This is an in depth tutorial on how I make gifs. There might be easier methods, but these are the steps I follow.
Required Applications for this tutorial:
- QuickTime Pro (for video clipping, if needed)
- Adobe Photoshop (I use CS4, but I know other versions are capable of gif making as well. I just don’t know which specific ones.)
- I’m sure this tutorial is Windows compatible, but I use a Mac so excuse this tutorial if it looks a little different, visually, than your Windows machine.
These are the steps I take when getting a certain video clip I want to make a gif out of. I know there are other ways to do this, but I just use QuickTime PRO which allows you to clip video files and save them as .mov file.
- Open the video file you want to make a gif from. Since my video files are large because I use whole episodes, I need to make a short video clip of the scene I want to gif. I do this by opening my video in QuickTime Pro and moving the sliders to encompass the section of the video I want to use.
- Edit -> Trim to Selection
This will trim your video to the selected duration you want.
- Save the trimmed video clip as a .mov file.
File -> Save As
- Change the file name to anything you want. I chose to use VideoClip1. It really doesn’t matter. I also choose to save them to my desktop because it’s easier to find.
- Important: Make sure to check the radio button for “Save as a self-contained movie”
- Click “Save”
- You should now have a video clip on your desktop (or wherever you chose to save it) of the section you want in .mov format.
This is where I tell you that there is a lot of trial and error when making “dash-friendly” gifs for tumblr. For a gif to be “dash-friendly” it needs to be under 500k in size and under 500px in width. So, to get a gif under 500k in size there involves a lot of playing around and tweaking. I’m going to show you the basic way to make a gif, but remember, each gif you make will vary in settings dependent upon how many frames are in your gif and the colors. When you’re working with gifs with under 10 frames, it’s easy to make them look nice and colorful. Once you start adding more it gets harder and your gifs tend to look a bit more “grainy.” If you’re wanting to gif a longer scene, it’s sometimes easier to make your gifs black and white because they will look “cleaner” when you optimize them to fit under 500k. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started on our gif.
- Open Adobe Photoshop
- File -> Import -> Video Frames to Layers
- After you click “Load” from the previous step, a window will pop up with a few options on how to load your frames.
This is where you will import the video frames. Since you don’t want every single frame in this scene, just select the frames you do want.
You do this by:
- Select the radio button for “Selected Range Only” (see above screen-shot)
- Next you want to check the box for “Limit to every _ Frames”
- The default number is “2,” but you can change this to any number you want. I usually do “3.” If I have a scene that is a bit longer, then I do “4.” If I have a really long scene I want to gif I do “5” but if it’s a scene with someone talking, their lips often look a bit off track from what they are actually saying. So, it all just depends on what you prefer. There’s a lot of trial and error in this so feel free to play around until you get the hang of it and can guesstimate the right amount to use.
- Next it’s time to select the frame range. Use the tip Adobe Photoshop gives you: “Hold down the shift key while moving the slider or clicking the arrows” (see above screen-shot; on the navigation bar under the video)
- Once you’re happy with the selection click “OK” and your file will open in Photoshop.
- Your frames should now be open in Photoshop.
- If it’s not visible, open the “Animation” window
- Window -> Animation
- The Animation window is where you control which frames are included in your final gif and how long each frame lasts.
- Sometimes you end up with frames at the beginning or end of your scene that you don’t want included in your gif. You can delete those by clicking on them in the animation window and clicking the tiny trashcan button.
(tip: you can save this in the optimization process later, or do it now. I have only two go-to sizes (500px in width or 400px in width) so I just do it at the beginning.)
- Resize your animation
- Your size will be dependent upon how many frames you have. Basically, the less frames you have the bigger your gif can be. (Just don’t go over 500px in width otherwise it won’t work on tumblr)
- To re-size your gif simply: Image -> Image Size
- Make sure the “Constrain Proportions” box is checked.
- Click “OK” and your image should now be re-sized
- Change the speed of the frames
- You will see speed options under each individual frame. You can edit the speed of every frame at the same time to save yourself a lot of time. You do this by clicking on the little arrow (that points downward) button at the top right of the animation window. Then click “Select All Frames” (see screen-shot below)
- When all frames are selected, change the speed to your preference. (Note: The speed of your frames will vary depending on the variable you chose in Step 2 for “Limit to every _ Frames” option. You will have to play around and preview your gif a few times to get it to your desired speed.)
- Optimize & Save your gif
- This is the part of gif making (for tumblr) in which it takes a lot of trial and error. Remember: You want your gif size 500k or under.
- To Optimize and Save your gif: File —> Save for Web and Devices
- A window with a lot of options will pop up.
- Since we’ve already re-sized our gif we only have to worry about saving it and saving it at 500k or under.
- I tried to highlight the important places to look in the screen-cap below:
- The color amount will change with each gif you make.
- I keep the dither at 99% unless it’s a very small gif in size and it will allow me to have 100% without going over 500k.
- Now, to get your gif optimized at 500k or under click on the little arrow (that points downward) button at the top right of the window (to the right of the preset drop down menu at the top). A new window will appear. Look at the screen-cap below and copy exactly what I have.
- Click OK
- This will give you the most amount of colors you can have without making your gif go over 500k. You can preview you gif by clicking the “Preview” button. It will appear in your default browser.
- If you’re satisfied with how it looks you can click the “Save” button and you’re done!
- If it doesn’t look like you would like it to (ie: too grainy, not enough colors, the speed is off) you can click “Cancel” and go back and fix what you need to.
- Too grainy/Not enough colors: You might need to delete some frames in your animation window to make the gif smaller in size or you can make the gif smaller in image size (Image -> Image Size). Follow the same steps in the optimization/saving process and see if you gif looks any better. If not, keep playing around with the image size or delete more frames from your animation window.
- Frame Speed off: Go back to Step 5 and change the speed faster or slower, depending on what you need. Follow the same steps in the optimization/saving process and see if you gif’s speed looks any better. If not, follow the same steps until it does.
- Another solution is to make your gif black & white. You can use less colors and it will still look great.
I hope this helped a little. If you have any questions feel free to leave me a message in my Ask box.