episode 22: Our Favorite Animations


PowerPoint has lots of great features for adding motion to static content through animations and transitions. Overall PowerPoint presentations are known for animation, and knowing that animation is used by everyone from elementary age students to professional designers says a lot about the functional design of PowerPoint as an animation application. Troy, Nolan and Sandy talk about good use of animation, some favorite animation effects, and what they see for the future of PowerPoint’s animation capabilities.


How much animation does everyone use on an average presentation?

  • Nolan: For me, it’s usually very little. I actually used to do a lot of it, but these days I always ask the question, “will animation help tell the story or not?”. Sometimes it does, but if it is gratuitous I will pass on animation.
  • Sandy: I’m with Nolan. Unless I’m creating a self-running presentation where animation is needed to deliver the content at a pace to keep the viewer involved with the presentation, animation can be, as Nolan puts it — gratuitous.
  • Troy: It depends on the project. All the medical content slides have virtually no animation, but the corporate event and awards shows, where the goal is a great Hollywood premiere feel, have a lot of animation. Because the animation projects tend to be larger and more involved it feels like we are always in the animation pane, so overall, I believe I do a lot more animation than others may.


Let’s start with Morph.

  • Troy: Morph feels like cheating after all these years of doing painstaking work in the animation pane. But it is a great addition to PowerPoint!
  • Nolan: I completely agree. I think you’re going to see animation return to presentation a lot because of Morph. And, to go back to what I said about whether animation helps tell a story, I think it’s almost impossible to use Morph and not do it in a way that doesn’t tell a story.
  • Sandy: I love morph and feel it is a great addition to how we animate.


Zoom. is technically not an animation, but some of its behaviors make it appear as if it is an animation.

  • Nolan: So, my confession is that I have not really explored Zoom all that much, mostly because it’s not yet on the Mac. I think also because, unlike Morph where you can just use it once between slides, it does feel like it requires more of a commitment overall to use it and to have users really understand what’s going on. With Morph, a client doesn’t really need to know what’s going on to present it. But it is incredibly powerful and I’m looking forward to using it in the new year.
  • Sandy: I haven’t been using it much because of some backward compatibility concerns, but do a lot of Custom Show projects.
  • Troy: I see Zoom as a very good evolution of custom shows, and shows the direction Microsoft is going by integrating motion/animation into effects with little user input needed. Behind the scenes Zoom is a new Custom Slide show setup that uses the Morph transition. It has specialty niche uses, and I have leveraged it on several projects already.


What about 3D animation?

  • Sandy: I am excited about the upcoming possibilities. There is a great demo on YouTube by P- Spice that shows some great ideas for 3D content in presentations. If I understand correctly, PowerPoint will be supporting 3D file formats.
  • Troy: Yes, from what we learned at Microsoft a few months ago, Office is going to recognize a number of 3D file formats. I am very excited about this future addition to PowerPoint. I have worked with 3D elements and animated elements for several years and the ability to natively use them in PowerPoint is going to be huge.


What are your favorite animation effects?

  • Troy: Fade is the safest and most professional effect. Based on content, more dynamic options can be integrated. As example, I really like Basic Zoom – From Bottom for that dynamic entrance of key/bold content.
  • Nolan: Layering animations (e.g. Fade In + Zoom) is a great way to maximize the preset animation options. The Animation Painter is a fantastic tool, especially on complex animations.
  • Sandy: I Fade In/Out most often. I used to use Peek In a lot, but it was ruined in PowerPoint 2013. For combination animation I’ve combined Swivel and Spin when creating the effect of a snowflake falling.


How about transitions – are they an animation?

  • Nolan: Morph is a type of transition, but visually it is an animation. 95% of the time I just use quick fades for transitions, which add a subtle animated effect. Occasionally, we’ll do pushes to get a Prezi or Morph-like effect of moving around a big canvas. But again, only use a transition if it helps actively tell your story.…
  • Troy: In the old days of 35MM slide projector presentations, animation was the visual effect of transitioning from one frame to another. So transitions were the only animation. I have always looked at transitions as a part of the animation offering and think in terms of transition and on-slide animations working together for the visual effect.


Are there technical or system limitation or things to watch out for with animation, or bugs to watch out for?

  • Troy: If you are running PPT 2013 or earlier, there is a bug with long scrolling animations and them stuttering. It can be fixed with a Windows registry hack (see show notes for link to blog post with step-by-step tutorial). Thankfully it was fixed in PowerPoint 2016. There is also the super wide image limitation where only an image 1.5X wide as the slide will animate, the rest is just cut off – I consider this a bug. There are a few other PowerPoint coding bugs and limitations, but really the biggest issue is the computer capabilities. What I develop on a computer with 32GBs of ram and a video card with 8GBs dedicated memory may not playback smoothly on a small shared memory ultralite computer.
  • Nolan: Long scroll bug is something bad to encounter. Also, watch out for animation techniques that make it difficult to understand slide in normal mode or when printed.
  • Sandy: I wouldn’t call this a bug, just poor interface design. Let’s say you have an animation applied, say Fade, to an object and you want to apply the Grow/Shrink emphasis to it. What many of us may be in the habit of doing, is choosing Grow/Shrink from the Animation Group, which actually replaces your original Fade entrances. Instead, we need to remember to use the Add Animation option in the Advanced Animation group.


What would you like to see for animation in the future?

  • Troy: First is a large overhaul of the animation interface. Specific animation things would be animation across slide transitions, and this would extend to the ability to have videos play across transitions.
  • Nolan: Keynote used to have a transition I really liked which was a simple blur. Keynote removed it, and I would really like to see it added to PowerPoint.
  • Sandy: I also think there is an opportunity to update the interface.


What type of animation add-ins do you? 

  • Nolan: Years ago, I used the PPTXtreme set of tools which has a plug-in that comes with a number of pre-made layered animations and the the ability to create an animation library of layered effects.
  • Troy: I was a huge user of the PPTXtreme add-ins. It stopped working with PowerPoint for awhile, but there is a new version out. It is more costly than other add-ins, but they offer some amazing productivity features, and the best animation add-in tools. The ToolsToo add-in has an upcoming new version that I have been running a beta version of that has some pretty cool animation tools.
  • Sandy: Animation Painter is native to PowerPoint and one of the best add-in like tools to use.

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