We've actually been making a lot of customer loading panel graphics lately and I wanted to share some info on the tool we use.
It's called Animation Shop. I bought it years ago when it was from Jasc. Now it's by Corel: http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Corel3/Products/Display&pfid=1047024307383&pid=1047024390003
Probably the 2nd best GIF animation tool is by Ulead. It's called GIF Animator: http://www.ulead.com/ga/runme.htm
. I tried a demo of it last year and it was pretty good, just not as good as Animation Shop.
I just looked at the Ulead site and it seems they have a new add-on for GIF Animator called GIF-X.Plugin that looks very interesting. I think I'll check it out.