How’s that for a little alliteration?
The advent of Microsoft Office 2007 and the included major upgrade to PowerPoint has much to offer the presenting photographer. The creation and management of templates is greatly enhanced. In addition, a major graphics engine overhaul has added many first-class graphics augments that shouldn’t become too cliché for some years.
If you like to show your photographs to groups using PowerPoint as I do, you will welcome these new features. One of my favorite features is the ability to create a layout within a template with a placeholder for a photograph or multiple photographs and customize it to the nth degree. Once these templates are built, it is an easy matter to import many photos in an automated fashion and have them appear in very nifty placeholders which can be customized with borders, glow effects, odd shaped containers, bevels, soft edges and the like.
The image at left is from the PowerPoint interface showing you the choices you have now for photo containers. Any combination of these may be applied to your images. By editing the placeholder on the slide master you can achieve uniformity throughout your entire presentation with minimal labor.
I created a test file where I made a custom layout within the template for the purpose of testing the fidelity of the graphics imported by PowerPoint. As you can see from my example, there is the traditional placeholder top-left, a rounded rectangle placeholder with border top-right, a rectangular placeholder with border and glow bottom-left and a rectangular placeholder with border, glow and bevel bottom right.
The bottom-right image turns out to be a problem. When I built my last presentation, I wanted to use a border with a glow and a bevel to simulate a lighted, framed, gallery-wrap treatment. I noticed that when I imported my photos into the placeholder that the fidelity of the image seemed to suffer. To make certain this was the case, I did some testing of the various effects to see what was happening.
I disregarded the 3D Rotation treatment as it, by its nature, is designed to distort any graphic within the placeholder. After testing all the other new effects, I can report that images seem to degrade whenever a bevel is applied to a placeholder-regardless of other effects and augments.
As you can see by the above example the graphics all appear as expected with the exception of the image inside the placeholder with the bevel applied. (far right) The image has been made softer by the rendering engine that is applying the bevel. The edge is not nearly as crisp and the detail is lacking the clarity of the other three examples. Overlaying the two exported graphics from PowerPoint in Corel PhotoPaint and setting the blend mode to Difference reveals the areas where the image is changing.
Difference Mode Overlay in Corel PhotoPaint X4 showing areas
of change between normal and beveled placeholder.
No doubt the degradation is subtle enough that an audience will likely fail to notice the softening of the image if you use a beveled placeholder. Resolution of projectors, construction materials of screens, accuracy of focus and other factors will all likely contribute as much to the apparent sharpness (or lack thereof) of an image.
The new version of PowerPoint is an overall winner for the photographer if you are aware of this pesky placeholder problem.
Rikk Flohr © 2008