Q: I attended a conference recently in which the instructor used an impressive animation effect to navigate the presentation from a single page, moving and zooming from one topic to another almost like navigating a road map with a magnifying glass. As he reached each topic, the screen zoomed in to reveal topic details. I didn’t get a chance to ask how it was done, but I’d like to try it. Am I making sense, and do you know what I’m talking about?
A: I am guessing that the functionality you are referring to is a “canvas and presentation path” feature like the functionality offered by Prezi. Like PowerPoint, Prezi is a presentation development tool, but it forgoes traditional slides and instead uses a canvas-and-path approach to design and deliver presentations. Prezi is a Web-based solution available for free at prezi.com. Following is a brief description of Prezi and the functionality you mentioned.
When building a presentation using Prezi, you start with a large blank canvas and paste text, images or videos onto the canvas. These objects represent the different sections of your presentation. Next, use your mouse pointer to rotate, resize and reposition those objects on the canvas. To assist with this process, Prezi displays a visual tool atop each object called a Zebra, an example of which is pictured below.
To use the Zebra tool, click and drag the tool’s center, inner circle or outer circle to move, grow/shrink or rotate objects. Next, select the Path option from Prezi’s Bubble menu, then click each canvas object in the sequence you want them covered in your presentation. Finally, select the Show option from the Bubble menu to deliver your presentation. As you advance through your presentation, Prezi will follow the path you created, automatically zooming in and out of your canvas objects. Prezi’s presentation path effect is both unique and professional; you can view several example presentations here: prezi.com/explore. Upon completion, your presentation can be saved as a video clip or published to the Prezi storage site, or another video site, such as YouTube.
Note: Prezi offers two higher-end versions, which cost $59 or $159 per year. These versions enable users to work offline, keep content private and store presentations online, among other enhancements. The Prezis you create will remain on the Prezi website even without renewing your annual contract, but you must pay the annual fee to make further changes to those presentations.
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