Let's break down Ulead GIF Animator 5's primary features:Editing
GIF Animator 5 makes it fairly easy to edit your animations. There is a learning curve as some things are in odd places, but once you've played with it a bit you will quickly start enjoying it. You can also take a test drive with the Trial version first.
There are a lot of settings to work with, and this is made easier by a series of Wizards that guide you through most tasks.
There is a good range of export formats included in version 5, including GIF, SWF, and PSD, as well as various video (AVI, MPEG, etc.) and miscellaneous (UFO, etc.)
The program's compatibility with multiple formats is a big advantage over most competitors, including Adobe Flash (which only allows you to export in GIF, Flash format, or MOV).
GIF Animator 5 also has scope for changing the export settings, resolutions, quality, frame rate, and so on, to meet your needs.Optimization
You can optimize GIFs using the program, too; GIF Animator's value increases when used in conjunction with other animation programs that produce excessively large GIF files. Adobe Flash, for example, can export projects as GIF files and these are often packed with detail that really push file sizes up, which can render them useless with most applications.
GIF Animator 5 allows you to import these files and optimize them before saving them again. You can remove or reduce a number of aspects, including:
- Picture quality (by cutting down the number of colors in each image).
- Dither value (higher Dither values mean better quality pictures but were unnecessary for my stick men animations).
- Redundant pixels between frames (cutting out unnecessary data in the image).
- Comment blocks (not something many programs offer).
The optimization wizard (which guides you through the above steps) helped me optimize my test animation by 68 percent, cutting it down by hundreds of Kilobytes. Even if you haven't animated with this program, you can optimize with it, which is a really useful feature.
This feature certainly isn't GIF Animator 5's strong point and you have to take some care to ensure that you aren't chopping up your media when it's imported. It seems to drop a couple of frames here and there if you've set the frame rate wrong for a video (although this is rare and you need to have gone really wrong for this to happen) and media can have a habit of being cropped.
Resizing is a little difficult too and this function could certainly be improved. You can free transform which allows you to either distort your image or resize it by typing in an exact pixel size (this scales it exactly) but you have to guess the right size and then use the transform tool from here.
It's easy to drag things around and you can import a wide range of files. I would try and stay away from WMV and files with DRM and codecs as it isn't too keen on those - but still offers great functuality. Does a better job of importing than Adobe Flash CS3 and you CAN add sound to your clips, contrary to some comments made by users.
Overall, Ulead developers have created a number of very nice touches to the features in GIF Animator 5.