Macromedia and Adobe rule the professional Web-graphics market, but many consumers who dabble in Web design can't afford those companies' industry-standard applications. Smaller outfits are now offering budget-minded alternatives; Beatware's e-Picture Pro ( Reviews, November 2000), for example, gives you most of the power of Macromedia Flash for a fraction of the price. And eZ-Motion 1.0.1-a scaled-down version of e-Picture Pro-is designed for newcomers to animation; however, its powerful 3-D capabilities will appeal to pros as well.
eZ-Motion is a vector-based program for creating Web graphics and animations. You can use the program's tools to create graphical objects and import artwork in standard file formats. Once you've placed an object on the "canvas" and set keyframes for its attributes, eZ-Motion interpolates the frames between your keyframes. The program includes live effects similar to Adobe Photoshop's Layer Styles, as well as keyframeable filters offering strong control over individual color channels.
Playback from within the program is jerky, so you'll probably have to render tests as you work to check the timing. If you need to retime portions of your animation, the Animation Wizard gives you sophisticated control over adding and deleting frames. Once you've brought your artwork to life, the Export Wizard lets you experiment to find the best output format-animated GIF, QuickTime movie, Flash SWF, or RealVideo.
Animation in Depth
Where eZ-Motion really stands out is in the realm of 3-D. The program comes with an extensive collection of useful 3-D objects and primitives, and you can import objects from LightWave and DXF 3-D formats. Better still, the 3D Text tool lets you create extruded text that remains editable even with effects and filters applied. All 3-D text and objects can rotate on any axis for dynamic effects.
The program has a few quirks and interface oddities (such as opacity sliders with settings as high as 300 percent), and eZ-Motion lacks support for interactivity and audio. Still, if you don't mind the silence and simply need to create play-through animations, eZ-Motion is an excellent and economical choice.eZ Writer: eZ-Motion's 3D Text tool lets you give an exciting spin to your Web animations.