Effects I showed the Keynote engineering team in the hope they would be incorporated into the next version: Can you work out how I used Keynote 5 to achieve them?

Stimulated by the interested shown in the solving of the Final Cut Pro X sneak peek keynote build effect, I’ve raced ahead and included two more Keynote files, this time of my own making.

In the first, I feature something I spend some time on in Presentation Magic workshops, especially for scientists and academics, and that is the use of data visualization or good old graphs and charts. (I cite Edward Tufte and Stephen Few’s work richly, as well as Florence Nightingale. Huh? You’ll have to attend to understand why!)

Keynote is very rich in ways to graphically illustrate data, and there are better ways than others to use such visuals to engage your audience and explain complex relationships even to naive audiences. Some would say a great graph is the best way to work with such audiences.

In the video below, I look at a very simple graph which is a Keynote default comparing two regions’ growth over a time period. What I’m interested in is the area between the lines, as you’ll see, below.

Keynote will let you fill in titles and axis labels at your leisure

You could draw each line separately, or you could show them both simultaneously, then highlight as I have in the video, below, the meaning of the area between the lines.

So here is the video of the effect I’d like you to think about. The wipe transition I used to fill the area between the brown and green lines is not a current feature of Keynote, so how was it done?

In the second brain tease, literally, I’m showing a glow callout, as I like to call it. Here is where I emulate as best I can in standard Keynote 5 a CGI effect from a professional documentary. I showed a similar effect to the Keynote engineering team a few years ago in the hope they could include such an effect yet with Apple simplicity of use in the next version of Keynote. Still waiting…

Can you deduce how it was done? Solutions in the next few days…

UPDATE: Lots of clever Keynote users out there skipping steps and coming up with solutions in the comments. Perhaps these challenges are too easy for some.

Still, at Macworld workshops, my experience is that many people are hungry to learn Keynote’s tricks of the trade, as well as incorporate third party apps to make up for its deficiencies. More of that to come. If you are a self-proclaimed Keynote guru, send along a challenging quicktime movie of your effect, and let’s see how the crowds source an answer. But only created in Keynote please.

23 responses to “Effects I showed the Keynote engineering team in the hope they would be incorporated into the next version: Can you work out how I used Keynote 5 to achieve them?

  1. For the chart: just draw a custom shape over the desired area, add color (in this case that crazy gradient), and build it in with a wipe. The clever bit of magician’s misdirection was to show yourself resizing and moving the chart around beforehand, implying that the fill effect must somehow be dynamically resizing along with the chart. But of course, when you hit play, you were showing a slide that was already sized and built with the custom shape carefully aligned. Crafty lad!

    • Good work. But you will be amazed how many Keynote users do not know how to draw a custom shape. It’s something I wanted the Keynote engineers to make much easier and less laborious.

  2. For the Glow: the easiest way would’ve been to take a couple of frames from the existing video — one with the glow, and one without — then make several copies of each, and fade quickly between them, either as layered builds on a single slide, or as a series of slides in succession.

    • Can you explain to the uninitiated (your fellow readers) how only the limbic system glowed back and forth, and how the initial glow was constructed?

  3. BTW, Les, why don’t you care for 3D charts?

  4. I must be missing some subtlety here, because I didn’t find it all difficult to reproduce what looks to my eyes the same as what you have (maybe because I’ve needed similar things myself in the past and know how to create them).

    What I did was the following:

    1. Create line graphs and make the background transparent.
    2. Use the pen tool to create a shape with straight lines that follow one graph as far as the point of intersection, then folow the other graph back to the y axis, and as much of the y axis as necessary to complete the shape.
    3. Use an appropriate gradient fill.
    4. Move the shape to the back (so as not to cover the graph lines).
    5. Add the ordinary Wipe build.

    This took less time to do (less than 5 minutes) than it has done to describe it, so maybe you want something more fancy.

    • Good, but see my reply to Adam re how many Keynote users don’t know about custom shapes. I rarely see them used either in Keynote or Powerpoint.

  5. Sorry I forgot there were two questions. My answer is to the first one. I didn’t think too much about the second one because I don’t think it’s the sort of effect I’d try to create. However, I think Adam’s solution (which I only saw after I’d posted my first reply) ought to work.

  6. I agree with you about 3D graphs. I have rarely seen one that conveys information more clearly than a carefully thought-out 2D graph would have done. But then, like you, I am a Tufte enthusiast.

    According to my iPhone it is 3.20 in the morning in Sydney: when do you sleep?

  7. On a static picture the glow could be generated by duplicating the picture, using Alpha channel to only select the red portion and then alter it with Adjust Image tool. Then it is a simple matter of building the slide with a dissolve between the glowing and non-glowing picture.

  8. Many Apple users hate the dock. Not Les, apparently.

    • Interesting story in Isaacson’s Jobs’ biography about the guy who developed the dock magnifying event when he showed it to Jobs.

  9. Regarding the glow, why not de-emphasize the rest of the picture instead of adding the extra effect? I do this with Photoshop (example below), but it can be done in Keynote by overlaying two copies of an image, masking the top copy to show only what you want to emphasize and deemphasizing the copy below (all the Photoshop effects described can be done with Keynote adjust image tools: blur, desaturation, and lower contrast and luminosity).



    • Yes, I think we all do this from time to time. But remember, I set myself an exercise in emulating a professional documentary and its CGI effects using $19 Keynote! I wanted the Apple engineers to see this in action so as to offer Keynote users various ways of easily doing effective call outs. Graying out, fuzzing, removing are all good alternatives, and the idea is to help those still stuck with standard Powerpoint to think differently about message delivery.

  10. If you have any pull with the keynote team, it would be great to use the built in graphs, but I can’t because I need error bars in all my line and column (bar) graphs. I also other, more sophisticated graph types that I don’t expect keynote to handle, but error bars should be a relatively straightforward addition.

    • Error bars can be included via the Inspector; go to the Chart section, click Series, and locate Advanced down the bottom. Highlight a data point on the graph, and Advanced will show a choice of Trendline or Error bars, then give more choices, such as positive or negative, and values as fixed or percentage and more.

      • Paul Flecknell

        Yes, but what I want to do is add a list of individual values directly in keynote – and the “custom” option remains greyed out, no matter what I try!

  11. The dock was one of the reasons why I delayed moving to OS X as long as I possibly could. What I hate most about it is that it is an obligation. Apple decided that some users might like it so everyone has to have it. However, I’ve got used it, and now I don’t even hide it.

    • What would be the alternative if you could make the dock disappear permanently? Use Spotlight or Alfred to call up apps? OR some variation on the Apple menu?

  12. Keynote is on its arse, but keep banging the drum….

    The rest of us have moved on:

    • Nice stack, but I couldn’t sustain it for a whole day’s workshop.
      Let’s get evidence based, shall we?

      1. Evidence keynote is on its arse? It hasn’t been upgraded for 3 years, yes. But it continues to grow in use judging by iPad sales and increased Mac sales. Long way to go to usurp PowerPoint.

      2. Your “don’t blame the car, blame the driver” analogy. Go find and read Nader’s “unsafe at any speed” and research the field of transport safety. Especially terms primary and secondary safety characteristics. Especially how Volvo and Mercedes apply this research.

      3. Review human factors in aviation safety research, and how instrument design and flight deck controls have contributed to airline mishaps. It’s still a lot about pilots but that’s not the complete story.

      4. Research the history of PowerPoint and ask why headers, subheaders and bullets became the default for 95% of presentations. There is less choice in following social norms than you might think.

      5. While I like some of the slidedecks assertions, it’s just that: assertions. Where’s the evidence? Otherwise, presenters don’t change.

Leave a Reply to Athel Cornish-Bowden Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s