Update 11.29.2010 – Hey everyone, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many views this post is getting. If you have any questions on how I do something in Keynote, please ask in the comments. That way, it’s a resource for others to use. Also, I’m starting to label other blog posts where I reference Keynote. Those posts have been tagged with the “Keynote” label. I need to go back through the blog and find others, but this label is a start. Thanks for reading!

More and more I’m asked how I produce animation through Apple’s Keynote software. So, this is a history of how I came to use Keynote, and some examples of animation I’ve produced in Keynote. I’ll try and provide some pointers as to how I cheat animation, or use smoke and mirrors, with the software. The big reason why I use Keynote is because of the time it saves, as opposed to doing a project in Motion or Flash, and because its simple.

The idea of cheating animation first came to me in 2006. I was working on some promotional graphics that played on screens in the Atrium at CCC. Originally, I was told to put together a slideshow of various promotional graphics. I didn’t think it was too exciting too someone watching. So, I took one of the finished graphics and edited it again in Photoshop. I saved multiple versions of the finished file, but each version had a different layer of the graphic missing. This gave me the ability to play with the transitions and builds in a greater way.

At the time, most people here when creating slideshows used PowerPoint. I didn’t like PowerPoint and instead used Keynote. Keynote was (and still is) much easier to use. I imported the versions of the file into Keynote, and using different transitions from slide to slide, it gave the appearance that the slideshow was an animation. (For instance, with that project I would use a wipe transition to give the appearance the graffiti was being animated. From slide to slide I’d just adjust the timing and what position the transition started.)

When people saw it, some thought I had animated the graphic. When I told people I did it in Keynote, it led to more projects. It also got me thinking how far could I take the software.

A few months later, I was asked to write, storyboard and co-produce a series of animations on the Book of Jonah. Did this have anything to do with Keynote? No, but working on this project did give me ideas on how to best utilize Keynote.

Here’s part one of the Jonah animations.

The animations were released in early 2007. They were a big hit, and it led to more animation, illustration and creative projects for the both of us. Producing those animations, though, also helped me to understand the process better and have a better grasp of what works best. I’d use that knowledge with Keynote.

Later in 2007, I saw a video that was a catalyst to how I use Keynote even today. It was produced by XPLANE and called Did You Know 2.0.

The video was simple, yet extremely powerful in its message. I thought I needed to do something similar with projects that come up at work.

The first opportunity came in late 2007. CCC was hosting a concert in conjunction with Global Summit. (A missions conference that occurs every year here.) My boss wanted a video/slideshow that would show information about the different countries CCC partners with around the world. What was suppose to be a simple piece I turned into something bigger.

First of all, here’s the end product and then I’ll explain some of the things I did in it. It’s my first big Keynote project, and is over three years old, so some of the edits I cringe at now. (Like using center justify way too much with the text.)

  • To honor the original Did You Know video, I put that text at the outset of the video.
  • One of the ideas sprang from Van Halen’s song Right Now, which is why I used the song.
  • The typography to open the video is simple. I use a slide with all the type in white on a black background. I then duplicate that slide numerous times and change all the letters, except for one, to the color black. Each slide has a different letter that is white on a black background. I then randomly arrange the slides before the slide that has all the type. I don’t have a transition from slide to slide, thereby giving it the pseudo-effect it has. To fine-tune the timing with the music, after I exported the Keynote presentation as a QuickTime movie, I edited the movie in iMovie to line it up with the music.
  • I’d duplicate a slide if I wanted to use type on it multiple times. I probably should’ve used build-in and build-out more than I did, but instead just did a build-in and then would go to the next slide.
  • Sometimes the transitions can be overkill, but if used right it can work. When I did the Cube transition, it worked well because it was white text to white text on a black background.
  • I don’t think some of the transitions that were available in that version of Keynote are no longer available, like the Burn or Water Drop transitions.
  • With presenting a lot of information, I think people will buy into your animation cheats. I hardly ever use the Page Flip transition, but here it worked with the El Salvador segment of the video. Complementing it were the music and the speed of the transition.
  • At the beginning of the Mali segment, I did a Mosaic transition from a blank slide to a slide with the Malian flag. I then duplicated that slide and added the text “Mali” and did a Wipe transition into it. Then, I duplicated that slide and removed the flag graphic and did a dissolve between the two slides where it left “Mali” on black. And the, I did a build-out with the text.
  • In stating the obvious, music is always key. With the Mali segment, it was going to be critical to find music that fit the tenor of that segment. That’s why I ended up with an orchestral piece. It’s Michael Giacchino’s Credit Where Credit Is Due off of the Lost season one soundtrack. The images and information was going to convey the story. I didn’t want the music to distract during this portion.
  • I did try and keep a majority of transitions consistent from segment to segment.
That video was basic in a lot of ways, yet people came away impressed at the end product. It was a lot more than what was expected, and raised the bar with what we did with information pieces.
Greg and I produced a few more animations, but it’d be awhile till I worked in Keynote again. When the time came, I had some new ideas I wanted to try and implement.
Late in 2008, I was asked to create and produce something for Vision Morning. This is the first Sunday in 2009, and casts the vision for the year. I wasn’t really given much of a script. Here’s the end product, and then I’ll go into how it was made.
  • As soon as I saw the movie The Dark Knight, I knew I wanted to use the film’s score in a project here. The music is from the 2-disc, special edition version of the soundtrack. I edited together two of the tracks for the music in this video. I also thought it would work well with the tenor of the video. Besides the music being phenomenal, it gave me a lot of cues to work with in the video.
  • Nearly all of the cues were set in Keynote. This sometimes became tough, because I’d have to replay the presentation from the beginning for the music to sync up.
  • I spent countless hours researching all the information that was presented in this video.
  • While the color scheme is similar to Did You Know, the colors were chose because they were the same colors we used with our RISKS branding.
  • The opening where the text transitions in to fill the screen and slowly reveal the text “Christ Community Church” was an ode to the Batman logo appearing at the beginning of Batman Begins. I also liked the idea of the reveal as a way of in the midst of all these statistics, CCC will be there.
  • To pull off the text intro, I had to do a number of slides and build-ins. The text “Christ Community Church” was in white, but hidden on the white background. I had it arranged on the slides to always be the top layer so when the text transitioned in behind it would slowly reveal “Christ Community Church”.
  • So, there are three different sets of text with the intro. Each set represents a different slide in Keynote, and then numerous build-ins on each of those slides.
  • I used the Dissolve transition a lot in this project. I’d slow the transition speed to give it an animated feel. You’ll see this a lot with the text color, and icons, going from white to yellow. I’d pull this off by just duplicating the slide and then changing the color and then setting the Dissolve transition.
  • The RISKS spray-painted graphic near the beginning is a flash animation that Greg created. I dropped it into its own slide.
  • The first time “RESTORE, RECONNECT, REPRODUCE” appear, it’s a Drop build-in with the text at a low opacity. I then duplicate that slide and raise the opacity to 100% on “RESTORE” and then Dissolve into that slide for the effect. I’d use this technique throughout.
  • The man and woman icon were created by our graphics person, and then I just duplicated it numerous times depending on the slide. (Including one slide where I had 50 of each on it.)
  • I used the Appear build-in feature, with 0 seconds as the transition time, when the list appears of the Human Development Index.
  • Keynote has graphs you can use and thus made it easy when showing the charts.
  • When the number counts up to 33% on the percent that are “moderately committed to Christian faith”, it’s a duplicate of the same slide with the number being the only change on each of those slides. Then, the slide is on for less than half a second to give the illusion of the numbers counting.
  • I exported the video as a QuickTime movie and then imported it into iMovie to add and edit the live video clips that play at the end.
When it played it was incredibly well-received. I think over half the time people talked to me about it, they wanted to talk about The Dark Knight as well.
A few months later I was asked to create and produce an informational piece on the Bible. Here’s what I came up with.

I think by this point you know how I’m able to pull it off. I kept this one simple.

So that’s a bit of history and how-to with my use of Keynote and “animation”. Early next week, I’ll post the latest video I did in Keynote.

If you have any questions about how I used Keynote, just let me know.

To see more of the videos I’ve created, written and produced in some capacity, click here.

10 thoughts on “How To Animate With Keynote

  1. Hi Ramhatter,

    You're doing a fantastic job with KeyNote and I really look forward to see a “behind my shoulders” how-to video.

    Have you made such a video (with screenflow or camtasia) already or do you plan to make one?




  2. I have thought about that. I've been overwhelmed by the response to the post, and will be doing a follow-up on it soon.

    The issue right now is time, but I'll see what I can do. I do know I have a project in the future that will be utilizing Keynote to cheat animation again.

    Thanks for reading!


  3. Hi
    I enjoyed reading your how to on Keynote animation……One part has me lost though….how did you in “Vision Morning” fade the words to black leaving the text “Christ community Church”? And how many slides did you use for all the words…..many or did your build get huge?
    Thanks again…enjoyed it.
    I am giving a presentation tomorrow on animating in keynote and will use your beginnings as examples for my faculty to try.
    Simon Power
    Shanghai American School


  4. @spower – Sorry for not responding right away. Thanks for your comments, and it's nice to know my work can be helpful with your presentations.

    The first 40 seconds of the video was a bit crazy to set up. The effect was pulled off with “Christ Community Church” text always being the top layer. So, when I kept having text appear it would come in behind the “Christ Community Church” text.

    There were a series of different builds over a few slides. In the build-up to the reveal, you'll notice 3 groupings of text. Each group was a different slide which made it easier to control the various buil-in transitions and timings.

    As the text filled in behind, it started to blacken out the white background. Once all the text finished coming in, I duplicated the slide. The duplicated slide I changed the slide background to black. With the text being black as well, except for the “Christ Community Church” text being white, “Christ Community Church” sticks out in stark contrast. Between the two slides I did a dissolve transition.

    I then duplicated that slide and made the “Christ Community Church” text yellow and did a dissolve transition into that.

    I hope this is helpful to you. If you have any more questions just let me know.


  5. Glad I could help, Chris. Thanks for reading and for your comment. For more Keynote videos/idea, click on the Keynote tag and that'll take you to all the Keynote-related posts.


  6. One thought about OrangeDrum's question:

    Beginning at about :30 into my Keynote video, you'll see what looks like a digital timer. I created that by overlaying a stack of numbers done in DS-DIGITAL font. I built in each successive number a few seconds after the old one so it looked like a timer. To overlay the numbers perfectly on top of one another I believe I just aligned them horizontally and vertically.

    Great to see other people doing interesting stuff with Keynote animation.


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