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Mac 101: Using Keynote as Motion in a bind (Updated)

Update: KeynoteUser.com notes that it's easy to export your Keynote animations with an alpha channel, making it much simpler to work with them in pro editing apps or in Motion.

On this trip to WWDC I packed light. One backpack, a MacBook Air and a camera light. I haven't had my Air for very long, and I've been trying to install only essential software on it and see what I can do without. I've been impressed enough with iMovie's capabilities (once you get past what I consider to be a terrible UI), so I didn't bother loading Final Cut Studio. I forgot, however, to whip up some "bumpers" (intro/outro) for our videos before I left. I'm used to using Apple's Motion to handle that, but I found myself looking for an easy alternative. The solution I found was Keynote, and a grand solution it is.

I'm certain many of our intrepid readers have used this method in the past, but it was new to me. If you've never used Keynote, think of it as PowerPoint on a type of steroids that automatically make presentations not look like steaming piles of bullet points. With the animation and build tools available in the object inspector, I was able to drag in a couple of logos, type a little text and create a five-second intro in about five minutes. I created the whole thing in one frame, easily timed and sequenced the animations and output a QuickTime file ready to drop into iMovie. I have to say, the process was a thing of beauty.

Below is a sample of the results, created in Keynote and soundtracked in GarageBand. I won't claim they're genius, but it was a surprisingly elegant solution in a pinch. Even if you never use higher-end production tools, keep Keynote in mind next time you need custom titles or video intros. Combine it with some loops in GarageBand and have some stylish video ready to go in just a few minutes. You can grab Keynote in the Mac App Store as a standalone app for US$19.99.

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