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November 18, 2011

Create Animated GIFs with Your Videos

Animated GIF images may remind you of those cluttered and distracting homepages of the Geocities era but take a peek at this impressive tumblr blog and it might forever change the way you think of GIFs.

The site features a brilliant collection of GIF animations created using frames of classic movie scenes that play in an endless loop. Here are some examples:

Animated GIF - le mepris 

GIF from Shining

How to Create GIF Animations?

There are free tools available that let you easily convert video clips into animated GIFs that you can later host on sites like Flickr or Tumblr - not all image hosting sites support animated GIFs but the one mentioned here do.
This is a two-step process – first convert the video into a sequence of image frames and then assemble these frames into a looping GIF animation with some custom delay.
Step 1: Download FFmpeg for Windows from and extract the ffmpeg.exe file to, say, the c:\ffmpeg\ folder. The .7z files can be unzipped using the 7-zip utility.
Step 2: Now we’ll extract the frames from our video file. The command* is simple.
c:\ffmpeg\ffmpeg.exe -i movie.avi img-%03d.gif
If your video file is in another folder, you need to specify the full path of that file. Also, you may use MP4, MOV or any video format as well instead of AVI.
Step 3: Grab this portable utility called UnFreez and drag-n-drop all the image frames created in the previous step from Windows Explorer into the UnFreez window.
Enable “loop animation” and set the frame delay to say 20 cs (1 cs = 0.01 second).  Click “Make animated GIF” and preview your image is in any browser.
Screencast: Converting videos into GIF movies

[*] If you have a fairly long video file and would only like to convert a portion of it into an image, you need to slightly modify the ffmpeg parameters as shown below: 
c:\ffmpeg\ffmpeg.exe -i movie.avi –ss 5 –t 3 img-%03d.gif
The parameter ‘ss’ refers to the start position in the video while ‘t’ is the duration for which you want to extract the frames. So in the above example, image frames for the file movie.avi will be at created from the 5 second mark for the next 3 seconds on the video. 
If you would like to stop GIFs from animating in the browser, just hit the Escape key.

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