By David KolendaAppleís presentation software can import and export PowerPoint files, so feel free to throw that PC software away!
Let me start off by giving this disclaimer: I donít use presentation software for business. My background is filmmaking and I see PowerPoint and Keynote as just another tool to manipulate media. Sometimes you need video, but sometimes a glorified slide-show will suffice.
The last big PowerPoint project that I did was for a local theatre production. It was just three screens with projected images. The biggest drawback with PowerPoint was the transitions between slides. I could use my iMac at home to create the presentation, but it would be played by on PCs. That meant I couldnít use QuickTime transitions, as theyíre not supported in MS Office for the PC.
If youíve ever used PowerPoint, you already know how limited its transitions are. Dissolves donít really dissolve, wipes are uninspiring and amateurish.
Enough with the PC software! Itís time for Keynote!
There is already a GRAMUG review of Keynote 1.0, so instead of rehashing the details of the layout Iíd like to talk about about some of the new features.
Keynote is packaged with a very nice selection of professional themes. New in 3.0 is the addition of HD themes, formatted at 1920 x 1080 pixels.
All of the themes are very easy to adapt to your own style. Drag and drop images or videos from the Finder or use the Media Browser. The one drawback with the Media Browser, in my opinion, is the lack of customization. It will only show your music, movies, and picture folders. If you want to use the Media Browser, your media must be in one of the folders for direct access.
What better way to spice up a boring presentation than a pretty, animated pie chart! Okay, itís not that exciting for most people, but it is a very simple process to create a variety of charts and graphs. Either by entering your data manually, or copying from a spreadsheet, once your data is in place, you can format it a variety of ways.
Flat or 3D. Animated as a whole, or by element. There are many opportunities to make even declining sales figures look impressive.
I love animations. Within each slide, every element can be animated with the built in styles. Flips, dissolves, rotations, and more. This is the place to let your creativity run wild. Each element that is animated can have its own timing, itís own transition; it can can start and stop automatically, or upon the click of the mouse. Very flexible, and lots of fun!
Now you can adjust your images without dropping them into iPhoto. Most of the time, if youíre putting images into a presentation, youíre not going to be too worried about adjusting the saturation or hue. If you are, youíre probably already using iPhoto of Photoshop to do this. But if you need to quickly adjust something on the fly, now you can do it.
Alright, I know that sometimes you need to drop in an arrow, or circle, I just canít get that excited about it. But theyíre here and they work.
One nice feature about shapes is the ability to use them as image masks. By adding an image and dropping a shape on it, you can use the mask feature to crop the image to the confines of that shape.
Currently, the table feature is the closest thing to a spreadsheet that Apple makes. Unlike tables in other software packages (MS Word, html markup packages), these serve as both traditional tables and spreadsheets. Enter data and it just sits there. Start your data with an equal sign (=) and the formula toolbar appears, allowing you to put create a spreadsheet. Would you want to use this to replace a traditional spreadsheet program? Nope. But as a tool in your presentation, it will suffice.
If you need to export your presentation, Apple gives a variety of formats to export to. To retain your transitions and animations, you can create a QuickTime, with or without interactive elements; save as a PowerPoint file; or save as a Flash file (there are some PCs out there that donít have QuickTime). For static exports, PDF documents can be just your slides, or slides with notes; images can be JPG, PNG, or TIF and can be imported directly into iPhoto; and html files can be created. Of course, if you need to save your presentation for posterity, you can export it directly into iDVD.
I donít know what any Mac owner would still use another presentation software package when Keynote is available (bundled as iWork, along with Pages, for $79). Itís simple interface makes it easy to use, and itís transitional effects make it elegant.
Posted: Friday, September 15th, 2006