BoxTop ImageVise 2.0

by Joe Gillespie — May 1, 1999

You will be aware that the best way to reduce the size of a GIF file is to save it with less colours. The GIF file format is often referred to as 'lossless' as its compression technique doesn't distort an image as a JPEG does, but this is not strictly true as removing colours from an image to obtain a smaller file size is most definitely introducing a degree of loss.

The trick here is to remove colours without anybody noticing that they are missing, and that's what BoxTop Software's ImageVise is all about.

ImageVise is not a compression tool, nor is it intended to produce GIFs like its stablemate PhotoGIF. It is a Photoshop plug-in, available for Macs and PCs, that reduces the number of colours in any image (and consequently the file size). BoxTop claim file size reductions of up to 70% but this depends very much on the image type, 20% to 40% is more typical.

How it works is by reducing redundant colours intelligently. If you consider that even in the 216 colour, Web-safe palette nearly half the colours are indistinguishable from their neighbours, to all intents and purposes they are not doing anything useful. Of course, knowing which colours to leave out is another story. In an 'adaptive' palette there is usually an even higher degree of redundancy and this is where ImageVise really scores. It uses a newly developed colour mapping technique that more closely models the way that we see colours to optimise a Photoshop image at various colour depths.

Using a set of sliders, it is possible to fine-tune an image to a point where you can't see any difference, but many redundant colours have been removed. If you push it too far, then the image can look streaky or posterized so it really is a balancing act. The functions of the various sliders are not immediately obvious, they have names like, 'clipping', 'smoothing', 'convergence' and 'velocity' but a well-written and illustrated PDF manual explains how to use them to best effect. Settings that are known to work for a given type of image can then be saved so that you can build-up a set of 'pre-sets' which can be used as the starting point for processing further images.

ImageVise is not for the bash-and-crash brigade who want instant, push button results, there is a learning curve involved. It is aimed at designers who like to craft their images for smallest size and best quality and are prepared to spend a little more time and effort in doing so. If you are that type of designer, ImageVise could be just what you are looking for - try the free demo.

BoxTop Software ImageVise 2.0
Features Red 80%
Ease of Use Yellow 60%
Value for Money Green 90%
'Must Have' factor Blue 90%
Manufacturer BoxTop Software
Price $49.95 for Mac or PC
Summary Fine-tunes your GIF files for the best quality at the smallest size.!
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