Shapes and lines can be made transparent easily by increasing the transparency of the fill / line color. This setting simply does not exist for pictures and videos. Here is how you can do it – using the transparency emphasis effect.
Newer versions of PowerPoint now support a direct Transparency option for Pictures (not Videos). Choose Picture tools and open the Transparency Dropdown. You can use this option if you want to make the picture transparent throughout the presentation. If the transparency level needs to change during a presentation, use the animation approach (read below).
For Videos, there is no direct transparency button available. We must use the animation approach (read below.
Click the Transparency button to see the Gallery showing different variations of transparency with the selected picture. Hover the mouse cursor to see the effect. To finalize, click the desired level.
Using the Picture Transparency Options, you can control it precisely – between a range of 0 to 100.
Why do you need transparent pictures / videos?
Transparency means the objects behind can be visible. This feature can be very useful in making high impact presentations – giving a professional and sophisticated feel.
Conceptually, using transparency, we can show two objects in the same place. If used correctly, this can be a powerful way to convey ideas and illustrating thoughts.
Use Transparency animation from Emphasis effects and adjust the transparency level. The transparency takes effect and is visible only during the presentation.
Making shapes transparent
You may already know this, but still including it for the sake of completeness.
Line and Fill color options have a transparency slider. Zero percent transparency means the item is opaque whereas 100% transparency means the item is completely transparent.
As we have seen in the Gradients Part 2 article, specific colors in the gradient stops can also be made transparent.
Here is a quick demo of transparent line color transparency. Green arrow is 24% transparent. Fill color for shapes also works in a similar way.
Pictures and Video transparency
If you click on a picture or video and choose Format settings… you will notice that there is a fill option and the fill option DOES have transparency option. See the two pictures below. The one on top is the original one. The bottom picture has background removed – which means it is actually transparent.
That is why the bottom picture shows the blue box which is behind it through the transparent area.
Now, I am trying to both the pictures Green color but it has no effect on the top picture because there is no transparent area in it to accept the fill.
However, if I want the flower itself to be transparent so that the objects behind it are partially visible, it is not possible.
In case of videos there is no remove background option. Therefore, this type of transparency will not work.
What we really want is to keep the picture as it is and show whatever is behind it. As though the picture was printed on a transparent plastic sheet and placed in front the slide.
This is where the Animation called Transparency comes in.
Transparency using Animation
This concept works with pictures as well as videos – in fact with any object (including shapes, charts, SmartArt, text, etc)
Let us take two pictures.
The water drop is overlapping the picture of clouds and that is how it will be shown during the presentation.
Now right click on the water picture and open the Animation tab. From Add animation dropdown (it is actually called a gallery), choose Transparency effect from Emphasis area.
Run the presentation and click once to see what happens.
This is how transparency works. Now let us overlap both pictures and see what happens when you run the presentation…
Even if you had reversed their positions – put sky in front of water and made it transparent, the effect would have been the same.
Now I removed the black portion in the water drop slide and used the same transparency. This time, the black part is completely transparent showing the full colors of the sky behind, providing a better impact.
Understand the animation
Open the animation pane to see what is happening there.
The effect starts working after a click. Ideally you want this to happen automatically. So open the dropdown and choose Start with previous (previous what? Trigger – which means click or the slide itself being shown).
The effect by default is 50% but you can change the amount in effect options. If you want custom percentage, double click on the animation entry and choose the dropdown…
The effect duration is automatically set to work throughout the duration of the slide. That is controlled from the timing tab. This is what we want. So there is no need to change the setting.
Working with multiple objects
Once you understand this method, you can play with it. You can use multiple objects. Increase or decrease the level of transparency using successive clicks or combine videos and pictures together.
Use it only when it is required. It should help you in conveying the meaning or illustrating an idea better. Otherwise resist the temptation of using it just because you know how to use it.
Here is a nice presentation slide – which you can use as an opening slide – which shows clouds (picture) and water (video) merged on top of each other.
The clouds are on top and have transparency. Clouds image is bigger than the slide and has a slow line path animation to make it look as though this is also a video!Amazing effect.
To reduce the file size the videos are low resolution. But you will get the idea…
Transparency Demo Presentation (2.4 mb) Download
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Thanks for sharing. I will soon be publishing a video on youtube using this effect. Hopefully it will work great.
Hi. Sorry, this is complete crap and reminds me of the stone age. We live in 2022 now. There are several codecs which natively support alpha channel – Microsoft is a multi trillion dollar company – why don´t you just implement true alpha support from any codec? It´s a hustle since over a decade with the alpha topic. Please fix that once and forever!!!
It is correct. I don’t write the software. You should suggest it to Microsoft directly.
I couldn’t agree more Anonymous.
Now, we have direct Transparent option for pictures.
For videos, we still have to use the Emphasis – Transparency option.
Unfortunately this does not appear to work well if you are using transitions. The transparency effect only starts after the transition ends, so you see full brightness video flashed then transparency drops when it begins to play. Is there a fix for this (other than not using transitions)?
Transparency is an animation. Animation works AFTER transition is finished.
Use another animation which is similar to the desired transition.
OR Export the two slides with transition as a video, insert video in the slide and then add transparency to the overlapping object.