2.11 What type of animation?
The type of animation technique you decide to make will largely depend on the software available to you. There are a number of different file formats for animation.
Two of the most widely used of these are animated GIFs and Flash/ShockWave (SWF) movies.
Animated GIFs (Frame-by-frame or stop frame
As a novice, this is the simplest form of animation to learn. You can make animated GIFs with both Serif PhotoPlus bitmap-editing software and Serif DrawPlus vector-drawing software.
Although editable DrawPlus files are vector and so are scaleable, the exported GIF format is raster (bitmap) based and is not.
Animated GIFs created with vector-drawing software like DrawPlus have the advantage of much smaller file sizes than bitmap animations.
Section 3 demonstrates how to make animated GIFs using DrawPlus.
Animated GIFs have the following characteristics:
- 256 colours
- block colours
- support transparency, so graphics can appear to be irregular shapes
- display a series of images sequentially i.e.frame-by-frame
- can be looped to play a fixed number of times or continuously
- easy to use
- widely supported by web browsers
- good for short animations
- no interactivity, so users cannot control / start / stop
- no sound
This technique makes static objects seem to move by montaging a sequence of still images where the
object or character is moved slightly from frame to frame. This type of animation can take a variety of
- from the celebrated cartoons of Nick Park's Aardman Animations like Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts: http://www.aardman.com/
- to claymation characters such as Tony Hart's Morph: http://www.morphfiles.com/
- or pixelation animations like Norman McLaren's acclaimed experimental films like Le Merle, The Blackbird, 1958: and his Oscar-winning animation called Les Voisins, Neighbours, 1952 (may need to click on the link to "revert to the old player" if these videos won't load)
You can create stop motion animation with Serif MoviePlus.
Flash (Keyframe animation)
Since its introduction in 1996 The Flash/ShockWave format has become the industry standard for adding animation and interactivity to web pages. Originally developed by Macromedia and now owned by Adobe, it also supports multimedia content like audio and video playback. Adobe Flash® comprises a player, a file format (SWF or ShockWave Flash) and an authoring tool or program.
Flash allows web designers to create and develop animations and interactive movies or images that can be embedded into a web page and is commonly used to create animated 'splash' screens or introductions to a CD, DVD or website, animated advertisements, and interactive web-page components like buttons and navigation bars.
Since the release of version X2, Serif DrawPlus has been able to generate files in the SWF format. With it you can create media-rich interactive keyframe animations and export them as Flash movies.
Flash animations also have these features:
- fully scalable without loss of detail
- relatively small file sizes
- sequential, complex, smooth tweening* between key frames (* The following Fact File gives an explanation of tweening)
- ActionScript allows designers to create interactive content
- supported by most browsers via the free Flash Player plug in (Although not currently playable on mobile Apple devices such as iPhone and iPad)
- features to provice accessibility for people with disabilities
The tutorials and exercises in Section 3 show you how to create an animated GIF or frame-by-frame animation in Serif DrawPlus.
Those in Section 4 explain how to make a key frame or Flash animation.