PowerPoint 2003: How to Animate a Slide Background

Thursday Dec 10th 2009 by Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley explains how to create a moving picture background that, when used sparingly, makes a more compelling PowerPoint slideshow.

Prepare the image
Prepare your image in your graphics software and size it to the same height as your slide and a bit longer.
(Click for larger image)

One of the interesting but not so obvious things that you can do with an image in PowerPoint is to animate it as a slide background. While it’s not a good idea to add a lot of animations to your presentation, a subtle moving image can give your presentation an interesting look.

Prepare the Image

To create the animation you need to select an image. Make the image the same height that your slide will be when viewed on the screen, but make it 25 to 30 percent wider than the slide. Save the image as a JPEG image at a medium quality — it is important you don't use a large image for the process or else it won't animate smoothly.

Create a rectangle
Create a rectangle the same height as the slide but about 25 to 30 percent longer.
(Click for larger image)

Add the Image to Your Slide

Once you have created the image, launch PowerPoint and, if desired, add a new slide for your animation using Insert > New Slide. The image will be placed in a rectangle so, from the Drawing Toolbar, select the Rectangle tool and drag a rectangle shape over the slide. The Rectangle's left side should be along the left-hand edge of the slide, and it should reach the top and bottom of the slide edges. The Rectangle shape should also extend beyond the right edge of the slide.

Add the image
Add your image to the rectangle shape.
(Click for larger image)

Right-click the rectangle and choose Format AutoShape > Colors and Lines tab and, from the Fill Color dropdown list, select Fill Effects and then the Picture tab. Click the Select Picture button, and select the image that you saved earlier. Select the Lock Picture ASspect Ratio option so the image will not be skewed out of proportion, and then click OK twice. The image will appear inside your rectangle.

Animate the Image

Choose Slideshow > Custom Animation and select the Rectangle on the slide. Select Add Effect > Entrance > Fade. Set the Start option to With Previous and the Speed to Slow. This fades the image in as the slide loads.

Custom effects
Add three custom animation effects to fade in, pan and zoom in on the image.
(Click for larger image)

With the Rectangle still selected, choose Add Effect > Motion Paths and select the Left option. Set Start to read After Previous, and play the animation to check how it looks. You may need to adjust the overall window Zoom downward so that you can see the animation as it plays.

Set the Speed to Slow. If any of the white slide appears on the right of the screen when the motion ends, shorten it by clicking-and-dragging the red pointed end of the arrow that appears on the slide to the right. Drag it to the left, if desired, to extend the movement of the image. Once the image moves correctly to the left, set its Speed to Slow.

Adjust placeholder
If you can’t see text on top of the image, adjust the placeholder transparency.
(Click for larger image)

You can create a final movement by zooming into the image a little bit. With the rectangle still selected, choose Add Effect > Emphasis > Grow/Shrink and set the size to Larger or set a Custom value to between 125 and 150 percent. Be sure that Start is set to After Previous and set the Speed to Slow. Click the Play button to check the result.

Finishing Touches

Because the rectangle is currently on top of the other elements on the slide, you need to rearrange the order of the objects before you can add text to your slide. Right-click the rectangle and choose Order > Send to Back to send the image behind the slide contents.

You can now add your text to the placeholders on the slide and format the text as desired. If you have trouble seeing the text over the underlying image, fill the placeholder with a partially transparent fill. Right-click the text placeholder, choose Format Placeholder > Colors and Lines tab and set the Fill to a color such as white. Drag the Transparency slider to around 30 percent so you can see the text as well as the image as it moves underneath the placeholder.

When you’re done, you can go ahead and finish the remainder of your slide show.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

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