PowerPoint And Photo-Objects
By: Geetesh Bajaj
Last Updated: March 4th 2009
Our presentation is for a fictitious company that is in the real estate business - they will be showing this presentation at their annual shareholder's meeting. Year after year, the in-house team of Sun, Shine and Storm has churned up these presentations like lemonade on a picnic - they use the same stable of templates and clipart that ship with PowerPoint - by now everyone has seen that picture of a businessman with the briefcase - or the one that shows money raining. The lack of imagination does not stop here - the shareholders and invited press get to see the same presentation each year - with some topics and figures changed. To put it in a phrase, the show is already as stale as yesterday's newspaper. Can matters get worse?
The directors of the company are aware of this - so this year they want all the canned illustrations to go altogether - in their place they want real photographs. That should be easy - with digital cameras available aplenty, photos are going to be a piece of cake - if that's what the in-house team believes, who are we to disillusion them?
So Sun sends Shine to click snaps - and Storm brews them into the computer - and then they just insert the pictures into their presentation. But - and you knew there had to be a 'but' somewhere, one of the directors views the presentation before the actual showing - his verdict is not going to earn any promotions for the trio of Sun, Shine and Storm. Rather they are told that the squares of pictorial content in the presentation look as out-of-place as an umbrella on a clear day! So, what's wrong with the pictures - well, look at this one - good old Mrs. Growold looks good as a computer operator - but did you have to include her lettuce sandwiches and apple juice as well? And another instance - that chess pawn is small enough to be ineffective - that is if it was not photographed on the wrong background in the first place. So, just cut out just the pawn from the rest of the image, so that it does not obstruct that chart. You were asked to use pictures - but pictures need not be square or rectangle - why can't we have masked photos of objects?
There were more problem areas - but you must have guessed the pattern by now - so our sympathies are with Sun, Shine and Storm - who now look more like Dumb, Dull and Dazed. Luckily for them, a new colleague gives them a box of Photo-Objects!
Photo-Objects from Hemera Technologies is a clip media collection that's different from conventional offerings - it contains pre-masked objects extracted from regular photographs. If you want to learn more about the Photo-Object concept, look at this review:
On the other hand, if you do not know what masking or alpha channels are - and how PowerPoint supports them, you could look up this:
You must have guessed we are going to look at techniques to use Photo-Objects with PowerPoint. Before that, let's discuss the scope of this page - first we'll create a PowerPoint presentation, export some Photo-Objects to a mask aware graphics format like TIFF, insert them in PowerPoint and finally look at distribution aspects of such a presentation.
To appeal to the largest user base, let's imagine we're creating a basic business presentation with the usual charts, visual content, backgrounds, etc. I'm using a designer background from Ppted, a house of presentation templates promoted by Indezine. You might want to download this free sample template from the Ppted site:
The presentation was intended to be processed normally, with charts, figures, text content, etc. Photo-Objects were chosen to impart visual content. We followed this procedure:
- Load up Photo-Objects - if you don't own the product,
you can download the free Big Box of Art sampler from
Hemera's site, which contains a limited selection of
Big Box of Art Sampler
- Search for visual content using keywords in the Photo-Objects
browser - you'll find more info at:
- Right click the object thumbnail and choose the 'Export'
option to launch the Export Wizard dialog box. There
is an option to choose your destination application -
and sure enough PowerPoint is actually listed as one
of the destination applications. However, we will not
take that route, since you will end up losing all the
mask information this way - so choose the second last
option called 'Graphics Application that supports 32
bit images with a transparency mask' and press 'Next'.
- Choose the aspect ratio and resolution as required
- do note that PowerPoint presentations are normally
intended for onscreen viewing - thus using a resolution
higher than 72 dpi will only balloon your image disk
size - also, you might want to explore other options
here, such as cropping and flipping. Once you are satisfied,
- In the next screen, under the drop down menu with options related to the save format, choose 'TIFF with Transparency' - choose a destination to save your TIFF file. You're done - we'll now import the Photo-Object into PowerPoint.
We've just completed the difficult part in this tutorial - the rest of the technique is fairly simple - just open your slide in PowerPoint, choose Insert | Picture - and navigate to our saved Photo-Object in the TIFF format. Choose the Photo-Object - and press the 'Insert' button. Back in PowerPoint, your Photo-Object is not a typical square object - it's actually shaped around the contours of the original design. It looks different and well-designed - and professional too!
- There should be no problems distributing any presentations,
where Photo-Objects have been used. All Photo-Objects
become embedded within the presentation, since we used
the standard TIFF format.
- Photo-Objects are available in three collections of
50,000 images each currently - some Photo-Objects are
also included in Hemera's "The Big Box of Art" clip
- PowerPoint usually displays vector formats like WMF with coarse edges - this can often look unforgiving onscreen - pixel based media like Photo-Objects on the other hand appear with smoother edges.