At GAAP Dynamics, we strive to make our eLearning modules as interactive and engaging as possible, and one tool we often use to do so is video. We’ve found that using short, animated videos to introduce a topic is a great way to grab the learner’s attention right off the bat.
Many CPAs are familiar with sitting through an online training that consists of little more than a boring slide drive. If that sounds familiar, you probably agree that watching a presentation filled with slide after slide of words is not the best way to make learning stick. In this blog post, I will walk you through the five basic steps of creating a simple video using that very same tool—Microsoft PowerPoint—that can be used to spice up your own eLearning.
First, open up PowerPoint and insert a blank slide. To set the amount of time spent on each slide before it automatically advances, click the Transitions tab, then scroll to the right and check the “After” box. In the field beside it, type in the amount of time in seconds. You can use as many slides as you want to create your video, however, in the example above, I only used one. I set my slide to last for 18 seconds since the background music I added at the end lasts for 18 seconds.
1. Using shapes and icons to draw
There a few different ways to create imagery in PowerPoint, the first of which being shapes, which can be found under the Insert tab. In my example video, the sky, snowflakes and mountains were created using simple rectangles, circles and triangles. The color and opacity of each shape can be changed by navigating to the Shape Format tab at the top right of the tools ribbon.
PowerPoint also has an icon library, which can be found directly to the right of the Shapes dropdown menu. The icons can be helpful when an object is needed that would take some time to create yourself. Their size and coloring can be manipulated to match your vision. The trees in our example video came from the icon library.
Looking for a little more freedom to draw your own scenery? The Scribble tool (found under Shapes) allows you to draw freehand directly on the slide. This is the tool I used to create the snow drifts that make up the ground in my scene.
Another great drawing tool found under Shapes is the Freeform tool, which I used to create the snow caps on top of the mountains. The Freeform tool is best used when you need a complex shape made up of straight lines.
With a little imagination, you can create just about anything you want on your slide using only the shapes and icons offered within PowerPoint!
2. Bringing in your own graphics
Hoping to create something a little more complex than what you can draw yourself? PowerPoint makes it easy to import your own assets using the Pictures function under the Insert tab. For example, instead of trying to build Santa’s sleigh and reindeer in PowerPoint myself, I brought in a graphic to save time. PowerPoint allows for editing of your photo or graphic using the Picture Format tab, which appears after an image has been imported.
3. Adding animations
Now for the fun part: Bringing your vision to life! Click on any object you’d like to add movement to and click Animations. PowerPoint offers tons of options, so the best way to learn what will work best for your video is by playing around!
The snowflakes on my video each have a Path Animation, which is a path I drew for each individual snowflake. When the slideshow starts, the snowflakes move along the path (I chose the Draw Curve option under Path Animation) on a loop. The settings for each animation can be manipulated in the Animations Pane. There are many different options offered here, such as setting the duration of each motion, how and when each motion is triggered, and more.
Note that you can start objects off the stage and have them move onto it later in the scene, as I have done with Santa’s sleigh.
4. Music and sound effects
While creating this video, I discovered that while you can add music and sound effects to your PowerPoint presentation, when converting it to a movie, the audio will not export with the video. (With the exception of narration recorded within PowerPoint itself!) To get around this, export your file as a movie, then import it into a free movie editing software such as iMovie or Shotcut to add the sounds effects of your choosing.
5. Exporting as a movie
When you’re ready to save your movie, scroll up to File, then Export. Choose MP4 or MOV as the file format and there you have it! Your very own custom video you can use in your eLearning.
For a cost-effective option to create simple animated videos, PowerPoint works pretty well. With a little time and creativity, the sky is the limit!
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