape, Stretch/Collapse is not the same as Wipe; Peek is a different effect.

Conclusion: Stretch is a direct substitute for Wipe only when the object is rectangular with a uniform fill.

But we can use an old PowerPoint trick to simulate Wipe:

Here I used the Collapse animation of a “mask” to reveal the arrow object; obviously this works for any shape or fill. The mask is a slide background filled (white) rectangle (outlined in red for clarity in the first example).

Here’s how this technique can be used to fill a non-rectangular vessel (the small sketch shows how the objects are “layered”):

Of course, the masking trick doesn’t always work – in particular, in cases where the slide background fill is not uniform:

Here the mask does not disappear against the background when it is animated; the slide background fill (a gradient) is static and does not track animations.

Here’s a way to “wipe” a uniformly filled object against a gradient background:

Create a rectangle with the same fill as the background; use Merge Shapes/Subtract to create an arrow-shaped hole. Put a gray rectangle between the hole and the background and apply a Stretch entry animation to the rectangle. This sketch shows the relationships:

In summary:

  • Stretch can substitute for Wipe for rectangular, non-rotated objects with uniform fill.
  • Using a background-filled “mask” and Collapse will mimic a Wipe for non-rectangular shapes with non-uniform fill. This won’t work with a non-uniform (e.g., gradient) background.
  • Using a background-filled “mask with a hole” will work for uniformly filled objects and a non-uniform background.

If you have more information about this topic, please share by commenting on this post. Thank you.


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