How to Make a GIF From a Video in Less Than 5 Minutes

Animated GIFs are the best way to liven up your social profile or create addictive memes that will get shared all over the world. For those of you who somehow missed out on the wonder and mastery of animated GIFs on social networks, Buzz Feed was kind enough to collect the 54 Best Animated GIFs of 2012. From the slapstick to the mesmerizing, from the endless ice cream sandwiches to the noble capybara who just needed a backrub, GIFs have changed our lives…for about 2 to 3 seconds.

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The best GIFs, like the best jokes, are here and gone. They are the ultimate in planned obsolescence. They capture a single mood, a goofy animal, an amazing trick or a heart-rending child at their cutest. If you are making an animated GIF for your profile, consider that they will be very tiny so concentrate on editing video of large figures and simple actions.

Once you’ve chosen your video clip, you can make your very own animated GIF for free in the next few minutes and you don’t need any tech skills. You can even do it on your phone but it’s much easier on your workstation or laptop because you’ll need to save the files somewhere.

The only three things you need are:

  • Video editing software – The following instructions are for Photoshop, but there are plenty of free online video editing apps and sites online, like imgflip’s Animated Gif Generator or Softpedia’s Video to GIF Converter 2.0.
  • A video – It can be your own or one you’ve found online. Online converters even allow you to put in the URL so you don’t have to download the video to your desktop first.
  • A sense of humor – Your early attempts may not come out exactly as you planned. GIF’s are designed to be a bit clunky anyway so go with it. GIFs come and go so quickly on the web that timeliness matters more than perfection.

Step 1:

Plan on using no more than two or three seconds of video. Many sites do not allow GIF’s larger that 5 MB because it slows down the server. Facebook won’t allow animated GIFs at all for this reason, so if you want a moving profile pic, you’ll need to find a workaround.

Step 2:

In Photoshop, Go to File > Import > Video Frames to Layers. This creates still images. In the pop up box, make sure you check Make Frame Animation and hit OK.

Step 3:

Below your picture, you’ll see the size of the animated GIF. 1 or 2 MB is ideal. If it is more than 5 MB, Adjust the Colors, the Dithering or the Image Size. This just takes practice and experience to get the right balance of quality image and workable size.

That’s all there is to it. You can save it, preview it and post it anywhere. There are GIF havens like imgur.com and Gifbin.com for funny or amazing images. Finding out where to post your GIF can be half the fun of making one.

Here are some online courses that can help every step of the way from shooting video to finding a home for your GIF.

  • Start with better videos. You can learn all about lighting, editing and promotion with a free course called Make Better Videos. Professional film-maker Phillip Ebiner walks you through the process from generating ideas to the final cut.
  • Learn more about building the images you want with a free Photoshop Training tutorial.
  • Use your phone to capture and edit video anywhere by taking a course in Web Video 101: Easily Make Web Videos With Your Smartphone!
  • Find out where to post your GIF to have the best impact by learning about the personality of each social network and how to get the most out of each of them in Social Media 101.