Well, we had the family Christmas party on Saturday, and Kathy’s qualities as a hostess, our little niece Chevelle, and Steve’s Jeopardy Game was were the big hits from what I can tell.
Steve and Sue arrived a bit early so Steve and I started discussing the much anticipated Jeopardy game. Steve typically just writes out his questions and categories and reads them off as people select things. So, both Steve and the players have to remember what the categories are and keep track of which questions in each category have been used.
So, while my light and buzzer gizmo solved some of the problems associated with playing the game, like tracking who came up with an answer first, it didn’t solve the problem of managing the questions and answers. Steve mentioned that he had been looking around on line to see if there was some sort of template that would let us use the computer to project the questions on a TV or screen. And, he had found that there were a number of them out there, but was not sure what to do with them.
Since I do stuff with Office a lot, I thought I might see a way to use one. So we got on line and settled on this template (which is based on PowerPoint) that seemed to fit the bill, at least as a starting point.
My point in bringing this up is that if you got interested in making the Jeopardy game that I posted about previously, I got to thinking that you might be interested in knowing about this too. Plus, as I wrote the post, I realized it might also be useful for someone wanting to understand how to automate PowerPoint in the general case.
In any case, this post is about how we optimized the template shown above to make it work for our game on Saturday. In the post, I look at:
- How the template works.
- How to change the size of the table (number of rows and cells) to match your requirements.
- How to customize the automation so things like the Daily Double are associated with the slides of your choosing, the game board populates, the point value in cells that are selected blanks out, etc.
- How to modify colors to make them match the nature of your event.
- How to add sounds.
- How to add a score card.
In addition, at the end of the post, I link you up with my files to use as starting points, for what that might be worth.
The post got a little long with all of the screen shots, etc. so to help you find a particular topic of interest, I added headings in a larger font to help you hunt and peck for your item of interest from the list above.
How the Template Works
The template works by using hyperlinks to jump from the slide that represents the game board to other slides in the slide deck. Here is a screen shot of the hyperlink associated with the “200” under “Topic 1”. Note that it takes you to the slide that has “Topic 1: 200” as its title.
A hyperlink from a back arrow on each of the topic slides takes you back to the game board, as illustrated below.
We both thought this was really cool, but there were a number of things that we wished were different.
- Steve had created questions for 6 topics and the template only had space for 5.
- The colors were not that “Christmasy” (a technical term used by graphic artists to describe how much a given piece of art might put you in the Christmas spirit).
- The black font was hard to read on the dark background.
- There were no “Jeopardyish” sounds (“Jeopradyish” is also a technical term, but one used by recording artists and technicians, similar in concept to “Christmasy”).
- It would be nice to have a way to keep score that didn’t involve Steve making notes on tiny scraps of paper.
So we set about to address these issues, successfully, I might add (at least in my opinion, but bear in mind that by the time this was all over, I had consumed several glasses of wine) and I thought I would share what I did in case you wanted to make similar changes.
Incidentally, the discussion that follows is what I did in PowerPoint/Office 2010, which I have been using all of 2 weeks. I am more familiar with PowerPoint/Office 2007 and earlier. So far, my experience with the 2010 version is that there are a number of things that seem to have either changed or just gone away relative to the previous version. That could just mean I have not discovered features I am familiar with from the past, or am going about doing things in a clunky way. Bottom line is that someone with more Office 2010 experience may see better ways to do what I did, and if so, hopefully, they will chime in.
But that said, I think that everything I did to this file to get it to where we wanted it could also be done in PowerPoint 2007 and probably PowerPoint 2003 (been a while since I used that, so not 100% sure). And, in the broader picture, the techniques I am talking about here can just as easily be used to work with any PowerPoint presentation you might be working on.
Inserting an Additional Column
This was pretty straight forward. The first step was to click into the game board, which is a Table. After you do that, you need to use the table editing features to insert a column for the topic that you want to add. In the screen shot below, you can see that the “Table Tools” features have become active since the table is highlighted and the “Insert Right” function is about to be executed (I had my mouse hovering over it when I took the screen shot).
Here is what it looked like after I added the column.
Once you have added the column, you can just cut and past the point values from one of the other columns into the new column and label the column.
Then you need to add question slides to associate with each of the point values in the new column. You could just create these slides, or you could grab 5 slides associated with a different topic, copy and paste them into the slide deck, and then edit the title to reflect the new topic, which is what we did.
In the screen shot below, you can see that I have inserted the 5 “Topic 1” slides into the deck after the “Topic 5” slides and started to edit them to say “Topic 6”.
Setting Up Hyperlinks to Your New Slides
The last step in this process is to set up hyperlinks from the cells associated with the 6th topic to the slides associated with each cell. Despite the fact that “hyperlink” is a somewhat intimidating and space age sounding term, this process is not too hard. To do it, you need to highlight the text you want to hyperlink, which in this case, is the score value in the cell you are working with (in this picture, it’s the “200” under topic 6). Once you do that, you “right click”, meaning click the right mouse button.
When you “right click”, you will see that one of the choices is to “Edit Hyperlink”.
My example has “Edit Hyperlink” versus “Hyperlink” since I cut and pasted the point values from the adjacent cells and they already had hyperlinks. If you happened to have simply typed the new point values in the new cells, then you would have the “Hyperlink” option available in the drop down instead of the “Edit Hyperlink” option since no links would exist.
In any case, when you select the “Edit Hyperlink” or “Hyperlink” option, you will get a dialog window that will allow you to associate the link with a slide in the slide deck. In this screen shot, you can see I have selected to associate the “200” under “Topic 6” with the slide whose title is “Topic 6:200”
Note that there are a number of selections on the left side of the dialog window that allow you to control where the link takes you. You need to pick “Place in This Document” to get the list of slides to show up. The other choices would let you link to files (like the Score Card I discuss later) or web pages. These are also useful features, but not the feature we need to make the game board work.
At this point, it would probably be a good idea to save things. It’s a good idea to do this frequently, just in case, and, if you are about to make a big change, save the file as a new version. That way if things go amuck (which can happen with computers on occasion), you can go back to an intermediate starting point vs. starting from scratch.
After you have saved, things, run the PowerPoint as a show to test things out. If you have been successful, when the presentation is running, if you hover your cursor over one of the point values, you should get the little Windows pointing finger. When you click, you should jump to the slide associated with the point value and topic. When you click the “Back” arrow on the lower left corner of the slide you jump to, you should end up back at the game board slide.
The Bonus Question and Daily Doubles; A Hyperlinking Special Case
If you explore the slide deck in the template, you will discover there is a Bonus Question slide and two Daily Double slides.
Linking to these slides is just a special case of what I discussed above.
The Bonus Question is virtually the same as linking the point values for a particular topic, but you just link from the Bonus Question cell at the bottom of the game board.
The daily double slides require two hyperlinks. The first link takes you from the point value you have selected under a particular topic to one of the Daily Double slides. Then, you link the words “Daily Double” to the slide associated with the point value and topic you have selected to be your Daily Double.
As a result, what will happen when you run the show is that when a point value associated with a daily double is selected, you will jump to the Daily Double slide (to the surprise, amazement and excitement of your players), take their wager, and then jump to the answer/question slide associated with the topic by clicking on the hyperlink you made from the word “Daily Double”.
Note that you can either use the selections that are embedded in the slide deck for the Daily Double (there are two of them; Topic 3, Point Value 800 and Topic 5, Point Value 600) or you can customize the links to the topics and point values of your choice.
If you do the latter, not only will you need to link the Daily Double slides to the topic and point values you select, you will also need to “unlink” the default Daily Double topics and point values from the Daily Double slides and then re-link them directly to the slide with the answer and question you have chosen for your Daily Double topics and point values. (I know that sounds confusing but I have been trying to re-edit it and so far, this is the best I came up with).
Bottom line is that when you click on a topic and point value that you have selected for the Daily Double, it should take you to one of the two Daily Double slides. In turn, the link from the Daily Double slide should take you to the slide that has the answer and question associated with the topic an point value that started the change of events. And for it all to work properly, you need to make sure you broke the links that were there before you started.
Changing to Christmasy (or Other Appropriate) Colors
Changing colors is a fairly easy proposition. You need to get to the slide master, which you can do by selecting “View” and then “Slide Master”.
Next, right click on the highlighted slide and select “Format Background”. That will open a dialog box that will allow you to change the colors of the current color pattern or apply a totally different color pattern. In this screen shot, you can see that I have started to change the background from shades of blue to shades of Green and Red.
You can practically hear the sleigh bells ringing at this point I suspect.
In any case, you may also want to change the color of the font in the masters so that it shows up better on the background you selected. I changed the font to white for my slides.
Once you think you have something you like, click the “Apply to All” button. Then, close the “Slide Master” window (red square with the white “X” on the right side of the tool bar). You should find your changes reflected on all of your slides.
Changing the Colors that Didn’t Change
Having said that, you will notice that in the screenshot below, some of the slides have elements that are still not appropriately Christmasy.
Specifically, the title text and back-arrow text on the Topic slides is yellow with a purple background and the table that makes up the game board is still various shades of blue.
Changing the Title Text and Shape
In the instance of the title text and the purple background behind it, the colors didn’t change when I changed the master because whom-ever created the template applied a font color to the slide vs. the slide master. The little purple shape behind the title is also something that was added to the slides in the deck vs. something that was in the master. The same goes for the back arrow.
Modifying these items to match your new color scheme is fairly easy to do using PowerPoint’s formatting tools. I’ll show how I modified the font color. Similar techniques are used to modify the shape. To start out, select the text, either by highlighting it or by selecting the text box that contains it and then apply the color you want.
You can also format the purple box to a different color in this manner. I changed mine to white so they would go with just about any background color.
Adjusting the Title Size when you Add Text
Note that in this slide set, even though the text box and text look like one object, they actually are two different items, one is the text box itself and the other is the little highlighting shape, which is aligned with but behind the text box. This can become important if you add text to the box that has more characters than what are currently there.
As you can see, the text wrapped inside the text box and now overlaps the shape. To solve this, you can either stretch out the text box to make it longer and then stretch the shape to match, or you can stretch the shape to make it wider. I chose to stretch the text box and shape to make them longer.
Changing Colors and Other Features by Making a Special Master
I don’t want to get too far off track from my discussion about modifying the Jeopardy game, but I should mention that another way to get a different text color for a particular slide is to create a Master for it in the slide master section. This is the location we went to under “View” and then “Slide Master” to change the background from blues to red and green and white.
If you poke around there, you will discover that you can pick one of the slide masters and insert a duplicate master and then change it for a special case. In the slide below, I created a master with a black background by duplicating the slide above it and then changing the background color to solid black instead of a gradient.
Once you have done that, it will become available as an optional layout on the “Home” tab in the “Slides” section as illustrated below.
The reason you might want to do this is because if you make the change to the slide master, then you can universally apply that change to any slide that uses that master instead of having to go make the change to each slide individually.
That didn’t help me out here since the font color change had already been applied on a slide by slide basis. In other words, the setting from the Master had been overridden. But, moving forward, using the “change the master” technique to make special versions of the slide will allow me to make a change to all slides based on the master with a few mouse clicks instead of having to change each one. In my experience, this can be a real time saver if you present a lot and have to apply different templates to your slides.
Changing the Table Colors
There are also a number of ways that you can change the colors in the game board table. One is to simply use the tools under “Design” in the “Table Tools” menu that becomes available when you click on the table.
But another thing to consider is changing the color pallet for the presentation. Doing that will have an impact similar to changing a master slide lay-out, but it will impact the colors used through out the presentation instead of the arrangement and formatting of the slides. The advantage to this approach is that making the one change will consistently apply the new pallet to all slides unless the pallet colors have been overridden by a selection made specifically on the slide. And you can still do that to fine tune things, as I will demonstrate in a minute.
This screen shot shows me accessing the color pallet, which is under the Design tab.
If you click on the “Create New Theme Colors” option towards the bottom of the drop-down, you will get a dialog box that looks like this.
This dialog box lets you control the colors that will be used for various features by default unless you override them by making a formatting selection on the slide. In the screen shot below, you can see that I changed the color scheme from what is shown in the screen shot above to reflect my desire for the “Christmasy” theme.
After I clicked “Save” in the dialog box, here is what the table looked like.
Pretty “Christmasy”, right? But I decided to make one more change to the table to facilitate the playing of the Jeopardy game.
Making Hyperlinks “Disappear”
Specifically, if you look at the color pallet dialog box, you will notice that it allows you to assign different colors to a hyperlink and a hyperlink that has been followed. In this screen shot, the game has just started and none of the point values have been picked, so all of the hyperlinks are red, which is the color I selected for them when I changed the color pallet.
Here is what the game board slide looked like after I picked the link associated with “Topic 3, 200 Points”.
Notice that it has turned light green, which is the color I selected for a followed hyperlink. As I was working through setting up the game with Steve, it occurred to me that if I formatted the cells in the table for the same color, it would make the hyperlink disappear once it was used. That would be really helpful when we were actually playing the game because we would not have to keep track of what had been selected by the players. If they had selected it, the link would appear to “go away”.
To make this change, I highlighted the cells in the table, which made the “Table Tools” tool bar available (yellow highlight towards the top of the screen).
Then, I picked the “Shape Fill” tool and selected the fill color to match the hyperlink color.
Now, the links become invisible after you select them (they are still there if you mouse over them, but the players can’t see them).
To be honest, I never paid much attention to Jeopardy until I met Kathy and her family. But it quickly became apparent that the sounds are just as much a part of the game as anything. Before I made my Jeopardy gizmo, various people would hum or otherwise make the appropriate sounds during the game. The gizmo added the bells and buzzers when selections are made and ruled out, and the Xylophone we found provided the ability to play the appropriate theme music.
But, as you might suspect, if you poke around on the internet, there are a bunch of places you can go to download sound files for various Jeopardy events. So, Steve and I decided to:
- Add the theme music to the opening slide and the thinking time on the bonus question,
- Add a “magic” sound to each answer slide when it opened up.
- Add the “Daily Double” sound to the two “Daily Double” slides, and
- Add the “Filling the Board” sound to the game board slide.
We also figured out a way to make the game board appear to fill up that I will share.
Since there are a plethora of sounds out there that you can avail yourself of by simply searching for “Jeopardy Sounds” or “Jeopardy wav file”, I’ll leave it to you to settle on the ones that are to your liking and will just show you how we inserted them into the file.
Editing and Converting Sound Files
Near as I can tell, to use a sound in PowerPoint, it needs to be a .wav file; could be wrong about that but it seemed to be true. Some of the files I found were .mp3 files so I needed to make them into .wav files. It turns out that I have a number of things on my laptop that will let me do that. One is Media Monkey, which how Kathy and I manage and play our music.
Another was Wavepad, a sound editing package I have had for quite a while now. In addition to making the file conversions, it lets you mix, fade, splice, etc. It’s way more capability than I need, but it is easy to use, does what I need to do, and was pretty inexpensive when I first bought it (I think maybe $25-$30; years ago now. Currently I think its more like $50).
All of that said, I think you could probably do the basics with Windows Movie Maker, which is a free download. I’ve not used it so I can speak to that directly, but the info out there on the web would seem to say that it might get you what you need for minor edits and conversions with out having to spend anything. In that regard, I think Media Monkey and Wavepad offer free trail versions so you can see what you are getting before you buy.
The point of this is that you may discover that you want to modify your sound before inserting it and there are ways to do that. For instance, I wanted to cut out some episode specific voice stuff from the Daily Double sound I had found. Using Wavepad, I was able to cut all but a second or two of the talking out and then fade quickly over that second or two so that all you really hear is the Daily Double sound when the slide opens.
Attaching Your Sound to an Animation
The actual insertion of the sound can happen two different ways (there are probably more but these are the ones I tend to use). One way is to attach it to an animation effect. I used this option to get the magic sound to show up on each of the Topic slides. To make it happen, I attached an “Appear” animation to the slide title and set it so that it would run as soon as the slide ran.
Specifically, if you look closely at the screen shot above, you will notice that:
- Animation “0” is associated with the “Round Diagon…” which is the shape behind the title,
- The animation is the “Fade” animation (the star shape is the icon for that and is highlighted in the tool bar and also appears with the animation in the Animation Pane on the right side of the window), and
- The timing is set to “Start with Previous” (upper right side of the tool bar), which means it will start when the slide loads.
To add a sound to the “Fade” animation, you need to click on it in the Animation Pane and then select “Effect Options” from the drop-down menu that shows up.
When you do that, you will get a dialog box that allows you to navigate to your sound and attach it to the animation effect.
If you play around with the other tabs on the “Appear” dialog window, you will discover you can control if the sound repeats, runs through several slides, etc.
Inserting Your Sound Directly in a Slide
Adding a sound to an animation effect can make it easier to sequence it if there are a number of steps in the animation. But if you just want the sound to play with the slide, then you can also insert the sound directly in the slide. That’s how I added the Jeopardy theme to the opening slide.
To do that, you use the “Insert” menu and select “Audio” and then “Audio from File”.
You can then navigate to your sound file of choice …
… and when you make your selection, a little gray speaker shows up on the slide. If you open up the Animation Pane and select the sound animation, you will see that you have options very similar to any other animation that let you control what happens when the sound runs.
I also set the slide transition time to match the length of the sound effect so that the slide automatically goes to the next slide when the sound is done. You can do this from the “Transitions” menu.
If you look closely at the screen shot above, you will notice that:
- The transitions menu is active, and
- I have selected no special transition (“None” is highlighted), which means that when the slide moves to the next one, the next slide will appear immediately vs. dissolving or fading in, and
- I have set the transition to occur automatically after 15 seconds (highlighted in blue in the upper right hand corner of the screen shot) in addition to transitioning on a mouse click.
Nothing magic about the 15 seconds; it happens to be how long my Jeopardy Theme Song sound clip is.
The one thing about this approach is that if you run the slide, the little gray speaker will be there. That’s in case you wanted to be able to click it to make the sound run. But if you automated it, then its ruining your otherwise beautiful graphic. In PowerPoint 2007, one of the tabs in the “Effects Options” dialog box let you “Hide Sound During Show”. In PowerPoint 2010, that option is still there but grayed out for some reason I have yet to fathom.
But, you can solve it in a less elegant way by simply dragging the icon off the slide.
The effect will still play and the slide will still fill the screen with out displaying the icon.
Making the Game Board Appear to Fill Up
When a Jeopardy game starts, there is this little computer like sound and the game board fills up. It turns out that it’s not that hard to make it look like that his happening with the PowerPoint game board slide using a fairly simple automation technique.
Basically, you create a little rectangular shape that is colored the same color as the table and is smaller than a cell. Then you assign a “Fade” exit automation to it, set it to “Run After Previous” and give it a fairly short Duration; on my computer, about 00:06 seconds makes it work out just about right with the fill the board sound that I am using.
Once you have set up one shape, you just copy and paste that shape at random, over the various cells in the table until they are all covered.
Since each square is set to disappear after the one previous to it in the animation sequence, and since you placed them randomly, when the slide runs, it creates the illusion of point values filling up the board at random, pretty much in sync with the “fill the board” sound if you get the timing set just right.
Making a Score Card
I figured that the score card was a good Excel application. I checked into trying to make a table in PowerPoint that would let you edit values during a show. And while I suspect someone who was a VBA genius could make it happen, the PowerPoint Tables do not appear to support formulas let alone working formulas that run during a presentation.
I did discover (I think) that you can create a table in Word, which would support a formula, and then insert it into PowerPoint. But still, no real time update.
If you create a table in Excel, you can insert it into PowerPoint to and if you insert it with links, it will update when Excel updates but only when you re-open the PowerPoint; in other words, no real time interface.
I did find a little free application that will do the update if the PowerPoint show is running and makes a loop. But if you are static on a slide our bouncing between slides, like the Jeopardy game does, no update.
And, I think for about $90, you could get an application that would do it called EZPaste. But I didn’t feel I needed it that badly and didn’t have a business need, so I passed.
Instead, I created the spreadsheet scorecard in Excel …
… and then added a hyperlink to the spreadsheet from the game board slide.
When you click on the “Go To Score Card” box, the spreadsheet opens and you can make changes as appropriate to the current state of affairs in the game and save your data. Then, when you minimize the spreadsheet, you are back to the game board slide. Close enough I figured.
Copies of Our Files
You may have noticed that the screen shot above is not the same PowerPoint slide deck that I had been using as my example up that point. That’s because the image is from the latest version of the slide deck Steve and I created, starting with the template we are talking about. It has all of the features I have discussed and seems to work, at least on my computer. It is a PowerPoint 2010 file, so I also saved it as a PowerPoint 97-2003 file and both are on my Google Documents account, shared to the public, along with the Scorecard file in a Excel 2010 version and an Excel 97-2003 version.
Hopefully, if nothing else, they will serve as a starting point for you to create the kind of fun Steve created for our family, with a little automation help from me.
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering