First collect your sequence of images. Microsoft Paint is a simple program very suitable for small images. You can use photos but collecting a sequence which plays as an animation does require a lot more skill because of the number of colours involved. All images should be the same size, preferably small. In this article I have chosen a series of 15 images which I have drawn in Paint, each only 170 pixels wide by 98 pixels high. The background should be a plain colour and if the background is to be made transparent then the finished images must be saved as bitmaps (BMP). Collect all pictures to be used in one folder. The easiest animations are those where the movement is limited to two positions. Animations that require a figure to appear in several positions as for example in a four legged animal walking, it is extremely difficult and time consuming to achieve a smooth lifelike action.
Now for the program. The opening image for Ulead with the first few steps follows.
Red arrows 1,2 and 3 take you to a browse window where you can add the images you want which will appear in the wizard window .
The wizard is fairly self explanatory. Just remember that if you are using images which have photorealistic qualities and colours that need to be preserved you can specify Photo-oriented images but this will materially affect the ultimate size of the animation, possibly significantly. When the choice has been made click Next.
You can choose the speed at which the animation will run and the window will give you an example of what your selection will achieve.25 is four images a second which is pretty fast but if the final animation doesn't play at the desired speed you can start again and choose a different frame rate. Click on Next and the following image will show you have provided everything necessary to process the images.
The images should now show in the panel and the first image should be displayed. You can click on Start Preview to get an idea whether you are going to be satisfied with the action and speed of your project. The animation can be saved as is but there are a A couple of other useful steps to take.
The white background in the images can be made transparent so that when the animation is used on a coloured background or even a background picture only the principle elements of the animation will show, not the background. Step one is to click on the Transparent index as shown at Red Arrow 1. Then at Red Arrow2 the colour patch can be sampled with a click of the eyedropper. The next image will then appear.
Click again with the eyedropper in the background of the image. The background should then change to the same as the colour sample from the previous window. The colour that appears there is unimportant and may change to other colours as you work your way progressively through every image in the list. Click on OK.
This next step is very important . Change the default "Do not remove" at Red Arrow 5 to "To background colour" shown at Red Arrow 6. Having done that, repeat the process for every image in the list from Red Arrow 1 to Red Arrow 6
When all the mages have had the backgrounds made transparent go to File / Optimization Wizard as shown here by Red Arrows 1 and 2. Four self explanatory steps will follow which allow some trade-offs between saving of colours and removal of unnecessary colours from the master palette.
The Savings with the Optimisation Wizard are then displayed and the option of saving the animation presented. You can see the final size of the animation file . Using the parameters shown during this presentation the final file should look like the following image. Note that '"25" speed ( 4 frames a second ) is probably twice as fast as it should be. Save the finished animation in the same folder as the source files for future manipulation, as well as where the animation is to be actually used.
Note too that with Ulead, the animation automatically loops continuously. Some other animation programs allow for the sequence to play once only.
Animation can also be done using Windows Movie Maker. There is a severe limitation in Movie Maker to achieving rapid animations but individual frames can be exposed to view for differing periods of time which can be very useful and it is also possible with movie maker to use fade transitions between images Removing some of the jerkiness from the animation.