Posts Tagged 'spin animation'

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The animation suggests that outdated legacy technology puts the organization in the red danger zone.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

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.

Wheels of Fortune – “Random” Spins


I previously published a series of posts (Part 1, Part 2) on “wheels” – various circular objects useful for showing parts of a whole (e.g., product line, addressed markets, client types, etc.). One post (Part 3) demonstrated an animated wheel similar to a carnival wheel of chance or TV’s “Wheel of Fortune.”

Several readers have wanted to use the wheel of fortune as part of a game or a learning experience that required random spins. Since the amount of spin is determined by a fixed number, my response has always been that I didn’t know how to make the wheel spin by some undetermined “random” amount.

I’ve done a little research since then; I think there may be two ways to create a “random” spin:

  1. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)  is a programming language that can be used to add functionality to Microsoft Office applications (sometimes called “macros”). It’s probably possible to create a random spin using VBA. I have used VBA in Excel but not in PowerPoint; I am not an expert.
  2. A user input (click) can be used to stop the Spin animation at a essentially unpredictable point. This makes use of the Repeat/Until next click animation option.

I found this method at the PPT Alchemy site (here); this is a site devoted to weird and wonderful PowerPoint tips and tricks.

Since the first method requires specialized knowledge, I used the second method which is quite simple.

Here’s the scheme:

  • This is a two-slide sequence (more about this later):


  • The first slide is a blank layout (both slides use the same theme so that the background will match). The transition for the first slide is After .01 sec (the minimum) and it has no transition effect.
  • The second slide includes an instruction box (optional), a wheel from the previous post, a stationary indicator and a reset button.
  • Here’s the animation pane for the second slide:


  • The first effect applied to the wheel starts on a click; it’s a Spin (360 degrees clockwise, 1 second duration) with Repeat/Until Next Click set.
  • The second effect applies to the reset button; it’s an Appear starting on a click.
  • The reset button has a hyperlink to the first slide.

Here’s how it works:

  • The first slide immediately transitions to the second slide.
  • The presenter’s first click on the second slide starts the wheel spinning.
  • The second click does two things: it stops the wheel spin and makes the reset button appear.
  • The indicator shows the “winning” sector on the stopped wheel. The animation can stop anywhere so the result might be ambiguous.
  • At this point the presenter can spin again by clicking on the reset button; this links to the first blank slide which immediately transitions to the wheel slide.
  • The purpose of the blank slide is now revealed: it simply provides a target to re-enter the wheel slide. Linking directly to the wheel slide will not reset the animation.
  • The presenter can move to a next slide by clicking anywhere on the wheel slide as usual.
  • The Appear animation on the reset button is necessary; otherwise, the click that stops the wheel would also transition immediately to the next slide. Not what we want.

This basic technique may have other applications; I’ll think about that.

You can use the tips in the previous “wheel” posts to construct your own wheel and apply this technique. If you want to try it, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file containing these objects:

Powerpointy blog – wheels random spin

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 Secrets – Where’s the Center?


Here’s a a 144 pt Calibri character:


An outline has been added (blue). The alignment is Center; the text box attributes are:


Since you have read my post on the size of Calibri, you will not expect the character itself to be 144 pts high. The actual character height (green box) is about 1.26 in. The text box (blue) is 2.42 in high; I don’t know why (maybe it has something to do with line spacing). I have added a red bar 144 pts (2 in) high. None of the other dimensions seems to have any obvious relationship to 144 pts.

The situation is similar with Arial:


The “graphical center” of the character is as indicated by the “handles;” rotating the object manually bears this out.

Or is  it?

Here’s the object with a Spin animation:

I added the blue lines to the object to indicate its “graphical center” and the red lines to show the position in the background.

Note that the Spin animation rotates the object around a different “animation center.” Some other animations are also affected; here’s a Grow/Shrink animation:

The gray image indicates where the animation should end up, based on the graphical center. The animation thinks the center is somewhere else,

Text typed into a shape has (apparently) different dimensions; here’s a 2 in circle with a 144 pt character (Do not autofit is selected):

c25The alignment tools treat this shape as expected, given the bounding box and handles.

However, animation treats this kind of shape differently. Here’s what a Spin animation looks like.

The shape wobbles because it is Spinning around a point different than the graphical center. Here’s how a few other objects containing the text Spin:

There is another area where the presence of text has an unexpected effect: conversion to pictures (pngs). Here are examples:

c24The first object is a rectangle with some lines added; the png version appears identical. The second object is the same but with text typed into it.  The png version is substantially bigger and the center is offset. I don’t know why.

The moral to this overall story is that when you’re working with text, there can be some unexpected results. There may be other anomalies than those mentioned here.

Following are some workarounds for these examples:

  • You can deal with the picture conversion issue by cropping the result to any size and shape you need.
  • You can also cure the wobble by converting the object to a picture and then cropping to get the center of the picture congruent with the geometric center. The disadvantage is, of course, that the picture can’t be edited like the original object.
  • You can group the object with a containing circle to force the center of rotation to any desired position.  Here’s an example; the circle is green but would normally be made invisible (No line). The circle must be made fairly large to eliminate the wobble:
  • When a character is typed into a shape, these anomalies occur when the text is large relative to the shape (even though it appears to be contained within the shape). You can fix them by reducing the text size but I assume there’s a reason you wanted the text large in the first place. By the way, I had to reduce the text size to 60 pts in a 2 in circle to get the wobble to go away – a reduction to about 40%.

Well, dear reader, I tire of these irritants and end this treatise. Resume your duties.

Creating Animated “Meters” in PowerPoint (Updated with Videos)

A meter (a thermometer or speedometer, for example) can be a metaphor for indicating change.  Meters in presentations can show a change resulting from an action.  For example, this slide shows how employee performance can change customer satisfaction:

One advantage of a meter is that it can indicate qualitative change in a definite way.  Of course, if you have the numbers, the meter can show that too.

This post will show you how to construct a meter and animate it. The slide above is the result we want; each time a bullet appears, we want the meter to swing towards positive (three steps).

If you want to see how the satisfaction meter is constructed and animated along with some other examples of meters, see the end of this post and download a “source file.”

Here are the parts of the meter: a rounded rectangle for the “case,” a block arc for the window, and two circles for the range markers.

Use guidelines to align the meter parts.  Also, the block arc should be circular (equal height and width).  Use the shift key while creating or adjusting the block arc to keep it proportioned correctly.  Use the Format/Size pane to adjust the height and width if needed.

Now for the moving part – the needle.  Here we use a trick to set the center point for a rotating object: group the object with an invisible circle whose center point is the desired point of rotation.

The green circle and triangle below form the “needle group.” Again, use the guidelines to position the needle group at the center of the block arc.

I intentionally positioned the needle in the center position to make the next step easier: measuring the desired “swing” of the needle.  To do this, select the green handle and rotate the needle group (eyeball it) to the rightmost position.  Look at the Size and Position pane to determine the size of the rotation; in this case it requires a rotation of 54° to swing the needle group from the center position to the rightmost position.  So, the total swing is 2×54=108° (click on the picture for a larger version).

What’s the point of measuring the swing? Since we want the swing to happen in three steps, we now know that each step is 108/3=36°.

Here’s how to animate the meter: using the Size and Position panel, rotate the needle group by -54° – this is the starting position. Now apply animation to the group:  Spin Clockwise, 36°, On Click, Very Fast.  Use SlideShow mode to check the result.

Now, add two more steps (each animation will rotate the needle group from its last position so each Spin is 36°):

Now that you’ve got the mechanism working, make the meter more presentable. First, make the circle in the needle group invisible by setting Line Color to No line. Then, fill the needle (red) and the case (gray gradient)

Fill the window with white. Create text boxes for the minus and plus and group with the corresponding circle (the minus is 40 pts, the plus is 32 pts):

If you want, add 3D effects to give the meter more dimensionality:

For this effect, apply the Cross 3D bevel to the case,  the Soft Curve 3D bevel to the window and the Angle 3D bevel to the needle.

Now build the slide and sequence the animation (click on the picture for a larger version):

Each bullet starts On Click and the meter animation (Spin) Follows Previous (occurs immediately after the bullet).

Here are some other meter types:

Notes on these meters:

  • You can use red, yellow and green to indicate improvement.
  • Recalculate the swing to add more steps like the 4-step meter shown.
  • Use text on the meter face (percentages, etc.) to indicate the steps.
  • The slider types use a Motion Path for animation; you can use a three-color linear gradient for a multi-step slider .
  • The big dial versions provide more space to label the meter.
  • The thermometer uses several segments of color and Wipe from Bottom animation.
  • Use a semitransparent gray overlay (circles) to dim the bulbs in the light bar – Fade in or out to light and dim the bulbs.
  • You may want to use a “cable” to connect your meter to a text box or other object.

If you want to see how the  meters  are  constructed and animated or if you want to adapt them to your presentation,use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing these objects:

Powerpointy blog – animated meters

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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