Fine-Tuning PowerPoint’s Morph Function

Using Morph

It’s October 18 – Persons Day. On this day in 1929, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Great Britain made the decision to include women under the legal definition of persons in Canada. This landmark was thanks to the efforts of the Famous Five, a group of Albertan suffragettes whose names were Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby.

I figured this would be a great opportunity to test out PowerPoint 2019’s morph function in order to create a presentation honouring the Famous Five. I started with an image of these women in elliptical frames, all taken at roughly the same distance. I then made four duplicates, and used PowerPoint’s Remove Background feature so that I had one image of each individual woman. I lined these up at the top of the title slide, and then duplicated the slide four times. I used the morph function to blow up each woman’s photo in turn, with each previous photo receding back up to the top row once her individual profile was clicked through.

Morph isn’t Perfect

My plan, however, wasn’t foolproof. I noticed that in several of the transitions, the large image and the small one that replaced it would not glide towards each other’s positions. Instead, invisible versions of the original uncropped image would glide around within the crop frame, each image refocusing on its new subject independently.

Fixing the Problem

To solve this, we took five oval shapes and sized them to fit the women’s frames as closely as possible. We then grouped each image with its oval. Now, instead of sliding around the uncropped image, the transition applied to the shape, inflating it and shrinking it as we had hoped.

This, though, allowed us to discover a new problem: on several of the transitions, the image coming to the forefront would abruptly jump through the receding image; clearly, the z-order (position in the imaginary stack of all items on the slide) was not consistent between slides. Simply picking a consistent order and applying it to all slides solved this, but it left us with one more thing to think about.

When issuing forth from the top row, or rejoining it, some of the images would glide just underneath the edges of adjacent images on their way to their final position. I felt that this did not make aesthetic sense; shouldn’t the bigger, “closer” image glide in front of the smaller ones? The thing was, though, that tweaking the z-order to avoid this inevitably led back to the other problem of images jumping through one another.  We solved this by duplicating the problematic images and aligning the duplicate directly overtop of the original; we then animated the duplicate to appear after the last morph transition, with the original disappearing at the same time. This resulted, finally, in a seamless transition.