create. share. enjoy. (Part 2)

create. share. enjoy. (Part 2)

Path animation let us create a slide in which the alien in his flying saucer moves along the curved path in red. (Also, check out the results of Keynote’s Instant Alpha feature: We knocked out a solid-blue background from behind the solar-system clip art.)

 

KEYNOTE '08 - YOU RUN THE SLIDESHOW

Presentations are ubiquitous, from the classroom to the boardroom. Like it or not, you may at some point in your life be judged on the quality of your slideshow presentations. So what will you use to persuade and inform: A PowerPoint preso that shouts, “Stodgy!” or a slick Keynote show that makes your audience sit up and take notice? With the latest update of Keynote, part of iWork ’08, you can truly dazzle any audience.

 

Even Cooler Visuals - and Audio Too. Keynote ’08 adds a few ultracool special-effects capabilities, one of which is A to B animations. This lets allows you to animate objects on slide-along motion paths (a feature that Microsoft’s PowerPoint 2004 can’t touch). These paths can be straight lines or Bézier curves, and you can control both the length of the movement and the way the object accelerates along the path. The result is object movement with a pleasing, organic feel. Besides moving objects, you can also control their opacity, rotation, and size.

 

The 10 new Smart Builds are a huge time-saver, letting you place multiple images on a single slide, then adding an animation effect for their display during the presentation. In the previous version of Keynote, you would have had to do a separate build for each image. When you create a Smart Build in Keynote ’08, an image placeholder and a photo window appear on your slide. You drag iPhoto images from the Media Browser into the photo window, loading them into the Smart Build. When you play the presentation, the images animate one by one onto the slide. Effects include thumbing through a stack of photos or having the images mounted on a rotating turntable.

 

Along with nine attractive new themes, Keynote ’08 brings fresh eye candy, including new animated text effects such as Comet and Sparkle, which burn text onto the screen, and new transitions such as Confetti, which explodes the slide into particles that then coalesce into the next slide.

 

Every version of Keynote has offered improved image editing, and the new feature in this area for ’08 is Instant Alpha. For images with a fairly uniform background, Instant Alpha lets you select the background color, and Keynote ’08 knocks out the background, leaving only the foreground image. This feature won’t replace Photoshop or another image editor for advanced image-masking needs, but for the average user, Instant Alpha is not only a time-saver, but it also means you don’t need to need to launch another app.

 

Also in the time-saving category, Keynote ’08 now shares the new Format Bar under the toolbar with Pages and Numbers, which makes changing text and image properties much faster than fumbling through multiple panes of the Inspector and the Fonts window.

 

We’ve been waiting for Apple to add a voiceover feature - and it has. This allows you to create slideshows that can be played on demand, without your presence. We wish the audio handling were a bit more flexible, however. If you flub a line in the middle of recording slide 8 of a 20-slide presentation, you can’t rerecord the voiceover for just that slide after you’re all done. You can start over from slide 8, but that’s a small consolation, especially if you’re pressed for time. And Keynote ‘08 doesn’t let you add background music to a subset of slides, nor can you automatically fade out a sound that’s playing when you advance to the next slide.

 

We also stumbled on an annoying hiccup. If you have more than 50 Keynote themes loaded, the Themes menu in the Keynote ’08 toolbar can’t display them all. Instead, only the last 50 themes appear, preventing you from switching to themes that would have appeared earlier in the list. This includes Apple’s themes (because Keynote puts them in the menu before third-party themes).

 

The Bottom Line. Keynote ’08 is an elegant, powerful tool for creating slideshows and multimedia presentations. Improved animations, transitions, and effects help you get your message across, and the app’s excellent text handling and beautifully designed themes make it easy to put on an eye-popping show. Keynote ’08 beat PowerPoint 2008 for the Mac (due out next year) to market - and we predict it’s going to give Microsoft’s ubiquitous presentation software a major run for its money.

 

COMPANY: Apple

CONTACT: www.apple.com

PRICE: $79 as part of iWork ’08

REQUIREMENTS: 500MHz or faster G4, G5, or Intel Mac; Mac OS 10.4.10 or later; 1GB free disk space; 512MB RAM; 32MB video RAM

Easy animation along a path. Smart Builds deliver flashy effects painlessly. Instant background removal saves tons of time.

Audio handling not as smooth as we’d like. Can’t display more than 50 themes.

 

 

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