Making Gifs

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Animated gifs are an awesome way of showing of features that need a little more than just an image, either for marketing purposes or explaining a feature in more detail. This page holds all information on the entire process of creating a gif.

On this page

General

The GIF format is popular because it works everywhere and has a no-fuss UI. – Kornel

Gifs are used everywhere for a reason, but as you can read in the referenced article above, they are also expensive. Expensive in that a gif can quickly become a big file, which takes longer to load. To create great looking gifs that walk the line between file size and quality, some steps need be considered.

Quick and Easy

The "quick and easy" process is for your everyday usage, where performance is not that important. It's the most efficient way of creating a gif.

Step 1

Show only what you need to. Not everything needs to be in there, its a glimpse at a single bug/feature. Keep the recorded area small and dedicated.

Step 2

Use a dedicated app that instantly outputs a gif, see Tools - All in one.

Expert

The "expert" process is for those cases where performance is important. It takes a little longer, but can pay off for situations such as important blog posts, extremely big gifs, and incredibly detailed gifs.

Step 1

Show only what you need to. Not everything needs to be in there, its a glimpse at a single bug/feature. Keep the recorded area small and dedicated.

Step 2

All my GIFs start as videos – Andy Orsow

If you want to create professional gifs, you want to start from a video file. This can give you expert control over the output if you need it (e.g. motion blur can add additional professionalism). Video files will in most cases be created from a screen recording software, details can be found in the Tools Section

Step 3

Reduce the amount of colors visible. You can do this either be thinking beforehand what exactly you will capture or by limiting the amount of output colors exported in the resulting gif (see options gifify ). Check your result to see if it fits your needs.

Another step could be to drop duplicate frames by manually searching through all frames. For more information on this, look here. This additional step can take a lot of time. As with anything: "Only use it if you need to".

Step 4

Try to go for a minimum of 15 fps and see if the result is good enough with your "compress", "speed", and "resolution" settings.

Tools

There are many different tools to record your screen or to create gifs. Use whichever tool you are comfortable with, but remember: "In order to create great looking gifs that walk the line between file size and quality a certain control over each step of the expert process is preferred".

All in one

A few things are important in this section:

Gifox (macOS)

Gifox is the absolute best option here, although a payed app, its reasonably priced ($2.99). It has support for all of the features, shortcuts and then some.

Worthy of mentioning:

FFCast + FFmpeg (Linux)

FFCast is a command line tool that wraps around ffmpeg to capture screen regions in order to record it or capture it. Optionally this could be piped into gifify.

Screen Recording

Quicktime (macOS)

On every Mac, Quicktime has already been installed. It features a nice screen record option and even has basic trim and splitting functions in the edit menu! Perfect for creating those video files.

quicktime gif

Worthy of mentioning:

Camstudio (Windows)

Camstudio is a free tool. Not yet tested…

FFCast + FFmpeg (Linux)

FFCast is a command line tool that wraps around ffmpeg to capture screen regions in order to record it or capture it. Optionally this could be piped into gifify.

Converting to Gif

Gifify (CLI)

Gifify is a command line tool and gives you the most complete set of options in order to convert your video files to gifs. It is probably the best free tool available, with the most control.

Example command:

gifify input.mov -o output.gif --resize 960:-1 --compress 0 --colors 50 --speed 1.05 --fps 15

Worthy of mentioning:

Convert video to gif online