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Giving PowerPoint Cinematic Motion with Morph

Previously, I’ve talked about PowerPoint Designer and how it’s a useful tool for design people. Now I’m going to talk about another new feature we’ve seen appear in PowerPoint recently, Morph.

PowerPoint Morph provides a new way to handle slide transitions in PowerPoint presentations, but it’s much more than that.

Every presentation has a different story to tell.

A lot of the time, we treat a PowerPoint deck as nothing more than a shopping list—a way to store and transmit some useful information. But PowerPoint is presentation software, and a presentation isn’t just information—it’s information presented as a narrative experience over time. In other words, each PowerPoint presentation tells a story. Morph helps us unlock the potential of PowerPoint by making it easier to tell stories.

 In other words, each PowerPoint presentation tells a story

That three-slide deck you put together for your project synch up may not be Star Wars, but it has a narrative: where are we? How did we get here? What are we going to do next?

Which brings us to Morph.

Morph is motion

Morph provides an intuitive way to add cinematic motion to your PowerPoint narrative. Now PowerPoint has already had animation and transition effects for a long time with literally hundreds of options for adding motion to your presentation. The problem is, the existing animation tools in PowerPoint aren’t that intuitive, and learning to use them well takes some time.

Morph lives in the “transition” menu of PowerPoint, but it’s actually quite a bit different from a traditional transition. Transitions are usually used to provide a visual change between two slides that may have completely different designs. Morph is more about moving the elements of a slide around to move the narrative forward. In this way, Morph straddles the line between animation and transition. This is something I’ll talk more about later.

Morph is designed to let you add motion to your slides quickly in a way that’s intuitive so you can focus on crafting an engaging narrative.

An example of a presentation using Morph for transitions

Morph is easy

Creating a Morph transition is relatively easy. Take a PowerPoint slide that includes the elements you want to transform and make a copy of it. Then move the elements around and make changes to the copied slide. You can think of these as the “before” and “after” points of your transition. Choose Morph from the Transitions tab on the ribbon, and Morph will automatically create a seamless animation between the two slides. Here’s a video that explains it in more detail.

Morph is accessed through the Transitions menu in PowerPoint.

Morph allows you to move shapes and other graphical elements around, change the size and aspect, and make them move in or out of the visual field. It even lets you do 3d transformations of objects and text.

Morph transitions are also easier to maintain than complex animations. If you’ve ever spent some time sifting through several items in the animation pane, trying to figure out why your slide doesn’t look right, Morph will be a relief. You can get a clear overview of what you’re working on just by looking at the slides in PowerPoint.

Note that there are still some jobs you’ll want to use traditional tools for. For example, Morph currently moves at a set speed and doesn’t allow you to vary or stagger the timing of motions.

Morph is transformative

So Morph’s a new tool in your toolbox that gives you a new, cleaner, more intuitive way to add motion to your PowerPoint decks. That’s great! But the real power of Morph is transformative.

Morph represents a further evolution in how we think about presentation software. Back in the day, slideshows were literally composed of physical slides—transparencies that were loaded into a slide carousel or displayed on an overhead projector. PowerPoint maintains the metaphor of the slide. But because it’s a digital platform, we don’t need to let that metaphor limit our creativity. Morph is about making transitions part of the natural flow of your presentation, giving it a feel that more similar to a video or app experience.

 Morph represents a new way of thinking about presentation software.

With Morph, you can go beyond PowerPoint slides and treat the presentation space as a visual field for motion similar to a video or immersive app. For an example, check out this presentation that uses Morph to evoke the experience of flying from planet to planet.

Morph allows you to transform 3D objects. Even though this feature is in its infancy, you can already do some amazing things. One trick is to start with an image in PowerPoint and then use the Picture Effects to apply 3D rotation effects to make it move. You can also use the Bevel menu under Picture Effects to do some very clever things. You can do the same with shapes and 3D text.

Here’s an example of a 3D globe animated using Morph (you’ll have to click on it to see it move). This was done by taking a picture of the Earth, adding a 3D effect, and then rotating it in PowerPoint.

Click to see Morph at work.

Again, this feature is new. You’ll probably have to experiment a bit to get the effect you want. Currently, you’re limited to the 3D effects that PowerPoint supports. True 3D objects are not supported, at least not yet.

The future

I’m excited about where PowerPoint is going. I’ve been an advocate for using PowerPoint as a tool for design and rapid layout and prototyping for a long time now. In particular, I’d like to see true support for 3D objects in PowerPoint. Imagine if I could transform the PowerPoint canvas in real time like a 3d object, or fold up a text box like a piece of origami, or download the file I use with my 3D printer and put the 3D object in a presentation. A company could then put a faithful rendering of their product in PowerPoint and let their customers and prospects interact with it. The possibilities abound.

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