More suggestions to the Apple Keynote team: EyeWonder’s Pagemorph and other attention-grabbing techniques

One of my RSS feeds I dutifuly check out each morning (and often when I have a moment throughout the day) is John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. Good, pithy Apple-oriented commentary, unafraid to speak his mind, and usually on the money with his opinions.

Today’s stories contain one about a newly released online advertising technique he bemoans, but one which offers up an exemplar of “one man’s poison is one man’s meat”.  Gruber draws attention to something called PageMorph (below):

PageMorph BMW advertisement

He quotes Gavin Malley from the Online Media Daily:

“And consumers thought a blinking banner ad was hard to avoid. Taking attention-seeking to a whole new level, rich media company EyeWonder on Wednesday debuted a new home page-takeover ad that appears to manipulate a surrounding Web page by shrinking, stretching, crumpling or otherwise animating a real-time screenshot of the page.”

Gruber himself adds: “The only way to beat this would be if they could figure out a way to get Flash to extend a finger from your display and poke you in the eye.”

So he’s not particularly enamoured of this form of advertising. I can understand this, as I’ve had my local Age newspaper have flash-based animation jump all over a story I’m reading online, and I have to wait for the thing to stop playing. I usually don’t and head off elsewhere.

But as I was reading more about the technology which you can too here, I got to thinking this would be a great Keynote transition.

There already exists a curtain animation from’s John Driedger, right:'s animated curtains

In fact, John has created multiple colours in SD and HD sizes for a very reasonable cost, and I have used them in a number of Macworld presentations.

These are used as builds (curtains open is one build, curtains close is a second).

Jumsoft has a very interesting zipper animation which achieves a similar effect, in the sense it is a Quicktime movie you can hide an element behind, play the movie and reveal the next element.

Here’s a screenshot of it half way through its “reveal”:

Jumsoft's zipper animation

Remember, these are movies which play on each slide, and not transitions between slides. All they do is get out of the way and reveal what’s behind curtain number 1 or whatever you name it.

The animation Gruber talks about is one that could easily become a great transition in Keynote given its CoreAnimation capacity.

Here’s a movie screenshot I took with one of the first websites to use this device for BMW. The effect occurs about 20 seconds in, and then I click on the “close” (schleissen) button and the curtains roll back, below:

One of the things I also mentioned to the Keynote development team on my trip to them in Pittsburgh in early June which I blogged about was call outs: drawing attention to elements on the screen, in an engaging and “current” method, as compared to old world wooden pointers and laser beams.

The EyeWonder advertisers have a number of online promotional ads, where they tout the effectiveness of their use of callouts to draw attention to products which then become “active” onscreen for endusers to click on and follow through. Let me show you, because I described this desired effect to the Keynote team. Take a look below, where a hair product is highlighted, and becomes clickable, as an overlay:

EyeWonder ad overlay call out

EyeWonder ad overlay call out

If you want to see the entire 2.4 minute promotional video and see this effect and others in action (together with the CIO offering his tales of success), click on the video below:

Concluding remarks:

What to some people is an intrusion, and a sign we’re all going to hell in a handbasket, is to others an opportunity to grow a product, in this case Keynote because I’m not sure Powerpoint has the video cojones to manage such transitions. And here we have two possibilities to offer up to the engineering team as a challenge, but where the outcomes would be very worthwhile.

15 responses to “More suggestions to the Apple Keynote team: EyeWonder’s Pagemorph and other attention-grabbing techniques

  1. Hi Les,

    Safari Preferences/ Security/ Enable plug-ins

    – just uncheck the box and it stops the Flash take-overs. Usually I load the page first, then navigate to Safari Preferences and disable plug-ins if needed.

    Personally I find Flash content annoying – the other day a site I visited had a Flash loader that loaded another Flash loader to load more Flash.

    Often the content loaded could be more easily displayed with straight html and css.

    I love that the iPhone has no Flash reader – it makes the internet 75% annoyance free.

  2. Hi, Les –
    Very exciting that you had the opportunity to meet directly with the Keynote team! I wish they’d take the opportunity to meet with more of us — they’d learn a lot. But if you’re to be our sole representative, we’ll have to load you up with our requests…

    Here are a few of my biggies.

    1. Like you, I think timeline control is a top priority. With it, KN can go far beyond simple presentations, to become a full multimedia tool for kiosks, theater productions, broadcast use, etc. It’d be great if it can work in SMPTE time code, and even sync presentations to a SMPTE signal.

    2. More sophisticated audio control is a must. (Goes hand-in-hand with the timeline request.)

    3. A “Layers” palette, ala Photoshop, that helps keep track of multiple items stacked on a slide. Often when building complex animations, there are many objects stacked on top of each other and it’s impossible to select them easily.

    4. This last one is easy: give us more basic (less flashy) object builds. How about “blur,” “ripple” and “page turns” build that brings an object on or off using the same effects as their slide transition counterparts? I tend to use the simple, clean builds like Scale and Pop more than the glitzy ones like fire, flashbulbs, lens flare, etc., and would love more basic builds like these.

    If I think of any others, I’ll post again… Good luck!

  3. Oh, wait – I just thought of a BIG one.

    Keynote urgently needs to incorporate the “Ken Burns” pan & zoom effect that already exists in basic form in iPhoto and iMovie, and even the OS X screen saver. It’s silly that KN can’t do something this basic, which so many other Apple apps can handle easily.

    The best UI implementation of pan-zoom I’ve seen is currently in Boinx FotoMagico. Apple should just buy FotoMagico and incorporate its tidy interface into Keynote.

  4. People are always on about ‘Ken Burns effect’ which is so basic it originates from optical printing days of film editing. It’s scale and move actions at same time. Magic Move allows you to do it by setting start and end positions which is usually more convenient. Admittedly MM and scaling don’t always play ball which is _not_ convenient.

  5. Here’s what should be an easy one: add to Keynote’s “media | video” choices the ability to select the built-in iSight, or an external firewire- or USB-connected LIVE video source.

    That gives you, among other goodies:
    * a free “document camera”, both for static documents, and to write on a paper like we used to do on a blank slide in the overhead projector days

    * the ability to give live demos of small things (for instance, showing an iPhone app) [thus sorely tempting the wrathful live demo gods]

    * a “poor-man’s I-Mag”: show the presenter (magnified for those in the back) on the screen rather than just blanking it between slides.

    Best of all, this should be trivial to implement under OS X: probably less than 50 lines of code to implement the capability itself (‘though of course a sparkling UI and help files will take a bit more work.)

  6. Friendly Stranger

    to Lachlan, et. al

    Check out a Safari plugin ClicktoFlash!

  7. Athel Cornish-Bowden

    No doubt I’m missing something important, but how is the Ken Burns effect different from what one can easily get in Keynote already by defining simultaneous scale and move actions for the same element? If I set the duration the same for both actions and reasonably long (at least five seconds) I get a result that looks pretty much the same as what the Mac OS screen saver does.

  8. Alastair and Athel:
    Yes, you can certainly simulate the Ken Burns effect using Scale and Move actions. But it’s not intuitive, it’s not fun, and it sure isn’t quick. Apps like Photo to Movie and Fotomagico (and even iMovie 09) have nice, drag-and-drop interfaces that make it easy to see the start and end points.

    In fact, I’d argue that Keynote’s Move/Scale/Rotate actions are nearly unusable in their present form. It’s maddeningly difficult to see the “before” and “after” effects of even a single move effect. Try setting multiple items in motion, or making multiple moves on a single object, and you quickly wind up with a bewildering forest of ghost images, red lines and white diamonds – not intuitive at all. I’d love to see the iWork team revamp the animation controls to be much simpler, more drag and drop.

    Finally, Fotomagico’s strenghts include much more than Ken Burns. It also makes the whole slideshow creation process easy via its simple, iMovie-like timeline. It’s the best interface I’ve seen for adjusting timing, effects, transitions, etc.

    I know, Keynote isn’t designed for showing musical slide shows… but why isn’t it? Why can’t it incorporate at least the basic functions of the iPhoto slide show feature? Many’s the time I wished I could create a nice, musical opening to a Keynote presentation; but at present, I’m better off using two apps to do that, which is awkward at best.

  9. @Adam
    I think “unusable” is a bit heavy on the criticism, you should have used Builds in KN’08 it was worse! They improved subtly so at least the markers don’t get blocked by each other now. The lack of user-friendly view scaling and pasteboard (North and West quads) is more an an issue for me but I rarely move more than 3 groups of objects at one time (30 or so objects though).

    I should look at the other apps you mentioned. Certainly all the Adobe apps that even touch time-based animation use timelines for obvious reasons. I find AEffects pretty good for serious effects composition but Keynote is a fast tool when it can do the job.

    Nodal (processing patches joined node to node with noodles) based effects editing is where the big boys play these days. Not easy for the novice to get into so not expecting that in Keynote’10-’15.

    As for visual effects there aren’t any I hear requested that I couldn’t program in Quartz Composer and distribute for use inside Keynote. I would love to develop them the way developers do for FCP, AEffects, Motion etc as plugins. I’m reluctant to sell to public because it is at present very difficult to protect the IP involved without a major major x-Code programming effort to lock them up. If Apple developed some kind of Quartz Composition Encryption and some bindings to Keynote data (mouse events, slide number etc) we’d be in business and you’d see a whole bunch of indie 3rd party developers hit the ground running because the visual effects software is already done just needs a Keynote template and some kind of IP security.

    I’ve written Apple QC team about this but obviously they’re not about to tell me their plans and there always so much to do already in software development. The more requests, more hope (hint hint).

  10. PS.
    Unpaid for Advertisement (let me know if this is uncool Les a feel free to remove post!):
    If anyone would like a custom effect done, email me alastair [at]

  11. Athel Cornish-Bowden


    I agree with all the difficulties you mention (and in fact I haven’t so far wanted the Ken Burns effect myself), but I usually manage to accomplish what I set out to accomplish, even if it’s a lot more work than it ought to be. What would be really nice would be a sort of Automator approach — move stuff around, change sizes, rotate it, and then say “do all this automatically in one step”. However, I can imagine that would be a nightmare to program.

  12. @Athel

    “However, I can imagine that would be a nightmare to program”

    Automator requires an applescript implementation job on Keynote. There is very very basic Applescript support so you can automate any command that can be assigned a Shortcut Key for instance. There is no document model (DOM) in Keynote’s present Applescript support though which makes automator modules unlikely in my mind (I have no experience in programming them though).

    Adding full Applescript to KN’10 is no more of a nightmare than it is for any other application though and Apple do it for most of their apps. I think they don’t see the likely user demand as justifying the effort (guessing). Adding Applescript and/or some kind of run-time control logic (like PPT apparently has) would make Keynote a truly non-linear presentation environment btw and that’s gotta be interesting to people no? Les’s slide-of-slides-library could be generated on the spot (onscreen) from the selection of a tag value or a date range or anything else you can think of with a sprinkling of runtime Applescript and/or control logic .

  13. Re reproducing complicated animations/builds: remember, Keynote allows you to copy animation sequences for an object and paste them onto another object, even on another slide. This can be very useful for multiple builds. And if you copy an object which has multiple builds, your new copy will also retain those animations. Probably an under-utilised KN aspect.

  14. @ Alastair

    I initially read your post rather carelessly and thought you were saying that Applescript support was better than I thought. However, I see that you’re saying the opposite, i.e. confirming what I thought all along.

    I’ve been searching the web today to see if I could any scripts for Keynote that do useful things, but I found nothing. The only script I’ve managed to produce myself is a stay-open application that tells Keynote to save the front window every 15 minutes if Keynote is the front application. This works fine (apart from occasionally failing to quit when restarting the computer) but so far as Keynote is concerned it’s about as basic as one can get. The “Record” function in Applescript seems to do nothing whatever with Keynote (other than causing Keynote to run excruciatingly slowly) — not even tell application Keynote // end tell.

  15. There are a few scripts out there. I checked one which was rather involved. It took text from a .txt pasted it into Adobe Illustrator, applied various graphic styles to the text elements thhen pasted these into a keynote document on several slides from what I recall. Author is Japanese so supporting documentation was impenetrable for me! Applescript was readable though. I try and dig it out. You can invoke any Menu command (in KN or any other app) from an applescript by sending a keyboard keystroke to Keynote activating the shortcut (which you may have to assign yourself in System Preferences…). That’s about the most power you get. No DOM to interact with. As you will have seen the dictionary of direct commands is super limited to playback & save type controls.

    Apple has a email-list for applescript developers but I’ve never had any encouragement from it’s users re KN’09 so I moved on 🙂

    Let us know how you go.

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