Motion Path animation (PowerPoint)
The oral presentation surpasses the journal paper in many respects, but surely, one of the key differentiators has to be the use of animation to explain. Finally, a method can come alive on your screen whereas, on paper, it is mummified, embalmed in the sarcophagus of a diagram. Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote enable you to put objects in motion. Trace a linear or curved path and have the object follow that path at a speed, acceleration and deceleration set by you. Decide on an angle and have the object rotate to that angle, fix a size and have the object grow or shrink to that size, set a transparency level and have the object gain opacity or transparency. Combine all these actions together (yes, it takes the skills of a choreographer sometimes), and you can resuscitate the dead… diagram, that is:)
A word of warning: Animations take time to build. It is not unusual to spend an hour on a 30 second animation. But the results are beyond your wildest expectations. You, the presenter, will be a cut above the rest.
Use animations in the following circumstances:
Whenever you feel like using your hands and making gestures to explain something (this does not apply to Italians who feel like that all the time).
Whenever you want to describe the path followed by something in motion (an ion, electron, light, virus,…) through something else (a porous barrier, a membrane, a conductor, an optic fibre,…) over time, or over a number of sequential steps.
Whenever you want to guide the eyes of the audience to a succession of specific places on the screen without using the distracting laser pointer (yes, I don’t like red laser polka dots, and I’ll explain why in another blog entry).
Whenever you want to represent objects whose speed, acceleration, shape, action, colour, or transparency changes when time passes or when these objects interact with other objects.
Whenever else you deem necessary to explain something faster and more clearly, or more interestingly.
Do not use animations in the following circumstances:
You have not yet mastered PowerPoint Motion Path techniques, or Keynote’s actions.
When you have no good reason to use animation (gratuitous), but you just like it, and want to work for Disney or Pixar.