Spice up your slides

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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