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07 April 2011 @ 05:20 am
TUTORIAL | How To Make GIFs  

So I figured I would post this in case anyone was curious and, also, for my own reference because I am scatterbrained as all get-out. I poked around at a few different GIF tutorials and none of them really clicked. Then vworping linked jericapng's tutorial and it seemed much easier than fighting with the Convert Video to Layers ones I'd been looking at.

Necessary Materials
- The video you want to use - you're on your own with this one
- VLC media player - free and downloadable here
- Photoshop - I use CS4. You can find a free trial download of CS5, however, on the Adobe website.

Step By Step (ooh, baby)

  • Open VLC, we'll be prepping it for screencapturing first

  • Tools > Preferences

  • Under Video scroll down to Video Snapshots and choose where you'd like the program to put your screencaps. the default location is USER/My Pictures, my location is USER/Video Caps.

A comment: I use sequential numbering, but I'm not really sure if it's necessary, but it helps me keep things organized a little better.

  • Now, to Hotkeys (still in the Preferences window), scroll and find Take Video Snapshot. The default key setting is Shift+s, but we're going to want to take multiple caps in sequence, so holding down two keys is going to be a hassle. change the hotkey to something that's not being used by another function (it will let you know if it is). I use 'x'.

  • Apply, Save, EXIT OUT OF VCL. I'm still not sure if this is required, as Jerica's tutorial didn't mention it, but I wasn't able to do any capping with my new hotkey setting until I exited and reopened the application.

  • Open Photoshop and show the Animation pane: Window > Animation

Now we're done with the initial settings.

  • Open VCL, open your video, find the area you want to start capping at. Generally, I go a few seconds before. It means some initial deleting unwanted caps from your screencapping folder or frames from your animation, but it gives some flexibility.

  • When you find the area you want to cap, HOLD DOWN YOUR HOTKEY. If it's working correctly, you'll see a small cap pop up overtop of your video, alerting you that it's saving that particular cap to the chosen folder. This does not affect the cap your taking, so don't worry! It's just to let you know you successfully took a screenshot. If it doesn't show, then, most likely, your hotkey isn't correct.

  • After you finish grabbing the caps for the section you want, go into Photoshop.

Now comes the fun part (maybe). Jerica's tutorial said to drag your subsequent caps on top of the first cap you open and they'll all set themselves as layers on the same image. This didn't work for me, for whatever reason, so I had to find a different method.

  • File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack...

  • I prefer to use the Files option, but I'm sure the folder one may work for people. Hit Browse and select the images you want to use, then wait for them to all load up. Then, hit OK.

The images will then load as layers into a single image that you'll be working from. Give it a second to get everything set up.

In the animation panel, there's a few things you want to be familiar with before moving on:

Make note of the Options Panel button because you'll be using it a lot.

  • Hit the Convert to Frame Animation button (the one in the lower right hand corner of your Animation pane).

  • Hit the Options button and Select All.

  • Options > Make Frames from Layers. This will line all your layers up as frames for your animation. You'll also notice they've reversed on you. Don't panic!

  • Options > Reverse Frames. Be sure you still have all the frame selected!

  • While all frames are still selected, you'll see some text under each of your frames. It's set at 0 sec. by default. Generally, you'll change that to 0.1 secs. so your animation will run smoothly. However, you can fiddle around with it, especially if you remove some frames to make your file smaller. You'll want to add some time to it so the frames linger a little longer.

Here's where the GIF-making is all in your hands. I've given pretty much the bare bones way of making one, but you can also use Actions and such to edit your graphics. However, you'd have to find a different tutorial for that, because I've never used Actions in Photoshop!

A small note, if you're making GIFs for Tumblr, your best settings when you go to save (which I'll touch on in a minute) are 500px wide and UNDER 500kb large.

Now, on saving your GIF properly:

  • File > Save For Web & Devices...

  • If you click on the 2-Up tab, you'll be able to view the original GIF, unoptimized as well as the optimized, web-ready GIF.

  • You want, of cours, your file type to be a GIF, otherwise it won't be animated!

The rest is all up to you. Play with the settings and find out what you like best and what works best for the GIF you've created. You can view your file sizes under the images in the pane. The top image is your original GIF and the bottom one is the web-ready file. You're also able to play and view your animation so you can go back and tweak things if needed.