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Group test: what's the best web-animation software?

The best software for web animators

PC Advisor reviews the best web animation software packages.

5. Adobe Fireworks CS4

Adobe Fireworks CS4
  • Reviewed on: 6 October 08
  • RRP: £252.92 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 0 out of 10

Fireworks CS4 came out in beta form earlier this year. With a revamped interface, Smart Guides, and ability to export clickable prototypes into an interactive PDF, it's a worthy upgrade.

4. Adobe Photoshop CS5

Adobe Photoshop CS5
  • Reviewed on: 13 April 10
  • RRP: From £643 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Adobe Photoshop CS5 has lots of little tweaks, enhancements, and improvements that add up to smoother workflow, greater convenience, and more creative potential for those who use Photoshop day in and day out. If you're still using CS3, combining the advances of CS4 with CS5 makes upgrading an easy decision. If you are currently using CS4, moving up to CS5 could save you some time and effort - especially if your regular tasks include masking and cloning. If you are into painting, the new Mixer Brush may be enough to make the upgrade worthwhile. And if you do a lot of low-light photography, in which noise is a problem, the fact that Camera RAW 6 won't be available to CS4 users is very compelling. However, moving from CS4 to CS5 it isn't one of those mandatory, can't-avoid-it decisions for other Photoshop users who are satisfied with their current workflow and toolset. As usual, Photoshop and the rest of Creative Suite 5 are available in a somewhat confusing array of packages. But when you stop to read what each contains, it becomes a clear issue of deciding just what programs you need (or want) and which ones you don't. You can buy Photoshop CS5 Standard or Extended as stand-alone applications.

3. Anime Studio Debut

Anime Studio Debut
  • Reviewed on: 6 August 09
  • RRP: £25 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 7 out of 10

Well designed and easy to use, Anime Studio Debut is a good program for budding animators.

2. Adobe Flash CS4 Professional

Adobe Flash CS4 Professional
  • Reviewed on: 6 October 08
  • RRP: From £574 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 0 out of 10

Between the restructuring of animation paths and Motion Editor-centered animation controls, Flash CS4 is whole new world for animators, with features that are both more intuitively cohered to the whole CS4 logic, and more powerful. Other animation enhancements include the Bone tool that applies Inverse Kinetics for powerful control over cartoon-style motion, and limited 3-D simulation.

1. Adobe Creative Suite 5

Adobe Creative Suite 5
  • Reviewed on: 13 April 10
  • RRP: £2,700 inc VAT for Master Collection
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

So is Adobe Creative Suite 5 a must-buy? That all depends on your needs. In CS4, Adobe seemed to concentrate on improving integration between its applications. This time round, the focus is on improving each individual app, and the decision over whether this is a must-have upgrade for you or not depends on how much you will benefit from the special new tools of each program. Some, such as Roto Brush in After Effects or the Gap tool and Split Columns in InDesign, promise to be huge timesavers. Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill also offers a quick way to carry out a common task, while the new brushes it shares with Illustrator which mimic real paint effects will have a big impact on the digital art scene. Many will benefit from the ability to explore iPhone app development in Flash. Other changes, such as the move to 64-bit for After Effects and Photoshop for Mac, offer a big enough performance boost to convince many a wavering creative.

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