A Keynote tutorial showing an advanced use of MagicMove to animate a still photo

Microsoft has finally acknowledged how poorly the vast majority of its Powerpoint users apply their technology. Too much text, and chintzy clip art.

In Office365 its Office team has introduced two “new” features called Designer and Morph.

Here is an official video from one of its engineering team, Christopher Maloney.

Apple Keynote users are likely to shrug their shoulders knowing that Keynote has had such design aspirations almost from its beginnings in 2003, and the Morph equivalent, MagicMove, was introduced by Phil Schiller at Macworld in January 2009. (Steve Jobs had stopped keynoting the year before, when he introduced the original MacbookAir).

Since then, many Keynote users have adopted MagicMove into their workflow, although many of us have always thought Apple could do so much more with it.

Perhaps it will now that Microsoft has caught the bug of more evolved animation, but if MagicMove does up the ante, it will likely be because the desire for iOS parity has been achieved with more powerful A-series processors and more RAM in Apple’s mobile devices.

The bleating that accompanied the shift from Keynote 5 to Keynote 6 a few years ago, when quite a few special elements of Keynote were omitted, has quietened. More features have been returned or added to Keynote, and at least there appears to be life in the iWork engineering team with more frequent updates in recent months.

I am a big user of MagicMove, because it saves time, mouse clicks and “build clutter”. When a single slide has so many builds, it’s hard to decipher what one has created. This is not helped by the Keynote team who have not updated the layering of elements in the way Microsoft achieved it years ago, as shown in the video I created below, in 2011!

The other problem with its build order is the inability to name groups after one has combined elements. All groups are simply labelled group, rather than an even minimally useful: Group 1, Group 2, etc. Perhaps that is still to come.

It seems clear to me though that Keynote users are some of the most creative people out there, taking what the engineering team offers, then re-purposing it in novel ways which perhaps surprise and delight the team. That was certainly the experience I enjoyed when I visited the team in Pittsburgh in 2009.

So I want to take you through another tutorial on using Keynote’s MagicMove to create some popular designer memes you’ll see in videos and current affairs television, where the graphic artists have employed very expensive pro software.

I get better with Keynote when I’m inspired by the pros and try to emulate what they do as much as possible in Keynote, and only when necessary step outside and use inexpensive third party software.

Here is an example of a meme I will attempt to emulate in Keynote. What you’ll see below is a pro-user’s After Effects tutorial using a parallax effect to create movement on a still photo. The effect is seen in the first minute or so and the rest of the video is the “How to” part:

Clearly, for some presentations you’ll need to leave Keynote to use either After Effects from Adobe, or Apple’s own Motion. Each has quite a steep learning curve if you’re used to the simplicity of Keynote. The resultant movie will then be imported into your presentation.

But Keynote still has some tricks up its sleeve. In the video tutorial below, I step you through how to bring movement to a static photo, like the After Effects illustration above.

It uses Keynote’s MagicMove, Draw with pen, and Mask with selection elements, and also utilises a third party software from MacPhun called Snapheal Pro. As always your comments are valued, especially if you have other workflows to share.


4 responses to “A Keynote tutorial showing an advanced use of MagicMove to animate a still photo

  1. Why not use the Alpha Function to develop the outline of the “Lady with the Balloons”?

    • The Alpha will work on that image, although it’s a lot of work too, getting it just right and not eliminating necessary parts. But, there comes a time when Alpha masking will not work satisfactorily (you want a section of an image) and you really want a more precise masking, without having to leave Keynote. In this tutorial I wanted to show more of what Keynote is capable of doing for beginners, and I think Mask with Selection is often overlooked or not understood. We have a rather deep program although at first glance it looks rather plain and simple.

      Thanks for suggesting an alternative workflow.

  2. Well, Les,

    First of all thanks for this post. I’m quite experienced with Keynote, but it had never occurred to me that you could draw any shape and use it to mask an image.

    I myself use Magic Move to make artefacts appear out of nothing (reducing transparency to 0% on the 1st slide and having them move across the slide), typically in less than half a second or even 0,05 seconds (this is what i learned from watching TV news items). Quite impressive technology.

    Interesting thereby is that my 2010 13″ MacBook Air perfectly handles even the fastest transitions, while my 2013 13″ MacBook Pro has problems keeping up with the speed (i use the 1680×1050 resolution, not the standard resolution).

    Regarding the layering of Powerpoint, to me it, once again, confirms that all they can think of, over there in Redmond, is meaningless eye candy. Unless the layers are clearly recognisable images, the 3D layering is not giving me any information that Keynote isn’t giving me with its layer information (although i’m with you that it can be improved with custom layer names and more).

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Looks like Apple has addressed the afore discussed layering requirements. I had a quick look and it looks like the right way to do it (i.e. no 3D).

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