The animated .GIF is a strange form of expression. It is only twenty or thirty frames, completely devoid of sound, repeating in an endless loop. Yet there is something intoxicating about an animated .GIF, like staring into the eyes of a hypnotist.
Creating your own animated .GIF from a movie can be a lot of fun. Animated .GIF images can be used as an avatar on a website or can be distributed among your friends. And while there are many animated .GIF images already made, creating your own will give you a distinct, unique image.
The weapon of choice in this tutorial is Windows Movie Maker. We won’t be using Windows Movie Maker to turn the file into a .GIF image, but we’ll be using it to edit the movie file so it can be easily turned into an animated movie .GIF image.
Step 1: Loading The Movie
First, we need to load the movie file. In this example I am going to use an episode of Top Gear, the famous British car show. In this episode Jeremy Clarkson tests the Ford Fiesta by driving it through a shopping mall with a Corvette in hot pursuit.
First we need to drop the movie file into Windows Movie Maker so that we can begin editing. You can do this by dragging and dropping the movie file into Windows Movie Maker. Alternative, you can go to File > Import Into Collections. Once you find the file you can select it to import the file. It will appear in the Collection area.
Now that we have the file in the Collection area, we also need to place it into the timeline below so that we can edit the file. Simpy drag-and-drop the file from the Collection area to the timeline at the bottom of the Windows Movie Maker window. This will allow us to begin editing the file down.
Step 2: Editing The Movie
An animated .GIF is only a tiny fraction of a movie. The loop on an animated .GIF usually lasts from a couple seconds to ten seconds. The reason for this is that animated movie .GIF files actually can become very large very quickly. Each frame is like a separate image. Animated .GIF images above twenty or thirty frames in size can exceed one megabyte in file size. This isn’t ideal, so you’ll need to trim down the movie to the specific part you want to make an animation of.
To do this you’ll need to crop the movie file. First, you’ll probably need to zoom out on the timeline. You can do this using the magnifying glass icons just above the timeline. Now, click on left edge of the timeline and drag to just before the part of the film you want to turn into an animated .GIF.
You will know that you are cropping the image when the cursor turn into a red double-sided arrow. Now go to the right side of the timeline and do the same thing, cropping the movie file until just after the part of the film you want to animate.
Now that we have this smaller clip, we’ll want to use the magnifying tool to zoom in. Now you simply need to start cropping the movie further until you’ve found the exact part of the movie that you want to animate. Remember, if you crop too much you can just undo your crop by pressing Ctrl+Z. Your finished, cropped video shouldn’t be much more than ten seconds in length in order to keep the file size down.
Step 3: Exporting The File & Making The Animated .GIF
Now that we have the video cropped down to a manageable size we need to export it.
On the left of Windows Movie Maker you will see the Save to my computer option under the Finish Movie section. Click on that option. You will be asked to name your file on the first screen – do so and click Next. Now you need to decide what type of movie you want to create.
In order to keep file size down our animated movie .GIF can’t be a very large image. To achieve this I recommend using the Video for Pocket PC setting. This creates a video file with a size of 208 x 160 pixels, which is small enough to work as an animated .GIF.
Now that we have the video, we need to convert the file into a .GIF. This is one thing which Windows Movie Maker doesn’t do for us, but there are websites which will. Using the instruction in the Makeuseof GIF Ninja tutorial , you’ll easily be able to convert the video file into an animated .GIF.
The results? Well, here is what I ended up with.
Cool? Now you can make your own animated .GIF from any movie you want! Share your productions in the comments.