Try Texturemaker. It's not that expensive, and the add on particle editor is simple to use. With a little practice, it's easy to create loops, and it will output stuff into strips. Besides which, it's an all around good program. They let you evaluate any version for 30 days. On the other hand, it sucks for 3D particles. But it would probably fit your needs well. I on the other hand will be playing with Pyro, since BF NEEDS a nice 3D particle system. Programming those things in gets tedious.