In this Tutorial I’m going to teach you how easy it is to make a gif from any video source. I’ve always thought cinemagraphs (cinematic infinite looped gif) were really cool and I’ve been using them as my Android wallpaper for the past year (you can do the same with the free app in the android play store called AnimGIF Live Wallpaper). Check out the cinemagraphs subreddit for cinemagraph examples.
I was inspired to make these gifs after watching Mitch Murder’s new music video Interceptor. The video is a perfect candidate for making cinemagraphs as much of it is already looped and the pixelated style should keep well even when compressed. All credit to the amazing animation and video direction goes to James Rowsell AKA SpaceFader (YouTube, Website).
WHAT WE’LL NEED
- Handbrake – the best open source and cross platform video decoding/encoding suite. If you’re getting your source video clip from a DVD handbrake will make getting it off of there a snap.
- Lightworks – A newly open sourced professional grade video editor. We’ll use lightworks to trim the source video to the clip we want to use for our gif.
- GIMP – An open source image editor, this is what we’ll use to output out final gif.
Acquire your video clip, I used the FlashGot plugin for firefox to download the YouTube video I’m using, you might want to rip a clip from a DVD you own using handbrake. I won’t cover this part as there are many ways to go about getting your source material.
Step 1: Trim and prepare your clip using Lightworks
This is the first time I’m using lightworks so I made sure to watch their quick start tutorials . If you haven’t used lightworks before watch the tutorials, it doesn’t work like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut. For our purposes we won’t need to know more than the basics.
- Create a new project (enter your project name and select auto for frame rate)
- Double click the project you just created to open it.
- The first thing to pop up is the import media dialog, find your media and double click to open it.
- You now have your imported video clip in a content manager
- Preview your clip by double clicking on it. Scrub to the part of the video you want and set the in point by either pressing the in point button or pressing the keyboard shortcut ‘i’, scrub to the end of the part you want and set the out point with the button or with the ‘o’ key.
- In the tools toolbar on the left click create new edit, the new edit window will appear, click the title above the timeline and rename it to save it.
- In the video clip preview window you opened to set your in and out point there is a button called ‘insert into target edit’ select this button and the trimmed clip will drop into your edit window. If you’re trying to make a perfect loop you can click this button twice to drop the trimmed clip in twice so you can preview how the jump at the end of the loop will look. With some fine tuning of your in and out points (and the right source footage) you should be able to get a decent loop going. Remember, the left and right arrow keys are your friends, they will allow you to scrub through your footage frame by frame.
- Once you’re happy with your trimmed clip it’s time to export, in the edit window drag your playhead to the beginning of the clip and set your in, then drag the play head to the end of your clip and backup one frame (to skip the last black frame) and set your out. Now go to the edit preview window at the top right and click the gears icon (settings). Select Export -> Media Files -> Image Sequence. In the image sequence dialog box select .jpg for file type and match the size to your source footage, lastly make sure to check the ‘Create folders for clips’ checkbox. Set the destination, and click start. Lightworks will output a single .jpg for each frame of footage.
Step 2: Import as layers into GIMP
Now that we’ve got a folder of .jpg’s we’re ready to move into GIMP.
- Open GIMP (this takes a while the first time
- Select menu item File -> Open as layers
- Select all your jpg’s that were exported from lightworks and click open. I had some issues with GIMP importing the images in the right order if I had over 100 frames, if you run into this problem just select your images in batches. For example, select frames 1 – 100, import, then select frames 101-199, import, etc. If you do this in the correct order from first frame to last it will all come into GIMP in the correct order.
Step 3: Scale, preview, and optimize
Now that all the frames are layered in the right order we can scale the image to keep the file size small. The gif format is an old one and tends to be rather bloated.
- Select menu item Image -> Scale image, I scaled my 720p footage by a half, from the original 1280 width to 640 pixels wide. Make sure the aspect ration (chain icon) is locked so you don’t get distortion when you scale.
- Now that you’re image is smaller we can preview the gif and optimize it further before final export. Go to menu item Filters -> Animation -> Playback to preview your clip, be sure to set the frame rate to the same as the source clip to check the speed of your animation.
- If everything’s looking good we’re ready for optimization. Close the playback window and go back to the Animation sub-menu in Filters and select ‘Optimize (for GIF)’ this will process the image frames to try to make the gif as small as possible, removing unnecessary image data in each frame.
Step 4. Exporting your Gif
The final countdown! Now that your gif is optimized it will have popped up in a new window,
- Make sure the newly optimized gif window is the active one, then go to File -> Export As (not Save As)
- Choose where to save your gif and at the bottom of the dialog select file type gif.
- When you hit Export the Export gif dialog box opens up, check the ‘as animation’ checkbox
- Under Animated Gif Options select Loop Forever and set your desired delay between each frame. The default is 100ms but this made all my gifs slow since 100ms per frame is longer than the original 24fps that my source material was encoded at. 24 fps is 42 milliseconds so I set that to the frame delay and checked the ‘Use delay entered above for all frames’ checkbox. That’s it! Click Export and you should have your very own looped gif.
You can haz Mitch Murder gifs now 🙂
The tutorial I used for GIMP http://ds106.us/wiki/index.php?title=Creating_Animated_GIFs_with_MPEG_Streamclip_and_GIMP