Web Animation

The Web makes it relatively easy to provide multimedia presentations to remote users. Artists can show their works to viewers around the world; corporations can provide interactive information to their customers.

In addition to music and voice instructions, the Web provides access to various forms of animation: digital movies, moving images, animated applets and live video plugins.

Common formats for digital movies include Microsoft's AVI, Apple's Quicktime and MPEG, which are supported by most Web browsers, either directly, or via plugin.

An increasingly common animated image format is animated GIF. Unlike digital movie formats, these do not support sound and tend to be large -- however, they are relatively easy to create and modify. The most popular web browsers support animated GIFs.

An older method of providing animation on the Web was "client pull" and "server push". Client pull involved having the Web browser periodically retrieve a new web page; server push involved having the Web server keep the HTTP connection open and periodically refresh the Web page. Both of these methods are server-intensive and are used in only limited circumstances today.

Animation can also be made available on the Web via browser applets. An ActiveX or Java applet can retrieve a series of static images from a server and combine them into an animated presentation on a visitor's Web browser. While this tend to be slow, it is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to post dynamic images on the Web.

Finally, specialized plugin applets can display live images from a video camera. A number of inexpensive live video options are now becoming available.

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