- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

Web sites are moving quickly beyond mere static pages into the realm of increasingly dynamic animation.
A production company specializing in active content and Web commercials, KMGI.com (www.kmgi.com) predicts a new way to create tomorrow's Web site.
"We believe the Internet is going through the first phase of a transition from the static to the dynamic page using animation," Eric Kavanagh, senior vice president of KMGI.com, said from his New York office. "Producing video using animation allows us to create engaging full-screen video that is cheaper to produce than video for television."
In its beginning, site design relied on HTML (hyper text markup language), which allows words and image to flow on a Web page. For even the most novice Web site owner, this basic language was relatively easy to master.
But Web creation is getting more complicated and designers now have a wide variety of tools to capture and retain a target audience.
Now, full-screen animation, which means essentially a Web site that plays like a movie, has come along. So rather than opening numerous pages of text, almost like flipping the pages of a book, the viewer starts a small movie.
"Because of bandwidth and latency issues, it is still unrealistic to send live-action videos over the Internet," Mr. Kavanagh said. Latency refers to the nasty combination of slow Internet connections and Net congestion that can wreak havoc with a developer's streaming designs.
"Using animation provides an answer to the latency problem, presenting a solution for the creation of on-line advertising, entertainment or educational presentations," Mr. Kavanagh said.
The Web animation design begins with an authoring tool that allows the developer to create a script, program or document that can be viewed on line.
KMGI.com's favorite software package, Flash, comes from Macromedia(www.macromedia.com) which claims its player (necessary to view Flash designs) has found a home with 250 million Internet users, or 91.8 percent of all users on line.
Its latest release, Flash 5, provides a complete authoring environment using precise element positioning and easy-to-master layout designs incorporating shapes, lines and animation.
"The Macromedia Flash authoring environment has rapidly become a standard for creating dynamic Web sites and e-commerce applications," said Jeremy Clark, product manager for Flash at Macromedia.
"With Flash 5, we have not only made the tool more approachable for designers who use standard design packages such as Photoshop, but we also added a full scripting language for advanced interactivity, which is something no other tool provides," Mr. Clark said.
If you click to the Flash-created KMGI.com site, the production team's expertise is obvious not only in their Web site design but also in the sample ads they display for clients such as the New York Post and New York Presbyterian Hospital.
One of their typical Web commercials features a quick-loading stream of information combining audio and plenty of image effects without any jerky motions, even at the lowest end of modem connections.
Recently entering the race to capture some Flash designers, graphics software powerhouse Adobe (www.adobe.com) has introduced the desktop suite LiveMotion.
Like Flash, LiveMotion is an authoring environment based on the use of the open .swf file format, but Adobe claims its product will afford designers even more flexibility and compatibility.
"Since 1995, we have been making it easier to use the tools to create a common interface, so if you can use Adobe's Photoshop, you can use Adobe's Illustrator, and that is a key focus in the development of the products," said Michael Niness, group product manager, Adobe Web Graphics.
"We strive to keep the products as simple as possible for the designer to use and LiveMotion will be the latest addition to the designer desktop."
A key difference between LiveMotion and Flash is that Adobe claims its software can retain an HTML page layout, if the designer chooses. This allows greater opportunity for an audience to be able to open, and view, a site without the need for plug-ins.
Though KMGI.com predicts a future World Wide Web filled only with animated movies, the reality is that future Web sites may contain animated elements, but they still will rely on text, or HTML.
"The .swf file format is extremely impressive, but it is not a searchable environment," said Mr. Niness. "And it is not going to replace HTML as the foundation, or box, on which Web sites are created."
Oddly enough, Even the Macromedia site contains only some elements of animation, still relying on text, and HTML, for the site's infrastructure.
Have an interesting site? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Business Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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