DMA HOW-TO: Creating Animated GIFs

By Yishan Lin

We’ll show you how to make animated GIFs your friends will flip for.

In this DMA HOW-TO we’ll teach you how to create an animated GIF.

In case you’re not sure what a GIF is, it’s a short animated video sequence that repeats endlessly in a loop. With the popularity of Internet image boards, it’s not uncommon to stumble across a GIF.

We’ll show you two different methods of creating your very own animated images, which are termed “GIFs.” Soon you can send all kinds of cool animations to your friends and family!

The first method requires a computer with Adobe® Photoshop®:

1. Find a Youtube video that has a moment you’d like to capture. It can be a certain highlight during a sports game (such as a spectacular dunk, touchdown catch, etc.) or an action moment in a trailer, or even a funny fail video.

2. After you’ve downloaded the video, open Photoshop on your computer. Just go to File => Import => Video Frames to Layers.

The video will appear in a window that will ask you what range you would like to import in the video (from Beginning to End or Selected Range.) Use the little tabs at the bottom of the video preview to pick out what specific moment in the video you would like to import and turn into the GIF.

Importing-video-frames-to-layers1. Here we’re already well into the process, importing video frames to the various layers.

Remember, try and limit the part of the video you want to turn into a GIF as short as possible (2 to 4 seconds). If it’s too long, you’ll have to begin chopping down on the quality of the GIF itself in order to squeeze it down to a smaller size. If you cut down too much on the quality, the GIF will turn into a useless grainy mess. Keep in mind that most image-hosting websites will only accept GIFs below 2MBs.

3. Press Okay when you’ve picked out the specific moment in the video.

That moment will now be transferred into Photoshop and broken down into many still images. Then go back to File => Save for Web.

The window that now appears is all about configuring your quality settings. The higher quality the GIF looks, the bigger the file it will be.

4. This fourth step is certainly optional, as most people will want to learn for themselves while tinkering around the Colors/Dither/Lossy value. But in the interest of speed and convenience, this fourth step greatly speeds up the process in optimizing your GIF quality to the size that you want it at.

Selecting-range-of-video-to-import2. Another critical step is selecting the range of videos to import.

Click on the icon at the top-right corner of the window, and then set the image size to what you want. Remember that 1 MB = 1000K. So, 2MB = 2000K. Just set it to whatever image size you want, and Photoshop will take care of the rest for you. Hit Save, and now you have your very own GIF that you can begin sharing with the rest of the Internet.

The second method of creating GIFs does not require Adobe Photoshop:

Online Websites
There are many online websites that can create GIFs for you. These websites only require users to upload images or Youtube video clips and then follow the directions. We experimented with two GIF creating websites: Memecenter’s Gif Maker and Gifsoup.

Both websites also streamline the process by allowing users to simply copy and paste Youtube URL links instead of having to download them. However, it was obvious that users do not possess the same level of control over their GIFs as they would in Adobe Photoshop. Many websites’ editing options, not just Gifsoup and Memecenter, were restricted to only paying customers or just limited to begin with.

Saving-GIFs-for-Web3. One of the most important (and fun) processes is saving GIFs for the Web.

Despite being free and easily more convenient than the first method, we still find that creating GIFs through Adobe Photoshop to be the superior process. The level of quality and control that Adobe Photoshop offers in creating GIFs is just better.

There’s even a website that will extract frames from GIFs!

Explore Photoshop Deeply, This Summer!
If you want to get even deeper into Adobe Photoshop, consider spending some of your summer at a DMA digital photography tech camp. DMA students use professional Canon cameras and receive instruction from industry professionals. It’s the kind of experience that looks great on a college or internship application. DMA can show you how to turn your passion for photography into a rewarding career, at tech camp locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Check back each Thursday for a new DMA HOW-TO.