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Bringing it all together

From Move actions to smart builds, Keynote ’08 provides more tools than ever for creating killer animations. But how do you assemble those animations into a single cohesive presentation?

I’ve created a sample animation that combines three new features: action builds, smart builds, and picture frames. (See a movie.) The animation recaps a recent cruise around New Zealand. An action build makes an animated cruise ship move from port to port. At every stop, one or more photos pop up (thanks to a smart build), and titles fade on and off the screen (thanks to build ins and build outs). Here’s how it all came together.

Prepping the Map First I gathered an outline map of New Zealand and an icon of a cruise ship (I purchased images from iStockPhoto.com). I used Adobe Photoshop to clean up the edges and fill in the map with a color that matched my presentation. When I was finished, I dragged the images onto a Keynote slide.

Adding Smart Builds: When you add a smart build to your presentation, a floating window appears. Drag photos to this window. Here, I added a picture-frame effect to give images a torn look.
With the new Instant Alpha feature (Format: Instant Alpha), I eliminated the background from each picture; then I applied a drop shadow to the map (using the Graphic Inspector). I inserted a dot to represent each port by creating a small circle and dragging the corners to adjust its size (Insert: Shape: Oval). I duplicated the circle six times (Command-D) and then moved the dots into place on the map. I selected the dots and the map, grouped them (Arrange: Group), and locked their location so they couldn’t be moved accidentally (Arrange: Lock).

Heading for Port To build the animation, I started with the first port:

1. I created a text box with the name of the city (Insert: Text Box), and inserted a line pointing to the city’s location on the map (Insert: Shape: Line). I made sure the two items were grouped so they animated together.

2. Using the Build Inspector, I applied a build-in wipe effect to put the port’s name and its associated line on the map.

3. I created a smart build and populated it with photos from that locale (see “Adding Smart Builds”). I chose a build-in effect so that the first photo would pop onto the slide, then applied a picture frame to enhance the look. To do that, I clicked on the smart build (on the slide itself), opened the Graphic Inspector, and selected Picture Frame from the Stroke pop-up menu.

4. I showed each image in the smart build by tweaking my animation’s effect, direction, and duration settings in the Build Inspector’s Action pane. I created an exit for my smart build by using a build-out dissolve effect. I did the same with the port name and the line.

5. I created a Move action to shift the cruise-ship icon to the next port (the ship was sitting behind the map, so I selected Arrange: Bring To Front), and I adjusted the animation’s path so that the ship moved along a pleasing curve to its next destination.

Cruising Along Instead of going through the tedious process of re-creating this sequence for each port, I used a shortcut to finish my animation. After I created the first sequence, I duplicated that slide to create the remaining ports, tweaking each duplicate slide with new information. I added transitions between slides (using the Slide Inspector’s Transition pane) to create a seamless animation.

[Longtime Macworld contributor Tom Negrino has written ten books about Keynote and PowerPoint. He keeps bullet points to a minimum in his presentations.]

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