Thursday, July 13, 2006

Advanced PowerPoint Animations: F For Fission

I came across the 1953 filmstrip "A Is For Atom" the other day and was floored by the quality of its animation. It is easily among the best scientific animation I have seen, and I found it in an educational film sponsored by GE touting the wonders of nuclear energy.

I have been working on some PowerPoint teaching materials that cover nuclear waste, and need to explain nuclear power and fission to seventh-graders in the process. I first considered editing this public-domain film down to the clip I wanted and embedding it in the PowerPoint, but I generally avoid that route, so I decided to try to recreate the scene using PowerPoint animation. Below is the original clip I am working to build in a PowerPoint-friendly format.

The process has been an interesting one, forcing me to confront some of the intricacies of PowerPoint animation as I attempt to replicate the effects in the film and at times discard them for a style that feels truer to the medium I'm translating into. I am putting the finishing touches on it now and will post my results in downloadable PPT form as well as on a video clip as soon as I run them through Camtasia and decide on whether or not to mess with adding sound. I have thought about adding clips from the original film's audio to enhance the video version I post here, but this would be less useful to teachers, who would be better off explaining the process themselves at the various pauses in the slide show.

You can download or view the full version of the movie where I found it, at the Internet Archive.

To view the finished PowerPoint in a streaming video format, click here.

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