Powerpointless (OSS proposal)

A way to wow people with your own Keynote-style 3D effects

Powerpoint slides into oblivion - example slide Powerpoint slides into oblivion - example slide

This is about communicating effectively to managers with a short attention span. If that's you, skip straight to the video demo and then come back here to read about it.

The original web-based demo is still there, but outdated. I can't run the new app directly in a webpage as it depends on Quicktime for Java. I'll post the code and invite contributions when it's a bit more stable

I've been ruminating on comments from Dave Chatting a when he was here at MIT a few years ago. He was challenging people to avoid Powerpoint presentations - a tired format which is well known to turn interesting ideas into mush.

A considered response

After all this time to think about it, you might imagine I've developed some kind of profound response to this challenge.

You'd be disappointed.

Instead, given that people have become inured to the routine of Powerpoint, I thought I'd deliver to them something which makes them just slightly uncomfortable. Something which is almost powerpoint, but not quite. Just enough to wake them up and ask - what IS that?

Let it slide

Powerpoint slides into oblivion - example slide Powerpoint slides into oblivion - example slide

Of course this is already possible if you have Keynote Apple's iWorks suite which includes all kinds of 3d transitions and effects which create feelings of shock and awe before M$ junkies. However, not everyone has an Apple. Plus this just promises more tired repetition of the same old transitional effects, but from Apple instead of Microsoft.

So we want something which will be capable to manage fully formatted slideware and proceed through the deck, but also provide a surface for creative transitions and graphical expression. Something where people can really go crazy and write their own presentation-specific video and 3D animation transitions. When you see the kinds of things which people already do with processing like cell noise, Golan Levin's Yellowtail and a whole host of amazing art projects, then it's a fairly sure bet what tool I'm going to use for this.

Code please!

The principle is illustrated by the web-embedded example I produced of a 3D rendering of an imaginary slide deck, (code is linked from the demo). The deck is simply made up out of JPEGs alphabetically ordered in a directory. Interestingly, the Powerpoint 'Export' function allows you to export a slide deck in this way as JPEG, so if we can get together a community of people to write simple transitions, everyone can jazz up their powerpoint whilst still using the same authoring tools that they are comfortable with. Of course you could also use Inkscape or Gimp to create your own slides, or even build crazy video transitions in Blender and wire these in, assuming someone bothers to write a video transition.

Future developments

I reckon without too much effort I should be able to write a harness which allows people to create their own transition plugins, and wire them into the presentation tool. Then it's just a matter of a community effort collecting together lots of transitions.

There is a fullscreen mode in Processing too, you'll be glad to know. Also the system can be deployed as a double-click application on Linux, Mac and Windows, using the export function built in to the Processing IDE. Anyone any more ideas for transitions, then just mail me.


processing (4)

open source (3)