Posts Tagged 'motion paths'

Weighing Your Options – Spring and Digital Scales


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The animation suggests that outdated legacy technology puts the organization in the red danger zone.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:


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:


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:


  • 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:


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:


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 ), 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:


  • 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:


  • 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.

Building Your Story – Still More Construction Equipment


OK – so I’ve gone a little overboard making animated construction equipment (see here and here). At least, I think I’m learning how to do these animations a little more efficiently. Since I’m using the same techniques here as in these earlier posts, It may help to review them if I don’t provide enough detail here.

The first example in this post is a “straddle crane/carrier” – used in containerized shipping and large scale manufacturing:


Here’s the animation:

Here’s how I drew the crane using standard shapes:


  • The red circles around the “latches” establish the center of rotation for the “unlatch” animation (see below).
  • A Star is used to provide detail for the wheel.

Here’s the version with fill color:


The crane object consists of several parts: the “body” of the crane, four wheels, the “lifting frame” (gray) with its cable, two latches, and the load (blue). Each part will be animated separately.

Here’s the slide layout:


  • The red rectangles denote the intermediate and final positions of the load. These are the only “targets” needed to do the animation since I will use the Animation Painter as described in the previous posts.
  • The “ruler” (green) is used to position the crane (actually, its wheel) a convenient number of rotations to the left of its final position.

Here are the animation steps (the order of steps is intended to make the best use of the Animation Painter and avoid hand-drawing paths):

  • Apply a Line/Right motion path to the “load.” Adjust the end point to the center of the red rectangle marking the intermediate position. (Hold down the Shift key to keep the motion path level.)
  • Using the Animation Painter, copy the load animation to the crane body. Since the motion paths are identical, the two parts will keep their relative positions as they both move.
  • During this process, update the Animation Pane to set the timing and order of the effects (the Painter will put the copied effect at the end of the list).
  • Add a Line/Left motion to the body to return it to its original position. This requires moving the start point of the Left path to coincide with the end point of the first Right path and similarly adjusting the end point.

“Chaining” together motion paths is made easier since the motion path points will “snap” to nearby path points.

  • Apply a Down path to the load to move it to its final position.

Here’s a place where the “snap” of the motion path points may be a problem since a point may snap to any old unwanted nearby path and be difficult to move. You may be able to overcome this problem by zooming in and providing more space to move the point. Holding down Alt will override the snap but this means that it’s harder to position the endpoint.

This is another ill-designed PowerPoint feature.

  • Copy the load animation to the lifting frame using the Painter. Here’s how the animation looks now:
  • Add an Up and a Left path to the lifting frame to move it back to its original position; again, this requires moving the end points (and adjusting the Animation Pane).

If I could simply copy a single effect from an object and add it to another object, this would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, the PowerPoint designers didn’t design the Painter this way. Thanks, again.

  • Next, copy the frame animations to the right latch. Add a 90° counterclockwise Spin to the right latch. Now, copy the right latch animations to the left latch and change the Spin to clockwise.
  • As the lift frame moves down, a gap appears where the cable should be. To fix this, create a short section of cable and position it between the frame and the cross beam of the crane. Apply Stretch and Collapse and edit the Animation Frame (see below) to “fill in the gap.” (The previous post supplies some details on this step.)
  • Finish by animating the wheels: apply the body animation to the first wheel. Add clockwise and counterclockwise Spins corresponding to the distance traveled (see earlier posts). You will need to set the Smooth Start/End timing of the Spins to match the simultaneous motion paths. Copy the animation to the other wheels using the Painter.

Here’s the final (annotated) Animation Pane:


The final (!!) example is a fork-lift:

Here’s the drawing:

con26I Subtracted two Rounded Rectangles to make the wheel openings. There are four parts to the forklift (body, 2 wheels and the fork) that are animated separately.

The layout:


The red wheel and load determine the intermediate position; the green wheel and load determine the final position.

The animation steps (briefly; see above and earlier posts for details):

  • Apply motion paths to the front wheel to move to the intermediate position, the final position and back to the original position. Use the Painter to apply these paths to the body (throughout this process you will need to edit the Animation Pane to order the effects properly).
  • Apply motion paths to the load: to the intermediate position, up and to the final position.
  • Using the Animation Painter, copy the load effects to the fork. Add a motion path to return the fork to its original position.
  • Apply the appropriate Spins to the front wheel; copy the front wheel animations to the back wheel.

Here’s the final Animation Pane:


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.

Building Your Story – Using Construction Equipment


In the last post, I showed you how to “build” elements of your presentation to help capture the audience’s attention and to increase comprehension.  A couple of the examples in that post used devices (a car and a UFO) to deliver an object to the slide. This post extends this idea by using construction equipment to “build” your story.

Here’s an example:

Here an earth mover pushes a substantial block labeled “integrity” into place, presumably to form the foundation of your company’s value proposition. Additional animations might introduce other layers or components.

As I have done before, I used standard PowerPoint shapes and a clipart image from the web to create the machine:


I pasted the clip art image onto a slide and overlaid several standard shapes (Rectangles, Rounded Rectangles, Triangles, Ovals, etc.) to create a simplified version of the machine. I lightened the image for better contrast and used different line colors to help keep track of the component shapes.

I developed this technique to make original graphics easier for users who are not artists or who are not skilled with other drawing techniques. You’re welcome.

I also occasionally use Merge Shape tools to create new shapes. For example, the knobby tire outline is a 32-pt Star (red in the diagram above) with the points cut off by Subtracting a Donut shape (blue).

Here’s the earth mover with color added:


The machine consists of four Groups: the body, the two wheels and the blade assembly. The blade assembly is in front of the wheel. Each of these is animated separately.

The foundation block (the “load”) is a Rectangle containing centered text in an impressive font:


The Rectangle is filled (Picture or Texture Fill) with a marble texture. I added a 3D Format/Front Bevel/Cross for the edge treatment. An Angle bevel and gold fill completes the text. (If you need more help with bevels, etc., there are tutorials available on the web. is a consistently good source for tutorials.)

Here’s the layout for the animation showing the starting and ending points for the animation steps (click on the picture to enlarge it):


  • Like a mystery writer, I started at the end by placing the load at the center of the slide.
  • I placed the machine elements next to the load.
  • I created a ruler with units equal to one quarter of the circumference of the wheels. The circumference is about 3.14 times the diameter (remember?). I set the ruler at the front wheel’s center and extended it left to a point where the machine and load are off the slide to the left. This establishes the starting points for the elements.

A distance increment of 1/4 the circumference is equivalent to a 90 degree rotation of the wheel. Using this increment simply makes it easy to calculate the Spin animation for the wheels.

In creating the animation, I used the Animation Painter to minimize the number of times I had to create identical effects on different objects – the parts of the machine are separate but move together. This may become clearer below.

The Animation Painter is a tool that allows you to copy the animation effects of one object to a second object. However, the tool has a couple of properties that make it less than perfect:

  • The tool applies to objects rather than effects. That is, you can’t select individual effects and copy them.
  • The tool replaces all the animations of the second object rather than adds to them.

Here’s the first step in animating the earth mover and the load:


This is a Motion path/Line/Right effect. I accepted the default Smooth Stop/Start settings for the motion path (more about this later). Next, I edited the default motion path to set the end point at the load “target” location (the red rectangle).

To edit a Line motion path, select the path and move the start and end points (red and green dots). To preserve the orientation of a Right/Left/Up/Down path, hold down Shift while moving the point.

Using the Animation Painter, I copied the motion path to the earth mover body. Here’s the result:


Since the motion paths are identical, the two objects will move together and end up in the same relative position. This is much easier than drawing the path for the body by hand.

Next, I added the path that causes the body to return to its original position. This a Line/Left path with the end points edited. In particular, the starting point is moved to the end point of the first “entry” motion path and the end point to the start of the first path – here’s what this looks like:


The begin/end points of motion paths will “snap” to other motion path points. In this case, this is convenient since I want the paths connected. In some cases, the “snap” is a nuisance.

The two motion paths are now copied to the blade and the wheels. Here’s the result:


During these steps, you will have to re-order the effects in the Animation Pane to get the right result. Here’s the Animation Pane at this stage:


The first group of effects move all the parts to their first positions and the second group moves the parts back to the left, except for the “load” which is left in the center of the slide. All these parts move together exactly since they have identical motion paths.

Notice that the objects have meaningful names rather than the arbitrary default names assigned by PowerPoint. You can rename objects in the Selection Pane. This is extremely helpful for animations like this (and for providing examples for blogs).

The next task is to apply rotations to the wheels. I applied 720 degrees (2 rotations) Clockwise Spin to the front wheel; this corresponds to the distance traveled as the machine moves into the slide. I also added 720º Counterclockwise Spin to the front wheel corresponding to the exit of the machine.

A couple of notes about the Spin animation: first, the Effects Option Pane has an Amount pulldown where you can set the amount and direction of the Spin. In my example, 720º (Tw0 Spins) happens to be one of the pre-set options:


If you want to set a value that is not one of the pre-sets, you can enter it in the Custom field. You must hit Enter after the value in order for the amount to “take.” This is unusual behavior.

Second, the Spin options include Smooth Start/End like a motion path. However, the default Spin does not include these options. So, in my example, I synchronized the rotation and the wheel travel and by setting the Smooth options to match the motion path. If you use motion paths With other effects, the Smooth options will likely not be available.

The final step is to apply the Spins to the rear wheel (using the Animation Painter) and arrange the order in the Animation Pane:


Notice that the order of steps in this process is not arbitrary – it is meant to allow you to use the Animation Painter to avoid having to enter each of the effects separately. In addition, using the Animation Painter to copy motion paths is useful when a group of objects must move together (that is, in a fixed relative position). Doing this “by hand” can be a little fiddly. So, the Animation Painter is not so bad after all.

I have gone into some detail in this post so I’ll have to include some more construction examples in my next post. As usual, if you would like a free PowerPoint file use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” file containing these projects:

Powerpointy blog – 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.

Building Your Story – Animated Lists


Your presentations are full of lists: agendas, products and features, customers, office locations, schedules and miscellaneous bullet points. Animating some of these lists is a good way to add impact and engage your audience; here’s why:

  • Presenting a load of information all at once is a deadly habit. Progressively disclosing items one at a time will allow you to keep  your audience’s attention focused where you want it.
  • Animation is a powerful attention grabber; it is nearly impossible to ignore. (The reasons are rooted in survival instincts – see here for more.)
  • Sometimes, the choice of animation effects can actually add to your message; I will show you some examples in this post.

Here’s an example that the folks over at Acme use to discuss their customer management services:

Acme presenters discuss each element of the “mantra” one at a time. The animation is eye-catching and adds to the idea that these principles are a solid foundation for customer service.

Here are some notes:

  • Each “brick” is a Rectangle containing text. 3D Bevels are applied to the Rectangle and the text to suggest solidity and importance.
  • Each animation is a Fly-in/From Top. This is much simpler than a motion path and works well as a “building” step.
  • The Fly-in has a Bounce end setting; again, this suggests weight.

A top-down build may be useful for other lists (an agenda, for example). This example uses Stretch animations to introduce each element:

Some more ideas about agendas are in this post.

These ideas can be applied to other structures – a pyramid, for example:

This sketch suggests the organizing a structure by selecting elements from a stockpile. Line motion paths are used. As I often do, I made a target structure (red outlines) to aid in setting the motion path endpoints; here’s what this looks like:


You can apply animations to SmartArt diagrams, too. Here’s an example of a Radial Venn diagram with Fly in animations:

Animating SmartArt is a little different; here’s how this was done:

  • Select the diagram and apply the animation (Fly in). The default will apply the effect to the entire diagram.
  • Under Effect  Options (SmartArt animation), select One by one (other diagram types may have different nomenclature). This creates a list of effects in the animation pane that you can edit.
  • For this example, I Removed the effect for the central element and modified the direction, order and timing of the remaining elements.
  • If you struggle to get the result you want, try decomposing the SmartArt into individual ordinary objects and working with those (see “Not So SmartArt” for more on this).

Here’s a more elaborate example of “delivering” a list element:

Faithful readers will recognize techniques from my post on animating vehicles. You might want to review that post; here are a few helpful (?) notes:

  • I drew the car using standard PowerPoint shapes. This may be simpler for you if you are not comfortable with drawing Freeforms. Here’s the process:


  • The shapes (Ovals and Chords) are combined using Merge Shapes/Union and Subtract for the wheel openings. The wheels are combination of Ovals with a Star and a Donut.
  • The body and wheels are kept separate since they will be animated separately.
  • I applied a motion path to the car body, positioning the end point using a temporary target version of the car.
  • Using the Animation Painter, I applied the identical motion path to the other elements. This assures that the elements will move together.
  • I added Spins to the wheels. Each wheel rotates once each time the wheel travels a distance equal to the circumference of the wheel (that is, diameter times 3.14). See the animated vehicle post for details.
  • I used a second slide for the last part of the animation. After positioning the elements to match the outcome of the first slide, I added animation to drop the tow rope and drive off to the right.

I often spread an animation sequence over several slides. This simply makes it easier to manipulate the animations. Of course, the transition(s) must be automatic and the slide elements must be carefully positioned.

The next idea is a little whimsical:

The saucer’s delivery is a curved motion path combined with a Grow effect. On a second slide, the tractor beam disappears and the saucer exits with another motion path and a Shrink.

I drew the saucer and its cargo using standard shapes. The tractor beam has Soft Edges. The smaller version (that flies in from the left) is a PNG of the original, reduced in size. I couldn’t just shrink the original drawing since the Soft Edge effect is measured in points and doesn’t scale with the rest of the drawing. (There is no logic to this, it’s just how it works.)

The next post will demonstrate similar effects using animated construction equipment.

If you want to experiment with these effects, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – animating lists

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.

Elementary! – Magnifying Glass Effects


In this blog, I have used variations of “zooming and panning” to present an overview of a system, process, etc., followed by detailed views of its components. Check out my post on making screenshots work, for example. The two “Prezi-style Powerpoint” posts (here and here) also demonstrate these techniques.

To make these animations a little more engaging, I created two variations on a magnifying glass effect.

Here’s the first one:

Here are the details:

  • The magnifying glass is a simple construction using standard shapes. The highlight on the lens is a semi-transparent Moon shape:


  • This animation uses two versions of a circle containing Waldo’s face. I used a “cookie cutter” technique to create the circular image:
    • Create a circle and place it over a large version of the underlying scene so that it is centered on Waldo.  The circle should have No Fill and an outline color that contrasts with the scene so that it easy to see..
    • Select the scene and then the circle; use Drawing Tools/Merge Shapes/Intersection to “cut out” the face. (See this post for excruciating detail on this method and others.)
  • The circle should be the same size as the lens – 2.0 inches in the example. Since I enlarged a small part of a large image, I used a large, high res version of the original scene.
  • Set No Outline and Duplicate the circle. Apply Artistic Effects/Blur to one of the circles.
  • Make two versions of the magnifying glass using the two circular images:


  • Convert the two images to pictures (png).
  • Apply the Enter/Basic Zoom/Out Slightly to both png images and align them both over Waldo in the scene. Add a simultaneous Enter/Fade effect to the version with the sharp image of Waldo. The result should look like the magnifying glass zooms in as the image sharpens.
  • Here’s the animation pane:


In developing this animation, I learned a few things:

  • I tried to use just the circular (sharp) image in the animation rather than the whole second magnifying glass. This doesn’t work because the Zoom effect works relative to the center of the image and so the two Zooms are not coincident.
  • When applied to a group, the Fade effect acts on each object in the group separately – that’s why I converted the magnifying glasses to pngs.
  • I tried to delay the Fade animation relative to the Zoom – doesn’t work well.

Here’s the second magnifying glass effect:

The changing view in the lens of the moving glass is a video. To make the video:

  • In a new PowerPoint file, insert the large version of the scene.
  • Create a “mask:” a screen-sized rectangle with a circular “hole” in the center. Use the cookie-cutter technique to create the mask.
  • Apply a motion path (Line) to the scene so that the view through the mask starts at the center of the scene and ends at Waldo. Here’s a sketch:


  • When a motion path is edited, my version of PowerPoint creates a semitransparent “ghost” version of the object to show the end point of the path. This is meant to aid in constructing motion paths, but in this case it obscures the mask (and drawing guides) and makes it very difficult to discern the end points of the motion path and adjust them. Making the mask black helps.
  • Eliminate the Smooth Start/Stop options for the motion path.
  • Set the motion path to Start After Previous and the slide transition to After 2 seconds (the duration of the motion path).
  • Convert to video. Here’s my result:
  • Now, to use this video in the project, Insert the video and set start playback to Automatically. Crop the video to a square with the same dimensions as the lens (2×2 inches) and set the Video shape to a circle. (See this post for more details on using video.) Here’s the result:
  • Over the center of the scene, align the video and the glass so that the video appears in the lens (video is behind the magnifying glass).
  • Add Enter/Fade animation to the video and the glass.
  • Add a motion path to both so that they end up aligned over Waldo. Again, the “ghost” images make this a little difficult.
  • The motion paths are simultaneous and the same duration as the video playback. In some iterations of this project I had to use Trim to eliminate some still frames before and after the desired part of the video.
  • Here’s the annotated animation pane:


By the way, I don’t know any other way to achieve this effect than by using video. Do you?

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 – magnifying glass

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.

Animation in PowerPoint – Opening the Book


Opening a book is a way of introducing an idea, displaying an agenda or presenting facts. This post provides a simple example animation and a more complex version. Both rely on the Stretch entry effect and its exit analog Collapse.

Here’s the first example:

Here are some notes on this animation:

  • Four objects are involved in the “open” animation:


  • I used the Selection Pane to name the objects and set the front-to-back order (front on top):


  • Here’s the Animation Pane (with some notes):


  • The basic animation consists of the Collapse to Left of the front cover, followed by the Stretch of the back of the front cover and pages. The back cover and pages are not animated but appear as the front cover “opens.”
  • To enhance the effect, I added the “edge” of the front cover (black in the example) that gradually appears and then disappears as the cover moves. The effect is created by a Stretch (Across) and Collapse combined with simultaneous motion paths (a single path could have ben used).
  • The timing is relatively slow; this helps when verifying the animation.
  • You can guess how the “close” effect works given the “open” example. The close effect is faster – I would use this timing for the actual presentation.


Powerpointy Tip:  The Selection Pane (one of my favorite tools) is useful in this example but it is crucial in more complex, layered constructions like the second example in this post.

The Selection Pane allows you to:

  • Assign meaningful names to objects – these names will also appear in the Animation Pane.
  • Easily select objects even if they are hidden under other objects
  • Collapse group entries so that their details are hidden in the list
  • Temporarily make objects invisible
  • See and manage the ordering (layering) of objects

There is no checking for duplicate names so be careful.


This first try at a book animation is pretty flat looking.  It looks like a pamphlet since the thickness of the book is not apparent.

To create a more convincing effect, I developed this model:

book4This model presents three stages in the animation, vertically aligned and viewed from the bottom edge of the book. In the initial position, only the front cover of the book (blue)  is visible from above, but in later stages the spine (green), pages (red), and back cover are visible.

The crosshatched elements are “rulers” used the help size the elements of the animation. I have set vertical Drawing Guides (barely visible in this screen shot) at critical positions so that they can be used later to position and size elements of the animation and to determine the end points of motion paths.

The intermediate stage shows the front cover in a vertical position so that only its edge is visible from above. Only the edges of the front group of pages are visible. The spine is rotated half way and the back group of pages is visible. The back cover does not move.

I hope the movement of the stacks of pages is clear from the model. I kept the top page (top edge of the red parallelogram) anchored to the middle of the book and the bottom page at the original position. As you can see, the page edge exposure increases in width during the animation.

In the final position, the covers and spine lay flat. The pages still meet in the middle and the page edge exposure is larger.


Powerpointy Tip: To help size and align objects, enable Snap to Grid and set the grid spacing to a useful number. In the model above,the smallest dimension is 0.1 inches so I set the grid to 0.05 inches. This provides “snap” action to help align the edges and centers of objects.


In the spirit of “divide and conquer,” I will do the animation in “layers” and in stages. This simplifies the process and avoids some issues with locating motion paths that are close together.

The first step is to animate the first transition of the top layer (the front cover). The black arrow shows the intended motion on the slide layout:


The front cover is aligned (using the Drawing Guide) with the appropriate part of the model. A Collapse exit effect With a motion path terminated on another Drawing Guide completes this part of the animation. Here’s the result:


Special Announcement: All motion paths in this post have the Smooth Start/Stop timing set to zero. Some Microsoft genius set the default motion path with non-zero Smooth Start/Stop timings, so I have to reset them each time.


By the way, when you combine the Stretch effect With the motion path, the Stretch must appear first in the animation pane list; otherwise the motion path will not occur. There may be other anomalies of this kind; I don’t have the energy now to ferret them out.

Here are the rest of the animation parts and some notes:

  • The first animation shows the first transition of the spine to a partly open position.
  • In the “Second transition – front cover and spine,” the back of the front cover and the remaining part of the spine are grouped together.
  • In the “First transition – right page and edges,” the right page moves left to reveal the page edges.
  • Next, the top stack of pages opens to the intermediate position and then to the final position, revealing the edges. The second transition animation includes a Grow so that the page edge exposure widens (the grow value is 166% computed from the two widths in the model).
  • The final animation shows the front cover edge as before.

I combined these objects and animation onto a slide, using the Drawing Guides, making sure that the front-to-back order is correct (reference the model and use the Selection pane) and that the order of animations is correct. This is the result:

Now I need to make this look more like a book and include the message. Unfortunately, I can’t ungroup or add details to the objects by grouping without losing the animations. So, I will create the details, convert to pictures and fill the objects with the pictures. (I think I could have used the Animation Paintbrush to reapply the animations after adding details by grouping but I didn’t.)

Here are the parts of the book and some notes:


  • I used Pattern fill (the Confetti pattern) for the “leather” parts. Also, the page edges object uses the Light Vertical pattern.
  • I added internal shadows to the text and other parts of the cover to get an embossed look.
  • The pages have a temporary red outline for clarity. The small “text” lines are Rectangles with a Wave fill.
  • I added a gradient fill to the pages to create a shadow where the pages meet.

To complete the fills, select a fill object and Copy it to put it on the Clipboard. Then, select the corresponding animated object and use Fill/Picture or texture/From clipboard. You should check out my post on picture fill to learn more about this.

Here’s the result:

Here are the Selection Pane (showing the front-to-back order) and the annotated Animation Pane for this project:


Well, dear reader, what have we learned today about attacking a complex animation?

  • Have a plan – build a model showing the locations, orientations, etc., of the objects at various stages of the animation. This can be simple or complicated but the object is to create reference points for the animation.
  • Be precise – Use Snap to Grid to make it easier to locate and size objects in the model. Set Drawing Guides for key alignments and locations (end points of motion paths, for example).
  • Divide and conquer – if necessary, temporarily animate objects and phases of the animation on separate slides. This helps avoid confusion.
  • Combine with care – Use the Selection Pane to name objects, temporarily hide objects and to manage the front-to-back order. Use the Drawing Guides based on the model to locate, size and align objects.
  • Separate “design” from the mechanics of the animation – assemble the animation with simple objects and use Picture Fill and/or the Animation Paintbrush to complete the details of the objects.
  • Finally, control you expectations; this ain’t Pixar.

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 objects:

Powerpointy – Opening the Book

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.

PowerPoint Animated Infographics – Timelines


Infographics are “graphic visual representations of information… intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends,” according to Wikipedia.

Infographics are often used in business to present information, trends or relationships that are favorable to the company’s pitch, generally educating customers or establishing context for a discussion.

Typically, infographics seem to be print-oriented; that is, they are designed as if they were to be presented statically on an oddly-shaped sheet of paper. Here are some examples:


In a web or presentation context, reading this kind of infographic requires considerable zooming and panning.  I have always thought that an interactive or scripted video is a much better way to present infographics. And, of course, PowerPoint can be used to create animated infographics. (Followers of Professor Tufte, please excuse the blasphemy.)

Infographics is a broad subject; I don’t propose to cover the entire field or pontificate on information graphics design and technique. Rather, I want to show you how to create video/interactive versions of common infographic styles.

To start with, consider “timelines.” This kind of infographic is used, for example, to show milestones in a historical context or to show sequential steps in a procedure. A video form can be interactive, allowing the reader to browse the information as needed, or scripted, presenting the information in a particular order, perhaps with an audio narration.

For this post, I’ll create a scripted version, starting with an overview of the timeline followed by sequential exposure of the milestones. Also, I will use a simple graphical model to represent a five step timeline rather than a fully developed infographic (I’ll try that in a later post). Here’s what I’m shooting for:

Here are some notes:

  • The overall timeline is shown first, followed by individual milestones with details, in order.
  • The overview would label each milestone  – perhaps with a date and/or title (first long distance electrical telegraph line,  1843).
  • Each milestone view would add detail and additional graphics (e.g., Samuel Morse, Morse’s biography, portrait, map, etc.). These can be exposed (animated) as needed to help comprehension.

The opening zoom effect is created combining Grow and motion path effects as I described in my two posts on “prezi-style” PowerPoint: here and here. By the way, this is a good application for prezi, if you can tolerate its idiosyncrasies.

Here are the details of the opening effect:

  • The timeline model  is a simple combination of Ovals (milestones) and a Rectangle. I want the result of the zoom to have the first milestone enlarged and centered on the slide space, along with the “line” leading to the next milestone. I chose an enlargement of 300%. Since the text may not automatically resize the way you want it to, adjust the font size manually as needed. Here’s what the slide should look like after the zoom:


  • I used a “transition slide” between the first slide and the first milestone slide to implement the effect. I started by duplicating the first slide, making sure Drawing Guides are set to define the center of the timeline overview object.
  • I will apply a Grow/Shrink effect With a motion path to the timeline to create the transition. I need a “target object” to help get the motion path right.
  • To make the “target,” duplicate the object on the result slide (the enlarged milestone). For clarity, remove the fills and set the outlines to red:


  • Now, add “crosshairs”to the first and third (center) milestones. These are just lines drawn horizontally and vertically on each circle and letting the lines “stick” to the appropriate 4 points on the circle. This is what I mean:


  • Now move this target object to the transition slide so that the number one milestone is centered on the slide over the timeline object. (use the Drawing Guides to accomplish this). The target may not snap to this position; use nudges (arrow keys) to carefully position the target object (hold down Alt with the arrow keys if needed).
  • Here’s what the transition slide should look like; the target represents the desired position and size of the “zoomed” milestone:


  • Select the timeline overview object and apply a Right motion path, Carefully extend the motion path to the center of the target object (marked by the crosshairs on the third milestone). Add a Grow/Shrink 300% effect to the overview object With the motion path. Here’s a closeup of the slide showing the motion path:


  • Set the Smooth Start/End to zero for the motion path. You can experiment with other values to change the zoom effect.
  • Set the first animation on the transition slide to Start After Previous. Set the slide transition to None and Advance Slide to After 0:0:0 (this assures that the transition to the milestone slide will occur immediately after the animations).  By the way, this replaces the poor image that results from the Grow animation.
  • The slide order should be overview, transition, first milestone detail. Test the result to assure that the transition is smooth. You may have to adjust the motion path or the milestone object position.
  • Add animations to the milestone detail slide as needed.

The transitions to the subsequent milestones are Dynamic Content/Pans; this kind of transition keeps the objects on the slide Layout unchaged while applying the the transition to the slide “content “.  A special slide Layout containing the title line must be created; I covered the details in a post on transitions.

Make sure that the slide transitions and animations are timed appropriately and use File/Export/Create a Video to, well, create the video version. I use Internet Quality.

A final note: I have created a “scripted” infographic using video. An interactive version that would allow the reader to browse the timeline would require an interactive medium (e.g., Flash). I will experiment with this in a later 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 objects:

PowerPointy blog – animated timeline

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.


Animation in PowerPoint: Flow


Presentations often show processes, networks, organization charts and similar structures. These systems are sometimes explained by “flow:” data flow in computer networks, material flows in industrial processes, information or cash flows in business processes, etc.

Animation is very useful in these kinds of representations; you can actually show and explain the movement and effect of  data, messages, and other “flow” elements.

This what I call a rational use of animation – actually adding to the impact and effectiveness of a presentation as opposed to distracting or actually putting off your audience. If you want more on this subject see this rant.

One very simple technique for showing a flow is a Wipe animation applied to a Dashed line; here are some examples:

The blue lines have a Round Dot Dash type and a Round Cap type. The green lines also have the Round Dot (oddly) but a Flat Cap type. The animation for all the lines is Wipe From Left; the lower lines have Repeat set to 4.

Here’s how the Wipe effect might be used in a diagram:

Here the flow is from left to right and the starting times are staggered.

There are a few other effects that work with some object outlines. Here’s an example:

Here I used the outline of an Oval shape and applied an Entrance animation effect called Wheel; the Repeat option is used. This effect has a parameter called Spokes; setting Spokes to 4 yields this result:

There are limitations to using Wipe and similar effects. A more flexible approach is to use motion paths; this example shows a continuous flow of separate objects:

Some notes on this effect:

  • Each of the four objects (circles) has a Line motion path with Smooth Start/End set to zero.
  • The Duration of each motion path is 2 sec.; each motion path is delayed by 0.5 sec. relative the the previous one.
  • Each motion path has Repeat = 3. The timing is set so that the flow is uniform. Here is the animation pane:


An attempt at 2-way flow, this version applies Auto-reverse and Repeat =3 to the motion paths for seven objects with the same timing as above:

As you can see, this is pretty confusing. It’s probably better to use separate sets of motion paths to demonstrate 2-way flow as in these two examples:

The second example uses a curved motion path.

For some applications, it is useful to animate discrete messages and use callouts to identify the messages. Here’s a whimsical demo showing interactions in a network:

My post on demonstrating a computer network includes a more elaborate example.

You can also show continuous flows (like a fluid); here’s a simple example:

This applies the Wipe animation to five separate objects in order. Since the options for Wipe (and Stretch) are From Left/Right/Top/Bottom, this technique works best for horizontal or vertical straight flows. (My post on liquids shows similar effects.)

Here’s another example:

This uses some of the techniques in my post on pipes and wires. Here are some details:

  • Basically,  the pipes are created as shapes with 3d effects applied and converted to png images. To get transparent pipes, apply transparency to the shapes before converting to images.
  • Rounded rectangles are used as the fluid – this makes the flow through the bend a little more convincing (this ain’t perfect but it took several tries to get this effect).

Showing a continuous fluid flow over a curved path is a little more complicated. Here’s a way to do it:

The first animation is essentially the same as the earlier examples but with a shorter interval between motion paths (0.1 sec). The second animation adds curved Lines to complete (I hope) the illusion.

If you use a different shape (not a circle), you may have to rotate it as it follows the path. My roller coaster post addresses this.

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

Powerpointy blog – flow

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.


Animation Projects: Arriving and Departing

carHere are a couple more projects similar to the last post.

Here’s the first animation:

The truck appears to move towards the viewer; this is done by combining motion paths with Grow/Shrink animations. As it comes “forward,” the truck appears to drop behind hills in the scene and rise over them. Using several versions of the truck and arranging the scene in layers makes this effect (the technique used in the “putt” animation in the last post.)

As usual, the truck is constructed of standard PowerPoint shapes (although this is a little more elaborate than usual):


Since I need three different sizes of this image, I will use a png version in the animation rather than the original.

Faithful readers will recall that re-sizing (scaling) a PowerPoint object does not affect parts of the object that are measured in points (lines, text, etc.). Converting the object to a png or jpg removes this irritation as in this example:


The slide layout is organized in layers; this makes the animation work. Here’s a sketch:


Here’s the Selection Pane for this slide; objects in the list are In Front of objects below them (e.g., “front truck” is In Front of “forground”):


The foreground and background objects are groups of simple shapes.

There are three versions of the truck image. This is because, as noted in the previous post, an object can’t be in two layers at once. So, at the transitions, the truck behind a layer is replaced (Disappear/Appear) by a truck in front of the layer. Since the size of the truck is changing, the sizes of the truck images is important.

Here is the Animation Pane (annotated):


The last effect uses the Fracture transition effect to reveal the black slide with the text. You may want to try some other “breakthrough” effects outlined in the series starting with this post.

Here are a few details:

  • Start by building the layers of the scene and positioning and sizing the three truck images.
  • Use the Selection Pane to order the elements; naming the elements is also helpful.
  • Add the motion paths; I used the “targeting” technique described in the last post to set the end points of the motion paths.
  • Using the sizes of the truck images, calculate and apply the Grow effect With the motion paths.
  • Adjust the timing so that the animation looks as you want it to.
  • Add the Appear/Disappear effects.
  • Create the next slide and set the Transition effect. Set the first slide to transition at 0:00; this will actually transition after the animations. There is a side effect here; even if you set the animation to start on click, it will start automatically. I have no idea why the PowerPoint designers thought this was a good idea, even if they actually planned it.

Here’s an animation that “reverses” the effect:

Here’s how the car is constructed:


As before, I used png versions of the car image for the animation.

Here’s the Selection Pane for the scene showing how the elements are layered (top of the list = front):


As before, there are three versions of the car.

Here’s the Animation Pane and a enhanced picture of the motion paths:


Some notes:

  • This animation includes a rotation (Spin) along with the Shrink and motion.
  • A few Teeters are used to add some additional action to the motion.
  • The path is not vertical as in the “truck” animation. This makes the car appear to slide sideways a little. You should probably make the motion paths nearly vertical for this kind of animation.  Using diagonal paths realistically would require a 3d version of the object which is a little tough in PowerPoint although I may give it a shot later.

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 – arrival departure

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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