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Gif Tutorial

Since I get asked about how to make these on a regular basis, I thought I’d try to put together a tutorial. This is a pretty comprehensive look at it, but I expect some of you might still have questions. If so, you can send them to the ask box - I’ll reply privately so as not to clog up everyone dashboards!

Let me also clarify that there are many ways of making gifs, and lots of people use different programs than I do (Photoshop seems to be a common choice). My method uses only programs that are free and easy to download.

  1. The first thing you need to do is select the segment of video that you want to make a gif of. I do this using Windows Movie Maker, which should be on your computer already, unless you’re a non-Windows user.

    Isolate the clip you want to use. In this example I’m making a gif of Rachel’s dads from “Heart”.

    Then publish your movie.

  2. You now need a program to take stills from your movie clip. The one that I use is a free video to jpg converter, which can be downloaded here.

    Once you’ve opened it up, it’s very easy to use.

    Just select the video clip you want at the top, and specify how many JPGs you want. I usually try for around 10 frames per second. Getting the right number of frames can be tricky, because it changes based on a few variables:

    • What size gif you want to make (e.g. 500 pixels wide? 250 pixels wide? The bigger your gif, the fewer frames you can use.)
    • The brightness of the images (typically, brighter pictures take up more file space, so the darker your gif the more frames you can use.)
    • The length of your clip (the longer your video, the more frames you’ll need; otherwise your gif will look jumpy).

    My best advice here is to play around with it until you figure out what works for you. I’m planning to make a small gif here (“reaction” size), so I’ve chosen a fairly large number of frames.

    Under ‘output folder’, choose where you want to save the JPGs. Then click ‘extract’.

  3. The last program you need is something to put the actual gif together. As I said before, there are lots of options for this, but I use a free program called Photoscape (download here).

  4. Optional step: you may want to edit the stills before you make your gif. There are a few reasons for doing this - a) if you want to put a watermark on your gif; b) if you want to mess around with the colouring or lighting; c) if you want to crop the photos to a certain shape or size; d) if you want to add an object to your photo (like this); etc. All of these things can be done in the batch editor, where you edit multiple photos at the same time.

    Drag and drop your photos into the editor.

    The orange arrow points to the list of photos that I’m editing - all the JPGs that my converter program created. I haven’t done any editing to these frames yet. I’m now going to brighten them up by adjusting the Filter settings on the right (red arrow).

    There are too many options in the batch editor for me to show you them all. If you have specific questions on adding watermarks, cropping, converting to black and white, etc. then you can ask, but they should be pretty easy to figure out on your own. The last thing I’m going to do to this gif is add some text. I want to make my text “flash” on my gif, so I’m adding it to frames selectively; usually this won’t be the case.

    Once you have the JPGs looking the way you want them to, click ‘Convert All’.

  5. Now, switch over to the ‘Animated Gif' tab.

    Drag and drop your converted JPGs into the gif editor.

    Now comes the tricky part - determining what size and speed to make your gif. The speed is basically up to you; it won’t affect the file size much, and is easy to change (just click ‘change time’ on the right toolbar). Just play around with it until the speed looks right to you. I usually find that somewhere between .8 and .12 seconds is about right.

    Size is a little more difficult to negotiate. In order to upload to Tumblr, your gif needs to be no larger than 500x500. I’m making mine quite a bit smaller than that, because it’s going to be a “reaction” gif. I’ve sized it at 245x215.

    Tumblr also requires that your gif be smaller than 1000 KB. Mine is well under that, but when you make larger gifs, this will be something you have to work around. If you need to shrink your gif, you can either adjust the physical size (ie. I could change mine to 245x200), or you can remove one or more of the frames, making your gif slightly shorter.

  6. My gif can now be uploaded to Tumblr!

A note on making gif sets:

If you’re planning to post a photoset of gifs (see some examples here, here and here), you’ll want to size them appropriately. For instance, if uploading 2 gifs side by side, you should make each of them around 245 pixels across (500 pixels minus the 10-pixel space between the gifs, then divided by 2). You can upload differently-sized gifs if you want, but they might turn out funny depending on their dimensions.

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