I recently attended an Adobe event and saw Rufus Deuchler presenting about mobile apps. As interesting as this talk was I was transfixed by the presentation he was giving because it has a moving background.

I pondered the fact that Adobe might be releasing some new presentation software where this was a feature, but when he switched from the presentation to an iPad I caught a glimpse of the presentation software, to my surprise it was nothing more than Keynote.

As a Keynote lover I thought Id explore this more fully. Heres my conclusion and workflow;

Choosing a Video

There are some video backgrounds on the internet that were first intended for DVD menu backgrounds and these work well. Giving public presentations I want to be 100% sure that Im licensed to use anything I display so, as a Creative Cloud subscriber its in my best interest to go to Adobe Stock and search there.

Ive found that for a title slide big. bold and a video with a lot of movement works really well but for the presentation itself care should be taken to keep the movement subtle enough to avoid being a distraction but busy enough that it keeps attention.

Choose the Theme

I don’t remember the last time I presented in anything but Wide but if youre not sure its a good idea to check with who youre presenting for. In this case Im going to choose Wide from the top option.

Because Im replacing the background colour with video Im only interested in the font and font colour really, although all this can be changed once Im in the editing stage. Ill choose Modern Type for this presentation.

Two Methods For Adding Video

Single Slides

To add a video to a single slide head to Insert > Choose

From the dialogue box navigate to your video, select it and click Insert.

If your video is an HD video, as mine is then itll fit perfectly into the slide, if not then use the handles around the edge to resize.

To make sure that the video is at the back of all text and images right click on it and choose Send To Back;

To prevent you choosing and moving the video while you edit right click on the video and then choose Lock;

Adding Video To A Theme

To add the video to the theme and have the video background on all slides click the Format button in the top right and then choose Edit Master Slide;

Down the left side you’ll see all the available types of slide that you can use in the theme. For the video to appear on every type of slide you’ll have to do the following on each template.

In my experience however I have found it necessary only to add the video to the background of Blank and maybe 1 or 2 others such as Bullets and Titles and Bullets. The reason for this can be found in the next section, Looping the Video.

Adding the video here is the same as for single slides, choose Insert and Choose

and navigate to the video;

And right click and Send to Back;

At this stage you can click the Done button at the bottom, but heres where you loop the video too.

Looping the Video

The controls for the Movie can be found on the right hand side, clicking the tab reveals them, this is the same if youre adding the video as on a single slide or into the theme;

At the bottom of this panel are three Repeat options; None, Loop and Loop Back And Forth.

The default is None and the other two options have their own drawbacks.

Loop: If you choose Loop the video will play through and then return to the start of the video and play. The drawback to this is that if the end frame and start frame are different theres a noticeable jump. The amount it shows will of course depend on your video but Ive found it is always noticeable to some degree.

Loop Back and Forth : This setting played the video and then plays it backwards. Theres no noticeable jump like there is with Loop but in my experience there is always a jerkiness to the video when its playing in reverse.

I always choose Loop and try to make the jump as un noticeable as possible

While were here, turn off the Start Movie on Click, theres no point in having a static background.


Heres the main trick to this. I keep as many transitions on one slide as I can. The objective is to use as less slides as you can, in fact Ill only add another slide if the background needs to change.

For this, you need to have a good working knowledge of the Animate function of Keynote. Rather than change slides you’ll need to Build In and Out all the information, this can get a little confusing.

Heres an example, this is a presentation I made at the Adobe Education Summit.

This first slide has the title of the presentation and then information about me. This one slide replaces four static slides. On the right ride you can see the Build Order of the information, how it builds in, behaves and builds out.

In Summary

  • Video backgrounds can transform your presentation but should be only as busy as they need to be.
  • Lock the video to prevent change or add it to the theme
  • Be prepared for a jump if you use Loop, pick a video where itll be less noticeable
  • Learn to control the Animation of information
  • Don’t spend longer on making the presentation than it warrants (I fall foul to this every time!)