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In PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training, author David Diskin demonstrates how to engage an audience with images, video, sound, charts, and diagrams in professional presentations. The course also covers a variety of methods to share presentations with others, and provides comprehensive tutorials on how to design presentations that successfully deliver a quality message. Exercise files accompany the course.
Picture backgrounds have always been a giant speed bump in any PowerPoint user's path. In slide number 8, I want to illustrate our philanthropy by throwing some money at the audience, or at least having it up onscreen. I'm going to insert a picture the normal way, through the Insert tab, click on Picture, and from my Assets files, this time I'm going to add the file called Money Fan. If I shrink this photo down and move it around even to an area that's not occupied by text, it still looks a little bit unusual because of the background of the photo.
Our slide is an off-white color, and so is the photo, but they're different off-whites, not to mention the shadow. Now, I can add a Picture Style to this photo. But that still isn't going to help, even one with a frame. It works, but it's not the effect I'm looking for; instead, we're going to remove the background. That way, the picture that I want, that is the hands and the money, will show through using my background and not the original one in the photograph. In prior versions of PowerPoint, I'd be stuck here.
I'd have to use a tool like Photoshop to remove the background. And that would take quite some time. But with PowerPoint 2010, the Background Removal tool is built-in. Let's give it a whirl. I'm going to select the photo, and from the Picture Tools Format, all the way on the left, choose Remove Background. Immediately, PowerPoint tries to decide what areas I want to keep and what areas to discard. You'll see that most of the photo has been tinted with a purple hue. This is what PowerPoint thinks I don't want.
The part that's still colored is what PowerPoint is prepared to keep. Notice this frame surrounding the picture. I can adjust this, telling PowerPoint more precisely what I want to keep. As I redraw this, PowerPoint recalculates everything. For example, if I move it close, like this, PowerPoint assumes that I only want to keep this side of the background. But I don't. I also want this hand over here. It didn't quite pick that up yet. Thankfully, there are a few tools, up in the upper left-hand corner in the Background Removal tab, that I can use to refine PowerPoint's understanding of what I want to keep and discard.
Let's go ahead and mark some areas to keep. By clicking on this tool, my pointer now represents a pencil. I am now going to draw a line by clicking and dragging, then letting go. That tells PowerPoint I want to keep everything that I touched from the beginning to the end of my line. I'm going to do that again over here, where it somehow missed a part of the dollar bill. I'm going to click, drag across, and let go. You don't need to be precise. Just make sure you don't accidentally click on any area that you don't want to keep.
It looks like part of the hand is missing over here, so I'm going to go ahead and click and drag over that, as well. This picture is already looking great. In fact, I'm going to zoom in a little bit using the Zoom slider, so we can really see what's going on here, just in case I want to be a little bit picky. It's a good thing I did that, because if I look closely at this, although the hand itself looks pretty good, parts of the money are still being cut off. Again, I can use the Mark Areas to Keep tool to say yes, I do want that area, such as this part of the dollar bill here, and this portion here.
Notice how PowerPoint assumes that even though I've marked in this area here, it even said, oh! Well, this is kind of the same thing over here and over here. Maybe he wants all that too. It starts to fill in the picture for me. This may seem like it takes a lot of time, but I guarantee you, it's pretty quick when you get the hang of it, and it's a lot faster than using another program to do it. Another way to speed this up is to tell PowerPoint the sections of the photo that I don't want. I'll use the Mark Areas to Remove tool to do this.
This may seem redundant, as most of the picture background is already removed. But if I stress this to PowerPoint, it starts to really understand. Here, I'm drawing a line just across the picture that's already been moved out. By doing so, especially if I get close to the money, it will better understand what I'm doing. I'll mark a few more areas to keep, do a quick check to make sure I didn't miss anything and that is it.
There is my ready-to-go picture. Once I'm done, I'll click on Keep Changes. Now you can see the background has been removed and replaced with what is my real background in the back of the slide. Let's use the Zoom slider to see the entire slide. Now I can see the finished result. Notice how now, when I take this and position this near my text, it shines right through. At this point, I'm going to use the Rotate tool to rotate this image around 180 degrees.
Move it down to the bottom of my slide. I can make it a little larger if I want to. I'll use my arrow keys to adjust this exactly in the right spot, and I'm done. Just like that, those pesky backgrounds are history. This is one of those got-to-try-it features that's new to PowerPoint 2010. Try it out on your own presentation, and I think you'll love the results. Keep in mind that if you start with a low-resolution or a fuzzy photo, your results won't be that great. This feature works best with high -resolution original photographs or illustrations.
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Create a Video – This feature converts your presentation into a .WMV file (video) which you can then upload to your own website, YouTube, Facebook, or just about anywhere else. If you upload it to a site like YouTube which permits embedding, you can then copy-and-paste the embed code directly into your own website. It will play when users click the Play button, much like you’ve probably seen on blogs and other websites. This feature includes your voice narration, slide advance timings, and video that you may have included.
Save to Web – This feature uploads your presentation to SkyDrive, a free file-hosting service by Microsoft that you can use for collaboration. You’ll need a Windows Live account first, but once you log in you can create folders and upload files directly from within PowerPoint 2010. Once uploaded, you can provide a public link to the presentation file which can then be added to your website. The presentation will open in visitors’ browsers with forward and back buttons, and they do not need a Windows Live account to view it.
Create PDF/XPS Document – By saving your presentation as a PDF, you can upload the PDF to your website and link to it. Most users will be able to load and watch the PDF presentation, and can advance slides manually. Note that this feature does not permit video, sound, animation, or transitions.
PowerPoint Viewer - A fourth option is to save your presentation as a Show (you’ll find this under the “Save As” menu) which creates a PPSX file. PowerPoint Shows are just like regular presentation files, except PowerPoint opens up in presentation mode to the first slide, and when finished it closes completely. The PPSX file can be uploaded to your website, and linked to. Users with PowerPoint 2007 or later will be able to open the presentation and watch it. For users without PowerPoint 2007 or later, you can provide a second link to the free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer which they can then install on any Windows machine and watch your presentation.
The first three options discussed above can be started by choosing “Save and Send” from Backstage View (the File menu). Then choose the appropriate option based on your preference.
Note that if your organization has a SharePoint server, and your audience is limited to those with access to SharePoint, you may choose to “Save to SharePoint” instead for an easy, feature-rich solution.
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