Adobe enters the arena of Web animation tools with LiveMotion 1.0, a tool that's used to create vector-based animation for Web delivery. Many of the animation-specific features are based on Adobe's After Effects, long a dominant player in the field of motion graphics and animation. If you've used After Effects, you'll feel comfortable immediately with LiveMotion.
In many ways, LiveMotion is a better tool for creating vector-based animation than Macromedia's Flash, its very popular competitor. Using a timeline/keyframe metaphor, LiveMotion makes it easy to animate the properties of an object over time. Position, scale, opacity, and rotation all can be controlled with relative ease. It's also painless to create HTML elements, such as animated rollovers for menus and graphics.
However, if you come from a Flash background, you might be a bit disappointed with LiveMotion. For starters, there are no scripting features. Also, LiveMotion's compression isn't quite as good as that of Flash. In a test in which the same animation was exported from both Flash and LiveMotion, the .swf file that was created by LiveMotion was about 15 percent larger. Because file size and download rates are so critical to Web-based graphic design, it's important to be aware of this type of issue.
Despite these shortcomings, we found it easier to draw and animate by using LiveMotion. Superior (in both form and function) Bezier drawing tools make it a snap to set up ready-to-animate graphics. Again, Adobe has kept LiveMotion's "feel" in the family by ensuring that the drawing functions are very similar to those of Illustrator.
If you're looking to create high-quality, interactive Web content, Flash might be the way to go, especially if you're more familiar with Macromedia's look and feel. However, if animation--and not interactivity--is the goal, and you have experience with Adobe's other products, LiveMotion should be a good fit. All in all, this is a very good first release. --Mike Caputo--This text refers to the Mac version of this software.