Tag Archives: animations

PowerPoint Master Class with D.Wallace Peach

For those who don’t know, Diana Wallace Peach is an immensely talented writer in the scifi/fantasy genre, but today we’re not talking books. Today we’re talking book trailers, and the graphical wizardry that Diana achieves with PowerPoint.

I have to tell you that despite knowing how to use Power Point as a presentation tool in business, I never knew it could be used to create something like this:

Part of the upcoming trailer for D.Wallace Peach’s new novel ‘The Necromancer’s Daughter’.

I wish I could show you the whole trailer, but that won’t be available until Diana’s new book launches in mid August. In the meantime, I’m going to share with you what Diana told me when I asked her how on earth she achieved such amazing effects.

Take it away, Diana. 😀

Hi Andrea, my techie friend. Thanks so much for having me over and asking about trailers and how I make mine. I’ll try to give enough information to get someone started.

I’m pretty clueless when it comes to technology, so I rely on my old business days, and I make my trailers using PowerPoint. Yep, just old-fashioned PowerPoint.

I learned by trial and error and just playing around with the program. It’s fairly intuitive, or I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. I encourage lots of experimentation, and no one should stress – the undo button is our friend.

Finally, don’t try this if you’re facing a deadline. It’s not hard at all, but it is very time-consuming.

Now, to get started, here are ten basic steps:

  • Start with a blank slide, and “insert” a black rectangle that covers the whole thing.
  • Choose an image (or 2 or 3) that will work as your background and cover the black rectangle. Use copyright-free images, and stretch them to fit if necessary. Pixabay and Unsplash are great resources for free images. Or use your own! (Example 1)
Example 1
  • Insert the images that you’re going to blend into your final picture. I chose 4 of them for this tutorial, but for some of my slides, I might have many more. Before I can use them, I might need to remove the background. Note that when you double click on an image, a little box appears in your menu bar that says “Remove Background.” (Example 2)
Example 2
  • One at a time I remove the background from the images by marking areas to keep or remove. (Example 3)
Example 3
  • Then I’m going to layer the images, rotate them, resize them, and position them until I like how they look. (Example 4).
Example 4
  • To make them blend a little better, I right-click on each image and click on “Format Picture.” Here, there are loads of options from softening edges to adding a glow, shadow, or special effects. You can lighten, change contrast, or crop. You can also manipulate color. I softened the edges of these flowers a little, but for most of my composite slides for trailers, I do a lot of manipulation to make them blend into one scene. Just experiment until the slide looks right to you. (Example 5)
Example 5
  • Insert text and format it! (Example 6)
Example 6
  • Transition: Transition determines how your slides are going to transition from one to the next. Play with the “how” of the transition (fade or wipe, for example) and how many seconds you want it to take. Your whole slide will transition with all its images.
  • Animation: Animation is how to delay the appearance of some images once the transition is underway. Again, you get to play with the “how” and “how fast.” You can have images fade into view or fly in (for example). I will typically create all my slides and then add transitions and animations at the end. You can preview what you’ve done under “Review” and make a hundred adjustments (like I do) until you’re satisfied. (Example 7 – video)
  • Audio: You can add copyright-free music or add your own recording. For me, this means more fiddling with transitions and animations to make the slides line up with the music. Once you’re done you can export the entire trailer to an MP4 video. Easy Peasy! And Have Fun!

Easy Peasy she says! -grin- I don’t know about you, but I still think there’s a bit of magic in there somewhere. I also think that Diana is much more of a techie than she gives herself credit for, so…. I’m making her an Honorary Geek, complete with this lovely engraved award to put on her mantle piece:

If you want to know more about Diana’s work, in both words and graphics, pop into her blog at: https://mythsofthemirror.com/ where you’ll find a welcoming community of authors and readers. I know because I did. Or you can visit her Amazon Author page at: https://www.amazon.com/D-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1 to see all the fantastic novels she’s published.

As for me, I’m so revved up I can hardly wait to start playing around with PowerPoint again.

Have fun,
Meeks


My new addiction – the Jacquie Lawson Circus!

I make no apologies – I’m well and truly in holiday mode, and playing games is very much a part of the equation for me. I play Final Fantasy xiv, of course, and Spider Solitaire, but my latest craze is the Balloon Pop game that’s part of the Jacquie Lawson Circus.

Rather than trying to describe the Circus, feast your eyes on these screenshots:

balloon game circus

 

Like the Advent Calendar, you unlock the various parts of the Circus by ‘buying’ tickets. Unlike the calendar, however, you can unlock all the tickets in one hit if you wish. I’ve unlocked almost all of the tickets so there are little animations all over the place, including that clock in the mid-ground. It always displays my real world time. It’s a very nice touch which makes the scene look and feel strangely real. From memory, the Balloon Pop game is the third ticket in the sequence.

The aim of the Balloon Pop game is to pop as many balloons as possible, but the minimum is three. This is what it looks like at the start:

balloon game start

There are ten levels, and the game speeds up as you progress. You also get wildcard balloons – in the shape of diamonds and crowns – that make big bangs, and give your score a big boost.

I’m pleased to say that, unlike the game in the Advent Calendar, this one I can win! mwahahahaha… -cough-

balloon game winner

For my next post I’ll try for something a little more grownup, maybe. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Jacquie Lawson’s Edwardian Advent Calendar – 11/10

advent calendar siamese

When I was a kid, you could buy Advent Calendars that counted down each day of December until you reached Christmas. The delightful part, however, was that behind each ‘day’ on the calendar was a small chocolate. I can’t remember the taste of the chocolate, but I can remember the sense of anticipation that went with each one.

Can you still buy those Advent Calendars? No idea, but this year I have another reason to look forward to Christmas, and it’s far kinder to my waistline! A dear friend gave me a digital Advent Calendar, and I literally start each day looking to see what new delight will be revealed.

As I received the Edwardian Advent Calendar at the end of November, I was only allowed to visit the Pavillion, a cosy room that looks like this :

advent calendar pavillion

The two dogs, and the two small kittens on the chaise, are animated. Each time you do something in the Pavillion they run through a series of very cute little routines. So far I’ve only seen one routine repeated!

But the Pavillion provides more than just a seemingly never-ending series of animations. All the jigsaw and box puzzles can be played, as can this game :

advent calendar 5

And then, finally, December 1 arrives and you get to explore the Edwardian part of the calendar. For those unfamiliar with the Edwardian period in England, it was a time of gracious living [for the well-to-do] in beautiful mansions with a small army of servants to cook, clean and generally make life easy.

Each day, the Advent Calendar provides a sneak peak into this period via simple but very effective animations. Sometimes this sneak peak is interactive. For example, on Day 3 you get to do flower arranging. You are provided with six different ‘vases’ and masses of period flowers and greenery to arrange as you will.

advent calendar 3

advent calendarAll the controls are simple point and click affairs, very easy to do, yet the programming behind them is powerful. Every flower can be resized, flipped and rotated, allowing you to create some very unique ‘arrangements’.

Once you’re done you’re prompted to select the room of the mansion in which to display your creations.

The flower arrangement on the left is the first one I created, and as you can see, it is destined for the ‘hall’.

To my huge surprise, my creation actually became a part of the ‘scene’ :

advent calendar the Hall

Can you see it?

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun. Not only is the concept brilliant, the execution is superb. Everything from the animations to the interactive games and music are just perfect.

I know I’m sounding like an info-mercial but … if you want to send someone a digital gift for Christmas, this just has to be it!

cheers

Meeks


K.T. Flory – fledgling animator extraordinaire!

That little animation was one of The Daughter’s early ones, but as she has posted it on youtube I feel justified in sharing it with you. Can you tell that we have the same, slightly macabre sense of humour?

I think The Daughter is immensely talented, and of course, being a very proud Mama, I’m giving her new website a free plug!

If there are any game developers reading my blog – The Daughter is graduating in a week and job offers are gratefully accepted. 😉

cheers

Meeks


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