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Chart of the Month – February 2011 – Sliding Picture Group in Map Cutout

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This slide is perfect to leave on screen while the presenter addresses questions, talks about general topics, at the beginning or end of a presentation, etc. It is used to set tone and convey an overall theme. You can do this with any cutout object, not just maps.


Download the animated example and take a look at the animation scheme. It is very simple: a group of photos assembled in a horizontal collage and grouped. The group is then animated with a motion path to the right. Assign the speed that best meets your needs with no smooth start or stop. Move the collage to right or left and stop point so that the collage begins and ends where you desire. This may take a few adjustments to get it just right.

As you can see in the download, there is the map cutout and two vertically oriented white rectangles on both sides of the cutout. These white rectangles are layered over the photograph group and hide it as it moves onto and off of the slide. These rectangles can be grouped with the cutout, but it isn't necessary. The cutout and rectangles can be colored to match your template's background if you have a solid background (no gradient or pattern). If you have a gradient or pattern, you need to make a choice:

  1. Create a "band" of overlays that is clearly different from the background
  2. Take a screenshot of your template and crop it so that the cropped pieces can be brought into the cutout and rectangles.

Obviously the first one is the easiest. But the second is a really nice, elegant visual effect. Let's take a look at both techniques.

Create a band

The image below shows the three fields that make up the band (outlined in red). Remember that these can be colored to match your solid-color template background or a complementary color. All fields should all be the same color, however.

PowerPoint chart formatting overlay band

Here's a formatting option that you might want to use, but it's not required. Notice the inside the cutout map in the flash above and the image directly below: they have been formatted with PowerPoint 2007/2010 drop shadows. These drop shadows lift the map away from the the sliding photograph group. It looks really nice. The trouble is that the drop shadow is not only on the inside of the cutout map, it is at the bottom and side as well (see red boxes below) . This doesn't work because the rectangles and the cutout need to appear to be one continuous object, and the shadow disrupts this illusion. So to get around this, just format the map cutout with a drop shadow, save it as a picture, and then crop out the bottom of the cutout so that the drop shadow is removed. Problem solved.

PowerPoint chart cropping instructions

Use a screenshot

This will take a few steps, but they're easy.

  1. Take one screenshot of your template's background.* Crop it and size it so that it fits perfectly on your slide and looks like the document's background
  2. Send the screenshot to the back layer
  3. Make 3 copies of the screenshot
  4. Align all 3 copies so that they are perfectly on top of one another
  5. Crop 1 screenshot so that it is the same size as the rectangle on the right and crop 1 screenshot so that it is the same size as the rectangle on the left
  6. Crop 1 screenshot so that it is the same size as the map cutout and import it into the map cutout. See How do I create photographs in different shapes from rectangular photographs? for instructions on how to do this if you are unfamiliar with the technique (it's easy).
  7. Apply drop shadow to the screenshot imported into the map cutout
  8. Save it as a picture (make it a PNG file format)
  9. Bring the picture onto slide and crop out the portions of the shadow that are not wanted
  10. Position and size the cropped map cutout so that it completes the band" of overlays

The image below shows you what you'll have when you've completed the steps. We've just used a photograph of a background. The green rectangle represents the collage of photographs that you'll put together, group, and animate as previously mentioned. The blue in the image below is the area off the slide, and it is not visible when presenting.

PowerPoint chart with background cutout

* Or copy your background out of your slide master if you know how to do this and the background has been saved as a jpg or other single file.

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