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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Thursday, September 07, 2006  

Using the Atlas in a Presentation

And now for something completely different . . .

Okay, I know if you're not anywhere near any of the upcoming training seminars, the last thing you want is for me to keep blogging about them, so let's switch gears and blog on something that may be useful to a broader audience. A user recently asked me about using the Atlas in a presentation, so here are a few tips on how to do it:

Prepare your maps in advance: Choose the map background, sites, regions, and routes you want displayed.

Keep in mind that if you use a dark map background such as Satellite, you'll want to adjust the color of the labels in your site, route, and region layers so that they appear in a light color like white or yellow. Otherwise, there won't be enough contrast and the labels will be hard to read. Lighter color schemes, such as Light Browns or Colors work fine with darker labels.

Make sure your maps aren't cluttered with lots of labels. For example, Major Biblical Sites is probably better for presentation purposes than All Biblical. Major Biblical Sites is set up to display only those sites which have been given a 4 or 5 rating on an "importance" scale of 1 to 5. To reduce the number of sites which appear even further, you could select "Define Site Layers..." from the Sites pop-up menu and modify this layer so that it only shows sites with an importance of 5.

Another option is to create a Custom Site layer, which only shows those sites which you pick from a list of all available sites. This is useful when you want to display something like first-century Judea and you want to include Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Emmaus. Bethlehem and Emmaus would be excluded from a site layer which only shows the most important sites, so a custom site layer lets you display only the sites you want and none of the ones you don't.

Use Animated Routes: To me, animated routes are the coolest thing about the Accordance Bible Atlas. Sure, doing a 3-D fly-through is very cool, but seeing a Biblical journey or battle unfold across the map really helps you to see what is being described in the text. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of animated routes:

Use "No Faded Route" Animation: The default way that animated routes are drawn across the map shows a faded preview of all the lines which will be drawn, and then those lines get filled in with a brighter, more vivid version of the line.

That's okay, and with Quartz rendering in OS X it looks a lot better now than I remember it looking in the past. But I want drama! So I prefer to remove this faded preview so that I can watch as the route unfolds. Like this:

To get this look, you need to use the one keyboard shortcut you absolutely must learn: command-T. In the Set Map Display dialog, you'll see a pop-up labeled "animation." Just change this from Normal to No Faded Route and click OK. (You may want to click Use as Default if you want to use this look all the time.) Now your animated routes will be reminiscent of those maps in Raiders of the Lost Ark which showed Indiana Jones traveling to Tibet, then Egypt, then across the Mediterranean. What other Bible software gives you that? ;-)

Learn to Use the Animate Checkbox: When presenting an animated route, don't be a passive spectator. Use the animate checkbox to start and stop the animation at appropriate points. In the animated route of the Battle of Gibeon pictured above, I would typically uncheck the Animate button right at the point where the five kings of the Canaanites have started their siege of Gibeon. I would talk about that briefly, explaining that the Gibeonites sent word to Joshua at Gilgal requesting help. I would then check the Animate box again and show the blue line representing Joshua coming over from Gilgal and defeating the Canaanites. I would uncheck the box at that point to talk about the sun standing still and all the details of the battle, before checking the box once more to show Joshua pursuing the fleeing Canaanites "along the road to Beth-Horon." Using the animate checkbox in this way lets you control the animation and focus your audience's attention on a particular sequence.

Another little trick with the animate checkbox is to option-click it whenever you don't want to wait for the animation to finish. If the animation starts and you want to give an overview first, simply hold down the option key while unchecking the box. The completed route will immediately be displayed and the animation stopped. If you check the box again, the animation will resume from the point it was at when you option-clicked to stop it. This little enhancement was added in version 6.6.

Boy, I've gone on for quite some time and I still haven't even started talking about using the Atlas in conjunction with Accordance 7's Slideshow feature! I'll have to talk about that in a future post. In the meantime, I hope this helps get you started thinking about how you can use the Atlas as a visual aid during a presentation.

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