Questions to anyone who makes animated avatars?
What program do you use?
Does it compress and save the images in good quality?
Do you save as a .gif or other format?
Since I already own Photoshop and its web utility (which makes animations among other things), ImageReady, I use ImageReady. Yes, it compresses images and lets you control what color palatte you use. I believe it's the number of colors that really pushes up the file size, assuming you're keeping it 80x80 - I can get good images from just 25 or 30 colors per frame, I don't need to have the whole 256, but in theory if I had 10 frames that looked very different from one another, I might want 25 different
colors per frame, which means the palatte for the whole animation may actually be 250 colors or so - just not 250 in any given frame.
ImageReady also lets you choose different schemes for converting an image for the web, such as "Perceptual," "Selective" or "Adaptive." Even with the definitions from the frikken Photoshop manual, I still
don't fully grasp the difference between these schemes. Something to do with how the eye perceives color. I generally just try out all three and see how well I like each result. I usually have a hard time telling any difference at all, but for what it's worth, I generally go with "Perceptual."
And yes, I use .gif for all my animated avatars.