Do you mean you want me to create an Animated GIF?


How the heck do I do that? The short answer is that there are lots, and lots, and lots of ways. There are actually lots of online automated GIF-makers, but in order to be able to progress and do more complex animations you need to learn to build them on your own using desktop tools such as GIMP, ffmpeg, and Photoshop.

The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Find a piece of video from Youtube, that you’ve shot on your phone, from a screen capture, and/or ripped from a DVD/Blu-ray. You need to get that video onto your desktop so you can work with it. There are many ways to download youtube videos, so with a little research you can figure it out.
  2. Trim the piece of video you wish to animate. It’s best to keep it short. A few seconds at the most. MPEG Streamclip and ffmpeg are both very good free video clip editors for this kind of job. You can also trim the video in Photoshop, but it’s probably better to trim first if the clip is really long.
  3. Import the video clip as layers into an image editing application such as GIMP (free) or Photoshop. You will be able to make additional changes to the duration and timing of the animation in this process by discarding frames and/or change the time duration played for frames. Also you can crop the frame if you wish so that you focus on a particular portion of the frame. Finally you can resize the pixel dimensions of the frame based on where you wish to post the GIF. This can be important for sites like Tumblr that allow a maximum pixel width of 500 px.
  4. Export your animation into the GIF format. In the export process there are possible color and dithering options as GIFs work with a limit of 256 colors. These choices affect both the appearance and final size of the GIF. Fewer colors and less dithering typically produce a smaller file size. And sometimes you need to balance between the two in order to achieve a satisfactory look as well as maintain a reasonable file size. Tumblr again restricts you to a maximum of 1MB for a GIF 500 px wide, or 2MB for a GIF 400 px wide or less.

You can find many, many tutorials online for creating GIFs of a wide variety of types. Everyone seems to have there own tweeks to the process to create them. This tutorial for the whole process using the free software GIMP is useful. As well this basic tutorial using Photoshop, basically the same version that we have in the lab, could be helpful as well. And you can add text with GIMP as well.

Either way you may feel a little like this when you’re done!


12 thoughts on “Do you mean you want me to create an Animated GIF?”

    1. This information is very helpful. I went from knowing almost absolutely nothing about GIFs to actually being excited to create a GIF. I find it very exciting and creative.

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