Posts Tagged 'zoom'

Flying: Birds and Bugs


Inspired by the last post on crawlers and crawling, this post uses some of the same techniques to create flying creatures. Specifically, I’ll use motion paths (or zooms) combined with repeated Emphasis effects to simulate flight. Of course, PowerPoint animation tools are limited (and I’m not an expert on animal locomotion) so these animations are intended as acceptable approximations.

Here’s an example – a bird’s eye view of a bird:


As is my usual practice, I made the bird body and a wing by combining standard shapes.  The wing was copied and Flipped Vertical to make the opposite wing. The body parts were grouped; the two wings were also grouped for purposes of the animation:


The bird is placed off the slide to the left. The first step in the animation was to apply the motion path to the body; the path terminates off the slide to the right. I eliminated the Smooth Start/Stop option. Next, using the Animation Painter, I copied the motion path to the wing group. Using the Painter assures that the wings and body will stay in the same relative position during the motion.

Next I added the “flapping” animation to the wing group; this is a Grow/Shrink/Vertical/10% effect with Auto Reverse checked. Here’s what this effect looks like by itself, Repeated 3 times:


This basically the same effect used in the post on crawling; here are a couple of notes:

  • The Vertical/Horizontal options on the Grow/Shrink are relative to the slide, not the object. This means that this application only works well for nearly vertical or horizontal motion paths (see the crawling post for details).
  • The “shrink” value of 10% is enough to make the wings disappear behind the body.
  • You will have to experiment with the durations of the Grow/Shrink and motion path and the number of Repeats to get the effect you want. In the completed bird animation, the duration of the motion path and the “flapping” is 2.5 sec and the Grow/Shrink is Repeated 8 times. See the crawling post for details on using the timeline tools to get these results.


You can add details to the bird and the background to get the effect you want. I wouldn’t use photographic backgrounds (e.g., aerial landscape photos) with this simplistic bird.

Actual bird flight is really complicated; the wings change shape in remarkable ways. In the next example, this is suggested by using two different wing shapes. Here’s a raven crossing the moors:


Here’s how the raven is constructed:


Each wing is grouped with a mirror image (red outlined). This assures that the wing will grow and shrink relative to the birds body; the mirror image will be made invisible (no line) in the final animation. I often group an object with a circle to relocate its “center” for animation effects; this is another way.

Here’s a slow wing beat animation:


Here’s the animation pane:


The first effect is a shrink of the bottom wing (all Grow/Shrinks are Vertical). This is not part of the wing beat animation but avoids starting the bottom wing with a grow which might result in a poor rendering of the shape. In the final animation, this step will occur off the visible slide area.

You will notice that the wings don’t completely disappear since the “shrink” is 10%. If you shrink to 0%, the wing will disappear – forever. That is, subsequent “grows” have no effect as the object remains invisible. There is a certain consistency in this behavior so I won’t complain. I will have to add Appear/Disappear effects to the final version.

Here’s the animation pane for the final raven animation:


turdI had to manually duplicate the series of effects (red boxes above). I have complained before about the lack of tools in the animation pane; a way to group steps and repeat the group or, at least, copy and paste, would be nice.

The background in the final raven animation is from a web source. This could have been created in PowerPoint but I decided not to. So sue me.

Here’s another familiar flyer:


Here’s how the fly is constructed


  • The wings are Teardrop shapes.
  • The body includes Chord shapes for eyes and Curves for the legs.
  • Wings, eyes and legs are created once and Flipped Horizontal to create the opposite version.
  • The wings are grouped together, as are the body parts.
  • Circles are added to the wing group and the body group so that the two groups share a common center – this helps with the animation.
  • The wing fills are transparent.
  • The eyes are filled with a PNG copy of the Sphere pattern fill. The PNG copy ‘freezes the pattern to assure that I get the appearance I want.

The animation uses Basic Zoom effects to  simulate motion towards the viewer (out of the slide). The wings are set at an angle of 30 degrees and a Repeated/Auto-reversed Spin animation of 60 degrees simulates wing beats. Here’s the animation pane:


I used Basic Zoom rather than Zoom because Zoom includes a Fade effect that I did not want here.

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 – birds and bugs

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.

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 unchanged 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.


Making Screenshots Work in PowerPoint

fryScreenshots (-grabs, -captures, -caps) are used in a lot of PowerPoint presentations to show software product user interfaces, web content, results from analysis software, etc. They are probably essential in software training presentations.

The problem with screenshots in presentations is that they are almost always illegible. Presenters do little more than paste the image onto a PowerPoint slide, not understanding that the audience sitting more than a few feet from the projected image will not be able to discern the text or other details; if a “widescreen” monitor is used, the problem is even worse. Any value that the screenshot adds to the presentation is lost.

Excuse me while I engage in a brief rant:

  • Presenting illegible material is not only pointless, it is irritating. It is a symptom of a major (and astounding) fault in most presentation designs: failure to consider the audience
  • Presentation gurus will often tell you to “simplify” – in your world, you may deal with complex subjects and your challenge is to present complexity clearly. Making screenshots work for you is an example of how to approach this challenge.

You will usually use screenshots because they add credibility – the software exists and it really works, the analysis tools show these results. etc. The challenge is to show details within the context of the screen. This suggests zooming in and out of the screen; I’ll show you a few techniques in this post.

To capture a screenshot In Windows, press a function key (look for “print screen” or a similar caption) or a function key plus a modifier to copy the current screen contents to the clipboard. Software is available to capture screens on other systems/devices. In Windows, adding the Alt key captures only the active window or you can use the Crop tool to get the appropriate part of the image after Pasting the image to a slide.

PowerPoint 2013 includes Insert/Screenshot which allows you to capture (and crop) any active window directly.

If your screenshot comes from someone else, try to get a high resolution version since we will be enlarging parts of the image for clarity.

For no particular reason, the examples will use a user interface screenshot for Audacity, an open source audio editor:


Imagine that the presenter wants to explain individual parts of the Audacity interface; for example, the “toolbox” at the top center.

To start, make a copy of this tool box – duplicate the screenshot, position the duplicate directly over the original and crop the duplicate to contain only the tool box. The copied/cropped tool box should be directly over the original:


Next, enlarge the toolbox, while keeping it in position – use Shift/Ctrl while adjusting the corner handle or use the Size and Position pane to enlarge the image by a specific percentage. The larger toolbox is outlined in red for this demonstration:


Add the Enter/Zoom/In animation effect to get this result:

Another slightly more convincing zoom uses Grow/Shrink animation. Start with the duplicated toolbox at its original size and position and apply Enter/Fade animation followed by Grow/Shrink/200%; this is the result:

You may notice that the result of the Grow is poorly rendered. You can correct this by replacing the Grow result with enlarged version of the original after the Grow animation. Here are the steps:

  • Set drawing guides to locate the center of the cropped tool box.
  • Copy the cropped tool box and Paste/Special to convert to png (this step will allow the outline to be scaled in the next step).
  • Use the Size and Position pane to resize the png 200% – this is the amount used in the Grow animation,
  • Using the drawing guides, position the png over the original cropped toolbox.
  • Apply Appear to the png and Disappear to the cropped toolbox after the Grow.

Here’s the animation sequence:


Here’s the result:

The rendering of the Grow animation is improved in recent PowerPoint versions; you may not need this replacement step.

You can add a motion path so that the original location of the tool box is not obscured – this will make the context clearer. Here’s the process:

  • Set drawing guides to the target location for the “zoomed” tool box (the center of the slide in this example).
  • Add a Down motion path to the tool box and move the endpoint to the target location identified by the drawing guides. To move the endpoint, click on it and drag to the target location.
  • Order the animations so that the motion path occurs With the Grow.
  • Move the replacement tool box to the target location and add the Appear effect as before.

Here’s the setup:


The resulting animation looks like this:

You can relate the zoomed tool box to its location in the user interface more clearly by adding a “beam” that connects the tool box to its location, The beam is a semitransparent Freeform with a Wipe/From Top animation With the motion path. Here’s the setup:


Here’s what the animation looks like:

You can add a call-out to indicate the properties of the tool box:

An alternative approach is to zoom in on the screenshot and highlight the area of interest (the tool box).  I used techniques like this in the Prezi style PowerPoint post; it might help to refer to that post. Here’re the steps:

  • Copy the screenshot and enlarge it by 200%.  
  • Position the enlarged version so that the tool box is in the center of the screen.
  • Draw lines between the midpoints of opposite sides of the enlarged screenshot (the endpoints of the lines will be red when the line is located exactly at the midpoint). The intersection of these lines is the target for a motion path (see below)
  • Here’s the setup so far:


  • The slide boundary is highlighted in red to show that the tool box is at the center of the slide.  The “target” lines are yellow.
  • Now add the animation: apply Grow/200% to the screenshot With a Down motion path; the endpoint of the motion path is moved to the intersection of the yellow “target” lines which are then removed.  Then apply Disappear to the screen shot and Appear to the enlarged screen shot.  Here’s the set up:


  • To highlight the tool box, add a mask to “gray out” other parts of the screenshot. The mask was constructed by starting with a Frame shape, converting it to Freeform and editing the points. A semitransparent fill was added. Apply Enter/Fade to the mask at the end of the animation sequence. Here’s the setup with the mask:


  • Here’s what it looks like:
  • To get back to the original perspective on the screenshot, make a copy of the last slide and remove the animations.  Then Fade out the mask, Shrink the enlarged screenshot by 50% and add a motion path back to the center of the slide. Here’s what this looks like:

Obviously, there are other applications for this technique; block diagrams, floor plans, networks, scientific illustrations, assembly drawings, maps and even spreadsheets come to mind. In any situation where you want to show a complex slide and show the details in context without losing legibility, try zooming.

If you want a copy of a PowerPoint file demonstrating these techniques, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file:

PowerPointy blog – Making Screenshots work

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

Prezi is an alternative to PowerPoint and has achieved some impact as a presentation tool. For some applications, zooming around a “map” of concepts, categories or ideas is an engaging method of presentation.

My brief experience with Prezi was disappointing: Prezi has no drawing tools and no animation beyond pan/zoom and fade in (see here for other shortcomings.)  Prezi seems to be a one-trick pony (see this post for more on this view).

Of course, you can make bad presentations in Prezi just as easily as you can in PowerPoint.

Can you incorporate Prezi style pan and zoom transitions in PowerPoint? The answer is yes but it’s a little tricky. You can read this post and decide for yourself whether it’s worth the effort.

Here’s the basic idea. Prezi manipulates the point of view of the audience, moving a “camera” around a “canvas” (a diagram or map), focusing on particular elements. In PowerPoint, the Prezi effect can be approximated by manipulating the canvas – moving, rotating and zooming the canvas within the visible frame formed by the slide outline.

Here’s a PowerPoint sequence that demonstrates the technique:

The canvas, containing three objects, is displayed in Scene 1 followed by transitions to three additional scenes. Each scene positions the canvas in the frame (slide outline) so that the desired result is achieved. Here’s a diagram (the “frame”or slide outline is a red-outlined rectangle the same size as a slide):

You can see that in Scene 2, for example, the canvas is enlarged and shifted so that the blue circle is centered in the slide outline.

Once the scenes have been built, you can create the three transitions between scenes. (This is a technique I use a lot for animations: make the starting picture and the ending picture and then devise the transition between the two.)

Here’s how you can create the scenes:

  • Create Scene 1. For the canvas, I used a gray gradient filled rectangle the same size as the slide and grouped it with three objects: a blue circle, a smaller red circle and a tilted green square.

  • If you have rotated objects like the green square on your canvas, make a note of the amount of rotation (+15 degrees in this case).
  • The red outline identifies the slide boundary and delineates the part of the canvas that will appear in Slide Show mode. This will help when positioning the canvas for the subsequent scenes (keep the red rectangle in Front).
  • To create Scene 2, duplicate Scene 1. Keeping the red rectangle fixed, move the duplicated canvas so that the blue circle is centered in the red slide outline. Re-size the canvas object by 199% (more about this later). Use Format Shape/Size to resize the canvas; set Lock Aspect Ratio and change the Scale Width to the appropriate percentage. Make a note of the percentage.
  • The red rectangle now outlines the part of the canvas that will actually show on the screen in Slide Show mode:

  •  Now create the remaining scenes using the same methods. For the remaining scenes, the canvas is not enlarged. Scene 4 features a rotation to “square up” the square – 15 degrees (remember?).

Now that the scenes are completed, build the transitions between the scenes.

  • Build the transitions using separate slides. Using a separate slide for each transition isolates the transition animations and simplifies adding other animations to each scene, if needed.
  • Now build the transition between scenes 1 and 2. First, duplicate scene 1; this will be the basis for the transition 1 slide.
  • A Grow animation and a simultaneous motion path will be added to the canvas on the transition slide. The Grow is straightforward, the motion path is a little tricky; the end point location (target) needs to be established.
  • To establish the “target” for the motion path, Copy the contents of Scene 2 and Paste on the Transition 1 slide. Group the pasted items and set to No Fill and black outlines. This is what the transition 1 slide should look like:

  • Now, draw lines connecting the midpoints of each side of the rectangle. With some care, the endpoints of the lines will snap to the midpoints (a green endpoint indicates this has happened). Here’s what the slide looks like now:

  • The intersection of the two lines is the target endpoint for the animation.

This is similar to using Drawing Guides to help locate an endpoint; however, sometimes you need Guides outside of the slide boundary and PowerPoint doesn’t support that

  • Now add a Line motion path to the canvas. Position the end point of the motion path carefully at the intersection of the two crossed lines in the target. This may require zooming in to get the endpoint properly positioned. Here’s the result with the motion path:

  • Note that the start point of the motion path is automatically positioned at the center of the canvas.
  • Add the zoom (Grow/Shrink 199%) effect to the canvas With the motion path. Here’s what the animation looks like:

To change the size for the Grow/Shrink effect, click on the effect in the Animation Pane and select Effect Options.  Click on the down arrow on the Size field and change the value in the Custom box. For reasons known only to the PowerPoint creators, you must hit Return in the Custom box for the new size to “take.”

  • Test the animation: in Slide Show mode, click through Scene 1, the transition slide and Scene 2. If there is a noticeable jump between the transition slide and Scene 2, you probably need to refine the endpoint of the motion path.
  • You can adjust the animation parameters (timing, etc.) of the two effects to your liking. I unchecked the Smooth End box for the motion path; you may want to adjust the overall or relative timing of the two effects to your taste.
  • Repeat the process for the remaining scenes. the transition to scene 3 is just a pan (motion path) and the transition to scene 4 includes a Spin/Counterclockwise 15 degrees.
  • You can experiment with the timing of the animations and the “shape” of the motion path to get the effects you want.
  • Strictly speaking, the separate transition slides are not necessary.  However, I think they keep the work organized. Also, when a Grow (zoom in)  animation is used, the poor rendering of the result is immediately replaced by the scene slide.

For early versions of PowerPoint, the size of the enlarged canvas is important: motion paths fail for “large” objects. In particular, objects that are twice the size of the slide or larger are truncated when moved.

To clean up a transition slide. remove the target object (black outline above) and make the slide Transition automatic. Specifically, on the Transitions ribbon, set the Advance Slide/After 00:00:00 check box. This will run the animation steps in sequence (regardless of any Start on Click settings) and advance to the next slide immediately after the animations.

Is all this worth it? Hard to say, but at least you can add Prezi-like effects to your presentations and still use other PowerPoint features like additional animation on the slides.

Another project using these techniques is documented in “More Prezi.”

If you want a free Powerpoint “source” file that will help with the details of this project, use the link below, click on the icon and select download.

Powerpointy blog – prezi style

If you have problems, complaints or thank-yous, add a comment below. You might “like” the post or follow this blog, too.

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