Posts Tagged 'transitions'

Video Infographics in PowerPoint: Cellphone History Example


In an earlier post, I complained about “infographics” – static documents with engaging graphics but difficult to print or to view. A video infographic  is surely a better way.

Video infographics can be used to explain technologies and processes, to inform stake holders, generate sales leads and create interest in organizations, projects and products. And since they can be easily and widely shared, you can experience global fame! Pretty good, huh?

You can hire experts to create animated video infographics – Lemonly and Advids are a couple of companies that appeared when I searched “video infographics” (I have no experience with either company).  You can see lots of inspiring examples on these sites if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Of course, you can create graphics, animation and video with PowerPoint. If you have no budget and you have been a reader of this blog, this is a good alternative for creating engaging short videos to tell your story.

In the earlier post, I sketched out a generalized timeline; in this post I will create a more specific example based on a static infographic on cellphone history published by FierceMobileIT in 2015. Here’s what it looks like (typically, it’s pretty unmanageable as a document):


The idea is to show specific cellphones in order of their introduction, indicating their features and the technologies replaced by those features.

Here’s my video version:

NOTE: The concept, information content and overall design were created by FierceMobileIT.

Here are some notes on transitions and animations:

  • The first slide introduces the subject and displays an animated timeline with phone silhouettes.
  • The transition to the second slide is a Morph; the first phone silhouette (the DynaTAC) was copied and positioned on the second slide to get the “zoom” effect.


  • After the transition, the silhouette exits with a Fade animation and the complete phone image enters with a simultaneous Fade.
  • Subsequent transitions are Dynamic Content/Pan/From Right. The Dynamic Content transitions move slide content while Layout content remains still. That is, the Layout acts as a static background while the content moves (Pans). I created a new Layout with red borders for this effect.


  • Animations on each slide disclose the features and technologies one at a time.

Here are some notes on the phone and icon drawings:

  • The stylized phone drawings use techniques I have documented repeatedly on this blog.
  • Front (and sometimes side) views of the phone are created using combinations of standard shapes. For this project I used the original infographic and photos from the web as the basis for the drawings.
  • Fills (and some times Line colors) are added; I used colors from the infographic.
  • I added 3D Depth and, in a few cases, Bevels. Then, I applied 3D Rotations to the view(s) to create the 3D versions.
  • Here’s an overview of the process:


  • I used a consistent rotation style – Parallel/Off-Axis 2 (Perspective is more complicated and not needed for this stylized drawing):


  • For “oblique” surfaces (the flip-phone covers), the rotation was manually adjusted.
  • The silhouettes were created basically by changing all Fills in a 3D phone object to red; some additional fiddling (changing Materials and Lighting Angles, for example) was required. I converted the “red” images to PNGs to avoid scaling problems when I created the timeline on the first slide,
  • The “flat style” icons were also created with standard shapes (with only a couple of FreeForms); here are a few examples:


  • An alternative is to download vector icons from the web and recolor them; most of these icons are fairly standard.

For the video, make sure all transitions and animations are timed (no clicks). Test the sequences several times to get the timing right. Remember to give the audience enough time  to absorb each step, remembering that the audience is seeing this for the first time. Narration, sound effects and/or a sound track can be added.

If you would like to create global awareness or just teach somebody, you can download a PowerPoint “source” file for this infographic here:

Powerpointy Blog – Video Infographic

This file contains one or more unusual fonts; other fonts may be substituted in your environment. This can affect alignment and layout. 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.


Prezi-style PowerPoint Updated

I have published several posts demonstrating techniques for approximating Prezi’s “pan and zoom” style in PowerPoint. The idea is to allow you to combine this engaging visual style with other PowerPoint features (e.g., animation).

This post showed you how to make a presentation that explored a simple space containing geometric objects; the technique involves making several “scenes” and creating prezi-like transitions using zoom and motion path animations to move the viewer through the space. Although this method works, it is a little tricky and I found it difficult to explain.

In PowerPoint 2016, a “Morph” transition was introduced that makes prezi-style PowerPoint much easier. Here’s a version of the presentation in the earlier post; this one is created using the Morph transition:

Here’s how I made this sequence:

  • First, I created the welcome slide; it displays the entire space that I plan to explore: a slide-size background (yellow) and three shapes (I’ll take care of the text later). I Grouped the background and shapes into a single object; I’ll call this the “space group.”
  • Next, I Duplicated the first slide to make the second slide.
  • On the second slide, I enlarged the space group by about 200% and positioned the group so that the blue circle is centered in the visible slide space (zoom in to make this easier). Here’s what the second slide looks like (I added a blue slide-sized rectangle to show the slide boundaries; you can see that only the desired part of the enlarged space group will be visible):


  • Next, I selected the Morph transition for the slide, I accepted the default timing and options. The Morph transition will create zooming and motion so that the first slide will smoothly transform into the “close-up” I created on the second slide.

NOTE: there is much more to the Morph transition, both good and evil. I will be exploring some of these traits in later posts.

  • I repeated the process of duplicating, editing and applying the transition to create slides three and four; slide four includes a rotation. Here’s what the sequence looks like (again, the blue rectangle shows the visible slide):


  • Finally, I added the text and and animations.

I was able to create this sequence in a few minutes – much less time than the original method.

A spicier example using the Morph transition can be found here  My method for animating mind maps (see post) can also be simplified using Morph.

Like all PowerPoint features, the Morph transition is not without problems.  To see one of them, let’s examine a variation of this sequence; suppose I want, not unreasonably,  to add outlines and text to the shapes in the “space:”


Here’s the first transition using Morph as before:


turdThis particular problem is not with Morph itself, but is a result of enlarging the group to create the second slide; to whit: PowerPoint’s idiotic rule that the usual tools used to resize objects do not apply to point-measured details like line width and font size. In particular, when the scene is enlarged (using the sizing handles or Format Shape/Size) the text and outlines are not enlarged.

This problem will occur with any point-measured feature including shadows, soft edges, glows and 3d parameters like bevels and depths. Why these are measured in points is an enduring mystery.

I know of three ways to fix this:

  • Do the job PowerPoint should have done; that is, change the line widths and font sizes to correspond with the enlargement. In the case of the blue circle, the enlargement is 200% so I changed the line width from 6 points to 12 and the font size from 48 to 96 points. This isn’t difficult – fractions of points work just fine.  Here’s the first transition after the point sizes were manually adjusted:
  • Another method is to convert (Copy/Paste Special) the scene to a picture (e.g., png) and enlarge it for the second slide. Even though this is easy, the issue is that PowerPoint doesn’t do a great job enlarging pictures so the result may be a little fuzzy:
  • Another method is to avoid lines and text altogether – this is the most difficult but will exercise your PowerPoint skills. The diagram below illustrates the steps to build the blue circle without lines and text.
    • The outlined circle is made with two concentric circles, one slightly larger than the other.
    • The text is converted to Freeform by Intersecting the text with a Rectangle (Intersect is a Merge Shapes option).
    • Grouping the circles with the Freeform creates an object that can be enlarged to create the desired result.


I conclude, dear reader, that Morph provides an easy way to create Prezi-like transitions in PowerPoint but also, sadly, that Morph is a little like decorating a badly constructed house: flaws may be exposed.

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 the Prezi-style transition sequence:

Powerpointy blog – Prezi-style PowerPoint updated

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


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:


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:


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:


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.

Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint


NOTICE: An updated version of this post is available; it uses Morph transitions (available in newer versions of PowerPoint) to greatly simplify the animations.

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.



PowerPoint Secrets: More Transitions as Animations


This is a follow-up to the last post which was about using slide transitions in the role of on-slide animations. One technique I demonstrated was to create a separate file using the transition effect, convert it to a video, and insert it into the presentation.

This post will not make much sense unless you read the last one.

At the end of the post, I suggested that this doesn’t work very well for some transitions. For example, if I try to create a photo carousel effect  using a Gallery transition, this is the result:

The black artifacts that appear are probably not desirable. About 11 of the available transitions in my version of PowerPoint have artifacts like this.

I also said that the size and shape of the slides in the presentation used to create the video can also have an effect. Here’s an example with a custom slide size:

Here’s how I did this one:

  • I created a new presentation and inserted the contract image into the first (blank) slide.
  • The image is about 7″x5.4″. I changed the slide size (Design/Slide Size/Custom…) to the same size plus an inch vertically. I’ll explain the extra inch later. Here’s what the slide looks like:


When you change the slide size, PowerPoint offers two options: Maximize and Ensure Fit. If you pick the first option, PowerPoint will basically leave your slide content alone. If you pick the second option, PowerPoint tries to scale objects on the slide to fit the new slide. This will often lead to distortions. I  usually pick the first option and layout the slide manually. Thanks but no thanks.

  • Next, I created the second blank slide and added a Crush transition.
  • After a few adjustments , I converted the presentation to video and inserted the video in my original presentation. (See the original post for details). Here’s what the resulting slide looks like:


  • I did not crop or resize the video frame. I did set it against the bottom margin of the slide so that the crushed contract appears to fall off the bottom of the slide (this is what the extra inch in the slide slide size is for).

Here’s another example announcing a new service:

This example uses the Curtain transition and shows how you can combine the re-sized video with an object (a simple proscenium) on the slide. In some ways, a video is just another PowerPoint object.

Here are some other useful things you can do with videos:

  • Crop and resize the video frame
  • Change the shape of the video frame
  • Synchronize the video with other animations
  • Edit (in a limited way) the video

Of course, you can do these things with any video, not just the ones you create. And there are other possibilities that I will explore in later posts.

Here’s an example

This example combines a video created with a Fracture transition with a simple Fly-in animation. Here are some details (again, refer to the previous post if you haven’t already):

  • The PowerPoint file from which the video was made has a square (7.5in x 7.5in) format.
    • The first slide contains the target image and the second contains the text.
    • The first  slide has no transition; the second has a Fracture transition with a 0.5 sec duration.
    • The first slide is set to advance after 0:00 sec; the second  advances on click.
    • The file was exported as a video.
  • I inserted the video into my presentation file, resized it to fit and changed the shape of the video to a circle.
  • The black circle has a Fly In/From Lower Left animation with the Hide After Animation option.
  • To get the timing right, I used video Trim to make sure that the video started at the time the Fracture effect started (there is a slight delay in the video – I’m not sure why).
  • I also used Trim to eliminate the last 5 seconds of the video; here’s what the Trim pane looks like:


The extra 5 seconds in the original video is the default slide timing for the video conversion. This showed up because the last slide had Advance on Click set rather than a time – it was easier to fix this here than go back and re-make the video.

  • I also overlapped the animation with the video to get the timing to look right; here’s the animation pane:


Here’s a similar experiment using the Ripple transition:

The details are similar to the Fracture example except that the Ripple effect has an unwanted “artifact” around the edges. I eliminated that by cropping the video a little more.

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

Powerpointy blog – more transitions as animations

Here are the four video source (PowerPoint) files:

Powerpointy blog – crush video source file

Powerpointy blog – curtain video source file

Powerpointy blog – target video source file

Powerpointy blog – ripple video source file

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 – Using Transitions as Animations


In my last post, I used a slide transition to simplify construction of a “photo carousel” effect. This post is about using transitions in other unusual ways.

But first, I beg your indulgence for a short rant about transitions. To wit: transitions are like animation in general; using transitions just because Microsoft says they are “exciting” is poisonous. They should be used only for a reason (see this post for a more complete essay on this subject). See this article for a similar view. Finally, see this source to see how bad this kind of thing can get.

The carousel post used a “dynamic content” transition; this essentially allows you to specify which objects on the slide are affected by the transition effect. Other objects (e.g., the slide title, background and your logo) remain fixed during the transition. So, the effect looks like an animation rather than a transition.

In the usual transitions, the entire slide is affected. Of course, in some cases, this not apparent. Here’s an example using a transition to a second slide to mimic an Entrance animation:

This is a Random Bars transition but, since the two slides are identical except for the “review” box, only the review box “appears.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t add much to our toolbox, since only 8 of the 45 available transitions (in my version of PowerPoint) work this way. And these don’t add much to our animation repertoire.

In some cases, a transition that affects the entire slide can be used effectively. Here’s an example:

This is a version of an effect I developed in my earlier breakthrough post. This one uses a Fracture transition and is much simpler to create.

Only a few dynamic content transitions (7 in my version) are available. Is there a way to use the other transitions as animations? The answer is, as you might expect, sort of.

The trick is to build the transition effect in a separate file, convert it to video, and then insert into your presentation where needed.

Whoa, you might say. Isn’t this overkill? Is it worth it to get involved in the complications of video?

Don’t be intimidated, dear reader. PowerPoint video conversions are easy and work quite well. How do you think I made all the demos you see in these posts? In fact I think I’ll look at some more video-related projects in upcoming posts.

Here is a project that uses a video for the “curtain” effect:

Here’s how:

  • The basic slide is created first, with the text.
  • In a separate presentation, create two slides. The first is the customer service agent, and the second is a rectangle with the text “PLEASE WAIT.” The rectangle is sized and positioned so that, after the transition to the second slide, the rectangle will cover the agent. The slides look like this:


  • On slide one, set the transition to None, and check the Advance Slide/After 00:00:00 box. This will make the transition to the nest slide occur automatically, immediately after the presentation starts. On slide 2, set the transition to Drape and set the Duration (2.75 sec in my case). Also, check the Advance Slide/On Click box; this prevents the presentation from ending with a black screen.
  • Run Slide Show to check the results. Edit the slides as needed.
  • Now convert to video: select File/Export/Create a Video.
  • Select Internet Quality; this is usually sufficient for presentations.
  • The Use Recorded Timings and Narrations box should appear; this means that the conversion will  use the transition timings you have set. If this box doesn’t appear automatically, go back and make sure that the slide transitions are timed rather than “on click.”
  • Click Create Video. I usually use the filename of the PowerPoint file (the default) for the video. Conversion may take a while; there is an indicator that the conversion is happening at the bottom of the PowerPoint window.
  • Here’s what the video looks like:
  • Next, insert the video in the original slide. Select Insert/Video/Video on My PC… and select the video created above. I used the same slide size for the video as the original so the inserted video placeholder will cover the whole slide.
  • In Video Tools/Playback, set Start to Automatically. This will put the video in the Animation Pane like an animation effect.
  • Click on the video placeholder and use Video Tools/Format/Crop and resize to get the video placeholder to the right shape, size and location. This is just like working with a Picture.
  • Open the Animation Pane. You will see the video as an event and as a “trigger” item. The trigger is not needed in this application; Remove it from the animation pane.
  • Animate the text and set the timing relative to the video as needed. Note that the duration of the video does not appear, unfortunately.  Here’s the slide and animation pane:


  • Run Slideshow to verify the effect: the second line of text and the “curtain” should appear on click.

Here are some additional notes on this technique:

  • In the example, the backgrounds of the presentation and the video are the same (white); that is, the background of the PowerPoint file used to create the video is the same as the background where the video will be used. You can get away with this for a uniformly colored background but a more complicated (e.g., gradient) background may cause problems.
  • Some transitions involve extra “background” elements. For example, Gallery moves the slide images against a black background that you may not want and there is no way to make this disappear.
  • Using a bigger crop of the video may increase (or not) the impact of the effect. You can set the aspect ratio (slide size) of the PowerPoint file used to create the video so that you can use the entire slide if you desire.

Wow. This is getting more complicated than I intended. So, I’ll show some more examples in a follow-up post. You can try experimenting with the technique in the meantime.

As usual, if you want a free copy of the PowerPoint files used in this post, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – transitions as animations

Here is the source file for the video:

Powerpointy blog – sm cutain video source file

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.

More Prezi-style PowerPoint

zoom girlOne of the things that Prezi brings to the table is a non-linear presentation style. Rather than being locked in to a start-to-finish sequence, the presenter can react to the audience and, in the case of a web-based presentation, the viewer can directly navigate to specific areas of interest.

Some of my earlier posts have addressed this:

  • Non-linear navigation – this post outlines the benefits of non- linear navigation (along with caveats) and demonstrates the use of hyperlinks in PowerPoint. In particular, it points out that a stand-up presenter must use a true pointing device to select and activate hyperlinked objects.
  • “Custom Slide Shows” – shows how to use a feature called “custom slide shows” to organize presentation material so that sales presentations can be tailored to specific prospects.
  • Prezi-style navigation and effects – demonstrates animation techniques that mimic Prezi zooming effects.

I am also inspired by a couple of other things:

  • A reader pointed me to pptPlex, an unsupported “Office Labs experiment” – a free PowerPoint plugin (released in 2011).
  • I ran across a July 2014 press release on ActivePlex, an add-in from GMARK.

Both of these appear to support non-linear presentations based on PowerPoint. I have not used either of these and have no opinion regarding them. If you have had experience with either of these, please let me know what you think (comment or use the form at the end of this post).

So, here’s the plan:

  • The presentation material is organized into a series of Custom Shows, each addressing a specific topic (intro/about us, portfolio, customer profiles, etc.).
  • The “canvas” or “map,” the starting point for navigation, is a slide containing images of the first slide of each of the Custom Shows. A hyperlink is associated with each image so that it provides a clickable link to the corresponding show.
  • The first slide of each show is designed so that it is legible as a smaller image on the map.
  • Each slide includes an escape button that returns to the map. This allows the presenter or viewer to cut short that show.
  • Prezi-style “zoom” transitions are provided for each show entry and exit.
  • Other navigation is restricted so that the presenter/viewer can’t go astray in the “deck.”

Here’s a diagram for the example I’ll build here (four shows):

prz2 1

The process:

  • Build each segment/show – create or collect the slides as a sequence in the file. Design the opening slide so that it will be legible as the smaller image on the map. For now, insert a blank slide for the transitions (the first and last slides). For the example, I created 4 shows, each with 3 slides.
  • Define each sequence as a Custom Show:  Under Custom Slide Show/Custom Shows select New. Using the Define Custom Show pane, name the show and select the slides in the file and add to the new show. Continue for each segment.
  • Hide each slide in each show. This will prevent the presenter/viewer from accidentally selecting slides in the show. Even though the slides are hidden, they will appear normally when the Custom Show is evoked.
  • Make a full-sized png image of the first slide in each show. You can do this by using the presentation Save As function. Position at the slide, select Save As/Other Formats/PNG and select the Save Current Slide option.
  • Make the map/canvas slide – create a new slide as the first slide, and insert each slide image. Reduce each image and arrange on the slide. Here’s the map slide for the example:

map image

  • For the prezi-style zoom transitions, it will be useful to know the size of each image relative to the slide. In my example each image is 4 inches wide and the slide is 10 inches (the default slide size).
  • Set up each image as a clickable link to the corresponding show. Right click an image and select Hyperlink… . In the Edit Hyperlink pane, select Place in This Document. Find the Custom Shows item in the list and select the appropriate show. Check the Show and Return box.
  • Add an exit button to each slide in each custom show. Design an unobtrusive object to act as the button (I used a “rewind”symbol) and create a reduced size PNG version of the object. Right click on the reduced object and select Hyperlink… . Select Place in This Document and, under Slide Titles, select the map slide. Paste the button on each slide in this show. Repeat the process for each show.
  • It’s a good idea to add a Screen Tip to each hyperlinked object (the slide images and the exit button). This is text that appears when the mouse is over (hovers over) the hyperlinked object. The text appearance will  signal to the presenter/viewer that the object is linked and provide information about the purpose of the link. This option is available in the Edit Hyperlink pane.
  • Test the result – exercise all the links and assure that clicking the last slide in each show returns to the map slide.

Here’s an annotated slide sorter view of the resulting file:

prz2 2

The hyperlinks from the map slide are shown in yellow. The escape button is linked to the map slide. All the transition placeholder slides are shown in gray. Note that a return link from each show is not needed since the entry links have the Show and Return option selected.

Each show has a prezi-style (entry) transition and a reverse (exit) transition. Here’s what the entry transition looks like:

The PowerPoint animation is smoother than the video indicates.

As usual, I approach this by setting up a “target” object for the animation. Here are the steps:

  • Create a full size png version of the map slide using Save As and Insert it on the transition slide.
  • Enlarge the map slide image by 250%.
  • Create a center point (“cross hair”) of the image by drawing a Line from the midpoint of one side of the image to the opposite side and repeat for the remaining two sides. The end points of the Lines will turn red when they are properly positioned.

I would normally use drawing guides for this but, since PowerPoint does not allow drawing guides outside the boundaries of a slide, I use the “cross hair” technique instead.

  • Carefully position the enlarged slide image with the Lines so that the first slide is positioned exactly in the visible slide space. It’s helpful to create a slide-sized rectangle in front of the image to identify the slide space boundaries. Here’s what the setup looks like:

prz2 7

  •  The yellow rectangle outlines the visible slide space.
  • Now that the “target” is set, add another image of the map slide, original size, positioned in the slide space.
  • Apply a Right motion path to the original image. Uncheck Smooth Start/End and set the duration to Fast (1 sec). Carefully position the end point of the motion path to the intersection of the red lines on the larger image.
  • Add a Grow/Shrink 250% With the motion path and Fast duration.
  • Set the Advance Slide option to Advance Automatically after 00:00 sec.
  • Test the result and modify the position of the target and the motion path end point until the transition is smooth. Here’s the final set up:

prz2 4

Once the animation is adjusted to your liking, you can remove the “target” (the enlarged image). Since the slide advance is automatic, the somewhat fuzzy result of the Grow animation is immediately replaced by the actual slide.

Repeat the process to provide an entry transition for each story. You can re-use the story 1 transition slide but reposition the large image and modify the motion paths.

The reverse or return animation looks like this:

The construction of this animation is complicated by a PowerPoint bug that causes motion paths for large objects (more than twice the size of the slide space) to work incorrectly.

NOTE: A reader informs me that there is no sign of this bug in the latest PowerPoint versions

Here are the steps:

  • Set drawing guides as shown below; these will serve as targets for the motion paths and an aid for the next step:

prz2 5

  • Insert the map slide image and, using the Crop tool and the 0.0 in. vertical guide, create two halves of the map slide image:

prz2 6

Temporarily, group the two halves together and enlarge the group by 250%. Position the group so that the image of slide 1 is centered in the visible slide space (the yellow rectangle identifies the slide space as before):

prz2 7

Ungroup the image into its two parts and apply the motion paths (and Grow/Shrink 40%) to each half as shown here:

prz2 8

  •  Repeat for each story, using this slide, repositioning the image and modifying the motion paths.

A  couple of additional notes about restricting the presenter/viewer navigation:

  • You can use the PowerPoint Advanced/Slide Show option to disable Show Menu on Right Mouse Click and Show Popup Toolbar.  Obviously, this will prevent the presenter/viewer from getting off track. Warning: this is a global option – it is not a setting for this particular file but for all PowerPoint presentations.
  • As it now stands, clicking on the map slide at locations other than the slide images will end the presentation; this might be disconcerting for the presenter/viewer. For a solution, create a slide-sized rectangle behind the slide images and add a hyperlink to this slide. Add an object as an end button and link it to a dummy last slide. Here’s a diagram:

prz2 9

  •  With this arrangement, the slide images work as before, the exit button ends the presentation, and any other clicks stay on this slide.

As usual, if you want a free copy of the example presentation developed in this post, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – More prezi-style

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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