I have a few questions on 2D animation software:
1.) Flash vs. Alternative Software
I have a contractor animation project coming up where I need to draw a kiln cross-sectioned at various angles and animate its unique airflow. I have a lot of experience with Flash (mostly the prehistoric MX version from '02) from my medical illustration/animation days, so I'm thinking I should purchase a version of that. Once complete, I would likely have to use conversion software to create the needed video format from the SWF, but it shouldn't be too hard. However, I wanted to ask if anyone recommends alternative animation programs over Flash. I want something that allows traditional frame-by-frame animation; however, I also rely on effects in Flash like shape/motion tweening and masking effects that some software may not have (When a bunch of air is moving like a school of fish, I don't want to be dependent on drawing every single frame).
I believe the client wants the video for his website. Are there other factors I'm not taking into consideration such as narration, resolution, or file formatting?
2.) How to Create Looping GIFs/Animated Videos
I currently have Photoshop CS2 which has an Animation window. I imagine this should provide me the base capabilities to create nice looping GIFs (like this). However, if I want a broader color range (GIFs tend to get grainy in that regard) I'd also be interested in publishing short looping video animations with no color restrictions. Would this be possible in Photoshop CS2? Or would I need an additional software to convert PNG sequences from Photoshop into a video format?