ROVIN' AND RAVIN' WITH MIKE
Copyright © 2004 by Michael Segers, All rights reserved
Brought to you by Peanut.org
Amazingly Free Animations for Your Website
Recently, as I've been revising these articles, I've noticed how many Internet freebies have disappeared over the years. At the same time, I have discovered two great programs to add sophisticated animations to a web page... and they are absolutely free! You won't believe your eyes (or your checkbook) when you see what you can do with these two amazing programs in just a few minutes.
By the way, although this page is about animations, it is fairly lifeless. I have already used these programs to enhance other articles. So, instead of creating new animations for this page, I'll just suggest you click on the links to open the selected articles in a new window.
I suppose the best thing I can say about Powerbullet Presenter is that I used it to create the first graphic on the Rovin' and Ravin' homepage, so, obviously, I think it is pretty good. Here is a secret: that graphic was the first animation I created with Powerbullet, and I worked on it about fifteen minutes, learning how to use a very few of the many options the program provides.
So, not only free but also easy! Can you beat it? Things only get better. I also used it for the contents page of the largest group of articles, the film reviews. This graphic uses a font that I like but that I cannot usually use on a web page.
As I learned the hard way, when I began designing web pages, you have to stick with basic fonts, because when the page is loaded into a computer, if that computer does not have that font in place, then the computer's default font (most often Times New Roman) is used.
Powerbullet processes any font, making it just one more visual element in the whole presentation. As you can see, that gives you a great palette of typographical effects to draw on.
You can combine graphics. To an article on spring, I added a Powerbullet presentation based on a photograph of a hibiscus that I had taken in my back yard about a year ago. And Powerbullet takes one of St. EOM's paintings to levels even that visionary never imaged.
You aren't limited to just a graphic; in fact, you can create pretty snazzy e-booklets with turning pages. Here's an example of a photo album I created. It's nice enough with the special effects, but to save on the download time, I left out the sounds I originally included.
And, as amazing as this program is, the most amazing thing of all is that it is FREE. There aren't even any ads anywhere in any step of the program or the finished product. I have too many times bought software that left me shaking my head, wondering why I spent money on it. Powerbullet Presenter leaves me shaking my head, wondering why its creators (who even maintain an informative website and forum) don't charge for it.
So, before they read this and perhaps change their minds, visit their site, and get it while you can. Now, quickly read the other column and download the other program, because with "prices" like these, these deals can't last forever!
Advanced Effect Maker
I use only one graphic that I have developed with Advanced Effect Maker in these pages, but it is used many, many times, on every one of my movie pages, in fact. So, I have many choices for links. How about the most memorable film I reviewed? Or, the final year of the Golden Goobers, the Rovin' and Ravin' yearly film awards?
Or, doggone it, why don't I just show it to you here?
Those are real, live links, so when you click on them, they will take you to the designated pages. (Unlike other links on this page, they do not open a new window; you will need to click the back arrow to come back to this page.)
This is even less representative of how advanced this Advanced Effect Maker is than my Powerbullet creations were of that program's options. Menus are just one of quite a range of options (and you are given a variety of menus besides).
Like Powerbullet Presenter, Advanced Effect Maker also creates a web page so that you know how to get your effect onto your page.
Some of the slideshows begin with an unobtrusive reminder of the company that... oh, well, with a small advertisement, which would not be a problem for personal websites.
You can buy a version of Advanced Effect Maker that has even more bells and whistles (and probably a cannon or a waterfall or two) without the occasional ad.
The choice is up to you, but again, check the site to consider all the possibilities that this great program opens up to you. And, if you want a little more, visit Mandomartis, the folks that created Advanced Effect Maker and probably have a few more surprises for us.
Speaking of surprises, here are two for you, a puzzle created with Advanced Effect Maker, based on a picture that you can see elsewhere in R&R. It took me less than five minutes to create this puzzle, and most of my time was spent choosing among all the options in the program. I could have added numbers to the pieces, but I thought it would be more fun without them. I can create the puzzle from three to seven pieces across. Click on a square adjacent to the blank to move it there, and if you want to cheat....
Since we are all about free this time, how about a final gift from me to you? Links on this page to other Rovin' and Ravin' pages have opened the page in a new window, which you can close. Links off this site (the links in the last paragraph about each program) go to the next page, and you have to use the back arrow to return to this page. How does that happen?
If you click on "View" and then select "Source," you will see all the wonderful instructions embedded into this page to tell your computer what to do. A link typically looks like this (the link to the Mandomartis site):
Any link begins <a href= and ends </a>. All elements in the source code have beginnings and ends, the ends marked by the slash. Now, let's look at the link to the article about the memorable film:
<a href="monstbal.htm" target="free"> film</a>
The one addition here is target="free". That is the name of a frame that does not really exist, causing your browser to open the linked page in a new window. The URL or address of the page is just monstbal.htm because it is on this site, in the same directory.
How did I know to name the made-up target "free"? Well, since it does not exist, I could name it anything I want to. On some pages, the target is "peanut" and on others "parrot." But the effect is the same. If I used different names for the targets of different links, I could have each link's window open separately, and that can get messy.
A final gift from me is a word of advice. These two wonderful programs, Advanced Effect Maker and Powerbullet Presenter, have my unqualified recommendation. If you go out to admire the full moon tonight, you just may hear me howling the names of these programs. But, use the resulting graphics with care, common sense, and good taste.
Too many of them can slow your page down (especially for those of us who are still living in the dial-up age), and no matter how good they may be, they cannot take the place of the noble thoughts with which I always encourage you to fill your hearts, as you travel through cyperspace and other spaces, keeping your feet dry... and your eyes out for a bargain.
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