By: Geetesh Bajaj
Animated GIFs aren't as omnipresent as they once were - it's been a part of an evolution. In a bandwidth starved world, they were an easy way to add impact to a page. Bandwidth issues are still relevant - but nowadays many mainstream sites only use animated GIFs if they can add value to a design. That doesn't mean that animated GIFs aren't popular - there are whole sites online which are dedicated only to animated GIFS and a slew of new software which make creating them very easy.
Maybe you don't want to go through all the trouble of creating your own animated GIFs - there are so many of them available online - free for you to choose and use. Many more come with clipart collections such as the Corel Gallery line. Even Microsoft includes a huge bundle of them with products like FrontPage and Publisher.
Animated GIFs have been long associated with web pages, but that's changing - show time software like Microsoft PowerPoint and Macromedia Director have embraced the animated GIF format.
Although there's no dearth of free and commercial animated GIF creation programs - newer applications are being introduced all the time across various computing platforms.
A generation of understated animated GIFs is relieving the format of the 'flashy' reputation long associated with it.
Options to create your animated GIFs include:
- Animated GIF software like Ulead GIF Animator, Matchware Visual
GIF Animator, GIF Construction Set, etc.
- Mainstream image editors like Corel PhotoPaint, Corel Painter, etc.
- Plug-in architecture programs like Ulead GIF-X, AutoFX Webvise
- Web Design software like Macromedia Flash, Totally Hip Web Painter, Xara X, etc.
You can download many animated GIFs for free from resources online. A few of them are listed below:
- The Animated
GIF Artists Guild does not provide free downloads but they
have a lot of quality work available apart from a discussion forum.
- Microsoft's Design
Gallery Live offers many animated GIFs as part of their offerings.
Animations offers more than 2000 high quality free three dimensional
Builder - Animation Factory has over 30,000 free animated GIFs
you can use in web pages, email and presentations. They also have
of The Day, where you can download a new animated GIF daily.
G Shaikun has over 1,400 free animated GIFs available for download.
Animations has around 20,000 free animated GIFs offered for download.
Library is home to 4,000 animated GIFS - you can also use their
Postcard Station to send digital postcards.
- ClipArtConnection has
free animated GIFs to download in over 25 categories.
Animations has more than 300 animated GIFs for free download.
The Edge has a free collection of animated GIFs in various styles.
- ScreamDesign has
many freebies for you to download including animated GIFs.
Suryana's animated GIFs are very comprehensive in their range.
Animated Flags features 3D animated waving flags from all over
- Bellsnwhistles.com has
a huge collection of animated GIFs for free download.
- Jo's World has many cute animations available for free download.
A great deal of this site is dedicated to PowerPoint users - and PowerPoint 2000 and 2002 do support inserting and playing animated GIFs. Unfortunately, PowerPoint 97 never supported animated GIFs - this would not have been such a problem apart from the fact that Microsoft never released a PowerPoint 2000 or 2002 Viewer - thus all the animated GIFs you insert in these PowerPoint versions appear as static GIFs to an audience viewing the presentation using the old PowerPoint 97 Viewer. Nevertheless, such animated GIFs work perfectly in PowerPoint presentations you save in the new PowerPoint HTML format.
Even for users of earlier versions of PowerPoint, there are workarounds - the easiest of them involves converting an animated GIF to an AVI file. However, the AVI format does not support the transparency or looping features of the animated GIF format.
To convert an animated GIF with a transparent background to an AVI file would entail colouring the background to a colour which would match the background of your PowerPoint presentation. Although many programs can convert a GIF file to an AVI - there are at least three programs which allow you to easily change the background colour.
Corel PhotoPaint is bundled with all versions of CorelDRAW and opens animated GIFs directly - you could save the output to AVI, MPEG or QuickTime.
Animation Shop is a product which Jasc bundles with its Paint Shop Pro.Animation Shop is also sold alone and allows you to convert a GIF to an AVI.
Totally Hip Software's WebPainter program is another option. The newer version has a lot more options, but version 1 is available as a free download from the .net magazine's site at: http://www.netmag.co.uk/fullproducts.asp.