|Animation – The Chili Pepper of the Web|
|The Web – A Short Introduction|
By Esther Blankenship, SAP User Experience, SAP AG
Animated GIFs are a series of static GIFs placed together side by side in so-called "frames." This sequence of frames plays a certain number of times or repeats endlessly, called "looping." Animated GIFs are loaded onto your PC when you visit a Web page. Most of the ubiquitous banner ads and small animations that you see on the Web are animated GIFs.
Flash is an authoring and playback technology (that's why the tool has the same name as the objects it creates) from Macromedia. Like Shockwave, it supports animation, audio, video and user interaction. Flash objects are usually referred to as "films," as the authoring tool uses the film metaphor in the interface - an advantage for people with a background in multimedia and cinematography. Flash is one of the most popular media for creating animation and interaction on the Web, largely because it is a vector-graphic technology, so the files load relatively quickly. Another reason for its popularity is that the tool affords the author a great deal of creative leeway and the effects can be very impressive. Flash objects can run on Windows as well as Macintosh platforms, but require a plug-in to display in your browser.
Shockwave, like Flash, is a playback technology from Macromedia. Unlike Flash, the authoring and playback tools do not have the same name. Shockwave objects are created in an authoring tool called Director. Shockwave supports animation, audio, video and user interaction. A more sophisticated tool than Flash, Director is often used to develop high-powered multimedia movies and CD-ROMs. Shockwave objects can run on Windows as well as Macintosh platforms, but requires a plug-in to display in your browser.
QuickTime was developed by Apple Computer. Although it is built into the Macintosh operating system, PCs can also run QuickTime files if they have the appropriate driver (which can be downloaded for free from the Apple Web site). QuickTime allows users to view video and animation; QuickTime VR has a three dimensional component that lets users interact with the image and move it around in a simulated 3D environment.