I’m still experimenting with storytelling ideas for my Barker family in Georgia. Once again, my storytelling tool of choice is Keynote [Mac - $20 and iOS - $5], the presentation graphics app included in Apple’s iWork suite. It comes with loads of great themes and companies like Jumsoft provide even more. In this example, I’m using the Parchment theme.
Since this is presentation graphics software, it handles all kinds of charts and diagrams easily. Custom family tree diagrams can be drawn quickly using a style that matches the theme of the project. Yes, this is a manual effort, but the custom results are well worth it. The photograph in the background also takes advantage of Keynote functionality. Keynote offers several design options to frame photographs included on a slide. One of those is an edge blur. By blurring the edge then reducing the opacity of the image itself, it becomes part of the background – enhancing the family chart rather than competing with it.
Here’s one example where scrapbooking techniques and presentation techniques have been combined. Graphical elements have been layered and shadows added to give them impact. The Keynote theme’s styles for fonts and colors are being used for the journaling on the page. Journaling has been kept relatively short with lots of images telling their own part of the story.
The schoolhouse in the bottom right corner was a black and white copy machine copy of an old photo. By cutting out the distracting clutter in the sky around the building, tinting it to match the slide’s color scheme and adjusting the opacity to let it blend into the corner of the slide, I was able to give a poor quality image the historical importance it deserves. And, while the class photo is also tinted to match the theme, the ragged white frame and shadowing allow it to stand out next to the school image.
Keynote – and other presentation apps – offer a lot of useful functionality and plenty of creative leeway, making them great platforms for any number of family history projects. They make it easy to combine text and images, create diagrams and add new pages any place within the project. They also offer any number of ways to share the final product. Keynote can export the presentation to a PowerPoint file, a PDF document, individual image files or a QuickTime movie. And, you can post your presentation at online platforms like Slideshare to take advantage of Keynote’s multimedia capabilities. Both of these platforms support animations and sound, however the user experience will depend on the operating system and browser used to view the result.
Presentations graphics aren’t just for the board room. They are also becoming an impressive component of the family historian’s digital storytelling toolbox.