Beneton Movie GIF
Unfortunately, while many people would love to have their avatar doing the Hula Hoop, few have the know-how or the proper tool make it do so. Beneton Movie GIF is that proper tool. With it you can edit, compose, and apply effects to static images or sequences of images to create a GIF animation. You can even import short AVI files and convert them to animated GIFs.
BMG has a full-featured bitmap (frame) editor as well as FX such as flip, rotate, color blend, edge detect, etc. The program also provides animated FX that you can apply to a series of frames such as reverse, rotate, shrink, and distortion. You can save your animations as the ubiquitous GIF or export them as a series of single frame images, .MNG (Multiple Network Graphics--an extension of the .PNG format), or AVI (using the external pjBmp2Avi program).
Though it took me a few minutes to completely ken the process, I had a simple smiley face jumping around its little 32-by-32-pixel playground in less than half an hour. I have a minor quibble here and there (such as the inability to slow down playback of the animations and the squashed text in a dialog box), but this is a nice little piece of software. It's easy to learn and--once you understand the process--easy to use. A must have for low-budget, low-bandwidth animation aficionados.
--Jon L. Jacobi