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MetaCreationsHeadline Studio 1.0(Part 3)

Some more of the nice features I liked about Headline Studio are its unlimited undo levels, palette manipulation, real-time preview, control over single letters of text, and post-design bandwidth decision. I just made up that last term myself, so what it means is you design your animation first, and only after it's done do you have to decide how many frames it will be, how many colors, how long it takes to complete, etc. Then when you do the actual preview, it tells you how big the final file size will be, so you can tweak any of the parameters until you get it the way you like it...without having to remove or even be aware of physical frames.

David's Dissection

There's really nothing that's a product killer here, but as with many brand new products, I found a few places where improvements could be made. Very few, in fact.
  • Headline Studio doesn't create custom palettes automatically from frames, so even though it does a good bit of optimization, there's still room for improvement. My personal favorite frame animation program, Ulead GIF Animator, was able to optimize from 10% to 40% better than Headline Studio, though it was usually in the 10% to 15% range.
  • there's no way to hit a button and turn text bold or italic...or center it, for that matter.
  • setting the background color is a bit clunky...you have to draw a rectangle, manually size and place it, then change the color of the rectangle.
  • you can make objects "jump" into place rather than moving smoothly, but the procedure isn't obvious at first glance (it's not difficult, either).
  • grabbing the timeline button isn't always easy...it's small!
  • it only imports GIF, JPG, and TIFF formats, and only exports GIF files. This is more of a theoretical limitation than a practical one, though.

Conclusions

Headline Studio is pretty slick, its text effects are unsurpassed, and it gives you an incredible amount of control over your animation. It's a lot more intuitive than frame-editing animation programs, so if you spend a lot of time creating animated banners for the Web, it will probably pay for itself in a week, if not sooner. [Jump back to the first part of this article]
This article first appeared in February, 1999.
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