Colwich Computer Club. 

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GIF Animations

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Not only can still pictures be manipulated with your computer, but it is also possible to create animated pictures. Some years ago Microsoft made available a simple GIF Animation programme designed, I believe to work with Windows 95 (Called simply GIF Animator). However I ran this programme quite successfully on Windows 98 and was told it would work with XP. The programme has a very small basic display into which you import pictures. These can then be placed into order, timed and manipulated as to their final display. Controls are very limited with this programme and handling capacities are small, but it will produce a respectable moving image with practice. The animation will be in GIF format which is universally acceptable to all computers, but when viewing animated pictures you must remember that most programmes will only show them as a still image. The file display in MY COMPUTER viewed as a filmstrip (On XP and earlier, but not VISTA) will show the moving image as will various Internet programmes and a few other programmes such as Power Point;- Word files most definitely will not show moving images. If you save a Gif animated picture into a Word document the picture will display, but basically becomes a single frame image and loses its animation.

There are many other programmes in the shops and others available to download over the Internet that will make cartoon images, such as SCRATCH. This is aimed at fairly young children, with the movement of components of the picture to be created, organised by simple commands, that are put to together and interlaced like “Building Bricks.” The idea of this programme is to teach the children how to structure their thoughts in a fun way with the use of cartoon characters. Perhaps the programmes creators hope to encourage budding computer programmers, but even if this was their intention it is still a fun programme.

Flash is another programme that can be used to make "Flashing" or moving images and is part of the Adobe/Macromedia stable of programmes. Flash is being used for images more and more on the Internet, but Flash displays/pictures will only work if the surfer has Flash installed on their computer, (FLASH viewer available as a free download) so this can be a big drawback. (Test Your Internet Connection Speed Here.)

Many web-sites include Popup adverts that are often animated, but a lot of modern internet programmes have the built in ability to block them. Other video animations can be made using Windows Movie Maker that will produce W.M.V. files, that is simply a video made of still images strung together like an old Movie Film.

Often picture handling programmes will have the facility built in to them to convert still images into moving ones. This is true of some of the programmes produced by Serif of Nottingham. Serif sell a range of picture programmes to do a range of things, but the one with the best animation properties, in my opinion, is Draw Plus 8. This is extremely user friendly and very versatile giving the option to mix text and pictures easily. Controls are comprehensive and easy to apply, allowing variation in the individual timed frame display and overall timing. Text manipulation is very much as you would find in any other text handling programme with control over fonts, size, colour, etc. The picture handling is first class as you would expect because the animation is actually part of a picture handling programme anyway. Files can be saved in various ways as ongoing work or as a final picture animation. You are already familiar with Photo Plus 11 made by Serif. This has the similar animation facilities as Draw Plus 8, but is more advanced. With Draw Plus you can't open an existing GIF Animation, but with Photo Plus 11 you can open any GIF animation from any source just as you would when adding/altering any normal file in any other programme.

Just to illustrate the various applications for GIF animations here are a few I did earlier. The first 3 are purely for fun.



P.S. To view the start of the above animations and the timers below you will probably need to refresh this web page and scroll down quickly to the animations before they run their course and come to the end of their animation.

The next few are purely functional with a 60 and 30 second countdown timer (In 10 and 5 second increments) and a flashing enter site notice to draw attention to where a surfer should look for a link on a web-site. Below these are two 20 Second timers, one decreasing and one increasing, divided by a flashing warning sign.

                                

The next 2 are very definitely adverts, that because of their flashing nature, again draw attention to what they have to say. The first, the Web-site building advert, can put over quite a bit of information in a small display box as the image is made up of several frames.

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