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Animation Tutorial

by Anna McMillan and Emily Hobson

Anna McMillan and Emily Hobson are both former HotWiredans. Emily is a firm believer in consistent tipping of bartenders and hair stylists. Anna is a designer at Red Industries and owns a cat named Pixel.

In these modern days, Web animators may not have to spend 17 hours hand painting cells to make Dopey wink, but bandwidth, platform, and browser issues make animation for the Web its own special hell. Anna and Emily have navigated many circles of this hell, and they make animation ... well, if not easy, then easier.

The dynamic duo start off by giving profiles of the main animation technologies out there, before moving on to explain, in detail, how to use them.

The first stop is a gold mine of tips, tricks, and workarounds for the limited, but oh-so-accessible, GIF89 animation platform. Next comes a look at Dreamweaver, a program that puts the "d" in dHTML. Dreamweaver and dHTML give the people what they want: indexability, updatablity, interactivity, and quick-downloadability. If you're ready for Flash (the vector-based Macromedia animation technology), Anna sets you up with an equipment check and shares hints about drawing and animating in Flash.

But good animation isn't just about technology - the most important element is, simply, good design. Anna and Emily delve into several design theories to use as guidelines for your animations, examining elements like light, shape, motion, and speed.

The animania wraps up with advice about adding good audio to your animations without hogging bandwidth, and a look at style. Every animation needs a sense of style, whether it's made out of clay, puppets, drawing and painting, 3-D, or even sand, and it's not too late to develop your own.


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