While Wall Street went “meh” over the Let’s Rock keynote, Steve Jobs stealthily showed us the next version of his presentation software, Keynote

Whilst Wall Street sighed with feigned non-interest at the outcome of Apple’s “Let’s Rock” presentation on Tuesday, and others wondered if Apple had lost its sparkle with no surprises – the rumour sites put paid to that – another group of Apple observers were watching keenly.

This is a group that has come to learn that there is one Apple product that Steve Jobs does not keep wrapped up tightly and hidden under a bushell, lest the rumour sites steal his thunder. Indeed, I think what I’m talking about is the only product that Apple regularly lets the public see ahead of its release, with nary a mention. Those who have visited my blogs from time to time know of which product I speak: Keynote, Apple’s presentation software first released at Macworld 2003.

Nowadays, during each of Steve Jobs presentations, Keynote observers watch for tell-tale signs that an update is imminent. We saw a little hint at this year’s Macworld keynote, when the Macbook Air was released: a few new transitions.

But at Tuesday’s “Let’s Rock” iPodfest, we got the message loud and clear that a significant Keynote update, perhaps a version update, not just a point-update (ie Version 5 rather than version 4.0.4) was on its way.


Since my teachings with Keynote so emphasise the visual (“the visual system is to broadband what the audio system is to dial-up”), how better to demonstrate the likely forthcoming update by sharing with you screenshots of Let’s Rock presentation, in the order I spotted them. Perhaps there are others I missed, so please let me know: les-at-lesposen.com

Let’s Start:

The first hint comes very early in the keynote, just a few minutes in:

This is actually the placing of the word “Music” onto the screen, in a starburst kind of way, much like the old Screen Gems logo used in TV shows of long ago. Let’s see what happens a moment later:

Now we can see the word “Music” appearing. The effect is hardly subtle, but one that really draws your attention. Let’s see what happens next:

The starburst finshes its “orbit” and the full word is revealed. This is a full-on animation which these screenshots can barely illustrate in an adequate fashion. But even so, I see them as evidence of new effects. Together with what else we see as the keynote progress, it can be taken as evidence of continued improvement in the Keynote app.

Nextnew image manipulation abilities or just an imported Photoshopped image?

Take a look at what comes next in the Jobs’ slideshow: an image of iTunes 7, below:

I want you to notice an effect I use frequently in my own Keynotes, especially when I’m showing book covers, newspaper articles, or journal papers. This is a skewed image where the left edge angles down to a shorter right edge, as if the image was rotated slightly. This has the effect of drawing the eye along the image from left to right, and in my own slides there is a large amount of black (or white space) where your eye moves to and you just “know” something will appear there. This is me taking control of the message delivery by directing your gaze where I want it to go – let’s call this “direction” as compared to the magician’s “misdirection” where he sets you up for a “gosh, how did he do that?” moment.

Currently, to do this effect in Keynote means using another software, such as Photoshop or GraphicConverter. Indeed, even Powerpoint for Mac 2008 has rudimentary image manipulation tools which I have used to distort and image then import it into Keynote. My guess is, judging by this image, Keynote is about to match Powerpoint’s ability, if not leapfrog past it. Look further at the image above, and note how the reflection leaves no gap at the bottom, which is what would happen if you just dropped in a Photoshopped image. This gives further support to the notion that Keynote has received upgraded photo tools.

Next: New text animations

Keynote has far fewer animation effects than Powerpoint, but what it does have screams at you that you are seeing a Keynote rather than more of the same Powerpoint. In the next series of slides we see a new text animation effect. We start with a number displayed, “8,500,000” and underneath it, “songs” in smaller print.

In actual fact, the animation has just begun, if you notice how the “5” and the third “0” are a tad brighter than the other digits.

In the next slide, a moment later, we see this:

There is the same “5” and “0” and the comma, but also notice that in the word “songs” some letters have gove missing. Transpositions are taking place, as we see in the next slide:

In fact, we now see a new text image: 125,000 Podcasts. But notice how the “5” and the “0” in 125,000, and the “o” and “s” in Podcasts are brighter, having remained from the previous text (8,500,000 songs). What an interesting transition, and I’m going to be curious to see when to use it in my own slide creations when I get my hands on this version of Keynote. And what the development team have called this effect!

Moving along… a “flip and hang” transition

In the next new transition, we start at the point where Steve is discussing the pricing of Standard Definition (SD) television shows (priced at $1.99) and how iTunes 8 will also now support High Definition (HD) at $2.99.

Here’s how we move from one price point to the other. We start with SD:

Notice in the next image a moment later how the price starts to flip upwards:

… and in the next slide, as it flips right over, it and the letters “SD” are being replaced by the $2.99, and the HD letters:

But in the next slide, below, we see the fun element. The “HD” has now appeared but the price $2.99 is still flipping around on a different time basis. Again, another transition that captures the gaze.

And in the next slide both HD and $2.99 rock on their horizontal axes – quite an unusual yet strangely familiar effect.

Next: Follow the bouncing hoola-hoop

One of the things I teach in my Presentation Magic classes is how to draw the eye to specific locations on the slide. There are any number of reasons for doing this, and any number of ways. Most presenters are utterly lazy and use those awful laser pointers to circle or point to something on the slide. Most times, it looks as if they have early onset Parkinson’s Disease because it’s very difficult to hold the pointer steady, and drawing circles around specific areas is usually of little help.

My preferred solution is to know ahead of time, when you prepare your slides, just what on the slide you want your audience to look for. You can state it: “Now, of you notice this column in the spreadsheet” or “Let’s take a closer look at this aeroplane’s engine exhaust”. Or, you can either circle these areas with a shape outline, or grey out the areas around the target location, leaving the target the only object in full colour or you can cut out the target, enlarge it, and bring it forward over a fuzzy background image. These are but two ways of drawing the audience’s eye where you want it to go.

In the slide sequence below, we see that Keynote’s developers have attended to this and we get a new way, probably one of several, to highlight a specific area of a slide. We start with the iTunes interface once more:

In the next moment, at the bottom left corner, we see a purple circle emerge – it actually bounces onto the slide from the left:

… and like a demented and distorting hula hoop keeps bouncing over to the right:

…bouncing and rolling…

… almost there…

… until fully formed as a circle, it highlights the new “Genius” icon in iTunes 8:

I’m guessing this is just one of a few new ways Keynote will allow you to highlight various aspects of a slide, and I am guessing its developers have been looking closely at how some of us have been using Keynote’s abilities and both making it easier for us (less clicks) as well adding features from their own imaginations.

Such as this graph below, which shows the “rock solid” growth of iPod sales. So why not use a slab of rock to drive home the point?

Jobs reaches the end of the new Nano announcements with a replication of the “screen gems” effect but its orientation is vertical, whereas at the beginning of the keynote it was horizontal. Let’s see. We start with the new Nano:

And with the curviness of the new screen, it’s a no brainer to “highlight” it:

… drawing attention to its new appearance, now added to by movement of the “screen gems”:

… which really gets the eye’s attention:

Were there other new effects I missed?

Well, I kind of got the feeling that one of my wishes for Keynote came true: A Ken Burns’ effect where one could enlarge and pan across the slide, dropping down onto a section to highlight. But perhaps I was only seeing things, and it was the camera videoing the keynote that was performing this effect.

Yet perhaps….

In any case, out of all this rather obsessional Keynote watching, comes the renewed belief that we are in for a Keynote upgrade, hopefully way before Macworld, so I can incorporate its new effects in my two-day workshop, shortly to be announced by IDG/Macworld.

I’ll write more about this in the next few weeks as the Conference starts to shape up, and perhaps the Keynote community can share with me some of their desires for Keynote. I have a strong suspicion the Keynote team at Apple will be listening closely to our ideas for how to further improve Keynote, and help it to help us elicit more creativity and less boredom in our audiences.

34 responses to “While Wall Street went “meh” over the Let’s Rock keynote, Steve Jobs stealthily showed us the next version of his presentation software, Keynote

  1. Les, you can currently simulate a Ken Burns effect by combining the scale effect with a motion path.

  2. Les,
    So when is your book “How to Make a Steve Jobs Keynote Presentation” coming out? 🙂 I’ll be the first in-line.

  3. That’s cool, thanks. I noticed it, but rather subliminally, didn’t realize these were not already in Keynote.

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  5. i like this blog, it has jumped to top 100 blog now

  6. Re Ken Burns effect @ Victor: You know, I looked at the keynote and thought yes, the motion/scale would do it, but somehow it looked more like a panning effect. Perhaps it was an optical illusion, but to do it you have two ways. Group on a duplicated slide all the elements so they all move and scale together, to give the appearance of panning; or, take a screen shot of the entire slide and move the resultant png file around. Haven’t tried it but must do so to see if the theory translates to practise.

  7. @ Brian: ta for the compliment! It’s possible that the two day Powertools I’ll be doing at Macworld 09 will convert into a book/DVD. What do you think of the idea?

  8. Did anyone notice that the previous version of the iPod Touch seemed to morph into the new version? Was it a proper morph or just a dissolve? Morphing would be a cool new feature.

  9. What do you mean by this? “Look further at the image above, and note how the reflection leaves no gap at the bottom, which is what would happen if you just dropped in a Photoshopped image.” Are you talking about a wedge-shaped gap where the shape was changed? I just tried it and don’t get that gap.

  10. The “bouncy circle” is actually a circle with “None” fill using the bouncy build-in. You can do that one now! 🙂

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  12. I’m interested in being able to enlarge or modify a cursor that appears on both the monitor and the presentation screen while in presentation mode. And it would be nice if one could define animation paths so you could make simple animations of things like biological processes. That is still a Windows-only capability as far as I know.

  13. The bouncing hoop isn’t new.. it’s just a circle with the bounce effect added. And one that you missed is the 3D entrance of the “rock solid” graph.

  14. Great post. I, like Brian, noticed all of this subliminally. I actually wondered how they did the effect with the constant characters and I thought about that graph using the rock look. I’d love to see a new Keynote soon.

  15. @Adam and Ken: You’re right, I tried it and it works. I suppose I never thought to highlight a section of a slide this way, preferring more subtle and less playful means. But yes, the bounce transition will do the trick.

    @ Garrick: Perhaps it’s the way I’ve used Photoshop (I’m no guru there) but when I have I do get a wedge between image and its reflection. Could you forward the steps you took and a screenshot? les-at-lesposen.com

  16. “And one that you missed is the 3D entrance of the “rock solid” graph.”

    That entrance isn’t shown in the stream. I guess that’s one us ‘not there’ one’s won’t see for awhile.

    Ohh, the 3D chart build in at about 49:51. That does look new.

  17. @Les
    The perspective reflection effect can be created with Picturesque and leaves no gap.


    And, there’s info about doing it with Quartz Composer here.


  18. Pingback: Jobs Shows Off new Keynote Transitions | TightWind

  19. Pingback: MrGadgetFreak » Steve’s coole neue Keynote Transitions

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  21. Der Effekt mit dem lila kreis ist nicht neu, dass heißt Feder und ist ein Effekt zum Aufbau von Elementen. Das gibts auch schon unter Keynote ´08

  22. Pingback: Próximas novedades de Keynote, desveladas en el evento "Let's rock"

  23. Pingback: KeynoteUser.com » Blog Archive » Les looks at Let’s Rock

  24. If you want to see the future of Keynote, then you just have to look at the present – Motion. The incremental enhancements to Keynote have always been present in Motion first, and then transported over to Keynote later.

  25. I’m not sure whether the “HD” is really on a different time basis than the “$2.99” – “HD” mirrored upside down looks a lot like “HD”.

  26. This will probably be announced at the Mac event in October 14th.

    Last year we had an event like that, with Macs, .Mac update an iWork ’08.

    So maybe there will be iWork ’09 this year.

  27. I have tried to recreate some of these effects in Keynote. The transposition text transition is entirely possible in the current version, albeit time-consuming, as is the jumping hula-hoop. As for the other effects, I’m sure they will become available in a new version sometime in the not too distant future.

  28. I think someone nailed it earlier. As much as Keynote aims at being a PowerPoint replacement, it’s got potential as a motion graphics / 2D animation tool. (Motion Express, anyone?)

  29. @ajkandy: I think you’re right. There is an interesting interplay between importing movies with iMovie effects into Keynote, and Keynote animations and transitions into iMovie. One of the blog entries I’m preparing discusses the notions of including iMovie/Garageband timelines into KN (Powerpoint does it, confusingly) to offer more exact timings of effects rather than the rather hit and miss actions in the current version. With that in place a Motion Express-type app is even more possible. What do you think?

  30. Hi Les,

    I’ve been looking frequently at your other site, and that not being updated got me worried about you. Glad you’re “back”.

    I like the idea of a book from your hand very much (you may e-mail me once it is out). Do make sure that colour pictures are large enough (publish it as a pdf and cost for colour pictures is no longer a problem) and spend most of the time on how to use Keynote to present such that the crowd is wooed, instead of writing a Keynote manual.


  31. Thanks for that great post, Les. Perhaps the most detailed and informative I’ve read in a long time.

    @ Blad_Rnr: I’ll be second in line 🙂

  32. Pingback: Around the Internet: January 2nd « The Green Room

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