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Short and punchy, GIFs are the best way to say everything without saying anything at all. But how do you make a GIF from a video online? And what are the best free GIF makers?
No worries. We’ll show you everything you need to know (and more!) about making those bite-sized wonders, otherwise known as GIFs. Watch the video below or read on for a quick how-to.
Why do we love GIFs so much?
If a picture says a thousand words, a GIF says a million.
GIFs are usually short scenes from popular TV shows and movies, turned into mini-video snippets. Feeling sad? There’s a GIF for that. Find a $50 note on the ground? GIFs have you covered.
This simple but effective bit of media has become a staple in our lives — on social media, through messenger apps, and even in workplace emails. But why?
Scenes that become GIFs generally express emotions in a big, recognizable way. By distilling a video clip down to its emotional core, a GIF creates a shortcut of sorts. An instant connection to the feeling or idea you are trying to convey.
For those of us who watch way too much TV, pop-culture GIFs have the added bonus of instantly connecting us with other fanatics.
It’s like communication at hyper-speed. And it works for just about any situation.
GIFs rarely last over 5 seconds, and they usually have small file sizes, so they don’t prevent web pages from loading quickly. They are also shareable with a simple copy-paste, making them an easy addition to internal comms, marketing, interacting with your audience, or anything in between.
If you want to make an instant emotional connection with your audience, a GIF is an easy way to do it. A high-five GIF says so much more than a “Yay!” ever will.
Choosing the right video clip for your GIF
You want to make a GIF, but how do you go about selecting the right video clip?
GIFs are short. Really short. And they’re all about communicating one emotion, one feeling, one idea. Don’t get caught up in trying to communicate a whole saga — that’s what a good video is for. Think of a GIF as a distillation of everything you want to say in just a few seconds.
Suppose a coworker tells you their car got dinged on the way to work. Perhaps an animated GIF of someone crying in a puddle of their own tears will do the trick. Or a clip of someone so angry that their head turns red like a ripe tomato.
Or maybe something like this:
Remember, short and punchy. That’s the name of the GIF game. If you need inspiration, the GIFY home page is a great place to start.
Pro tip: Want to find a video clip that hasn’t already been turned into a GIF zillions of times? Biteable has thousands of clips to choose from, plus a huge library of custom, GIF-worthy animations.
How to make a GIF online for free
While there are a lot of ready-made GIFs available on platforms like Giphy, making your own is pretty painless and allows you to express yourself using even the most obscure references.
Here are a few of the best free online GIF makers.
Giphy is a super quick and easy-to-use GIF maker. You can make a GIF using the video URL from a video hosting platform like YouTube, or by uploading your own video file. While Giphy isn’t particularly sophisticated, it doesn’t need to be. It only took us a few minutes to create this GIF from one of our Biteable animations. It’s so easy you’ll feel like dancing.
1. Sign in and select “Create” in the top right hand corner.
2. Make your GIF.
Upload your video, then trim it by choosing the duration and the start time.
3. Select “Continue to Decorate”.
This takes you to the customization screen. Here you can add captions, stickers, filters, and your own squiggles and bits. You can skip this step entirely if you want. Otherwise, get decorating and click ‘Continue to Upload’ when done.
4. Share your GIF
That’s it! You’ve made your GIF. Now share it with your audience, friends and family, or coworkers.
Make a GIF
If you’re looking for a slightly more sophisticated, but equally quick GIF creator, Make a GIF could be the one for you. Keep in mind you’ll need a premium account to remove the Make a GIF watermark and to access special features like high-definition GIFs.
You can create a Make a GIF account or proceed without one. Make a GIF allows you to create high-quality animated GIFs from:
- YouTube videos
- Facebook videos
- A video you upload
Here’s how you do it.
1. Upload your GIF.
For this example, we’ll select “Video to GIF”. After you upload your video, customize it by adding stickers and captions as well as adjusting GIF speed, length, and start time. When you’re happy, select “Continue to Publishing”.
2. Name and tag your GIF.
Give your GIF a name, a category, and a few tags so it can be found easily. Once you’re done, select “Create a GIF” in the bottom right.
3. See your GIF in action.
Now your GIF is ready to be sent out across the web.
(Note the makeagif.com watermark in the bottom right corner of the GIF. This will be visible as long as you use a basic account.)
Making a GIF on your mobile phone
You’re on the train. You’re on a bus. You’re out at lunch. You want to make a GIF but you’re away from the computer. Fortunately, the folks at GIPHY have a solution to all your troubles.
Here’s how to make a GIF on your mobile phone in seconds.
GIPHY app (Android and iOS)
1. Tap “Create” in the top-right corner of the screen.
The icon for this step alternates between a ‘+’ symbol and a camera icon, but they both take you to the same place.
2. Find your video in your camera roll, located at the bottom left of the screen. Tap it, and it’ll upload to the GIPHY app.
3. Customize your GIF.
Here are your customization options:
- Trim the length of the clip using the scissors icon. (6.5 seconds is the max.)
- Add stickers to your GIF by tapping the sticker icon.
- Tap the two linked circles to add filters.
- Add text by choosing the “aA” text symbol.
4. Change the aspect ratio of your GIF.
Tap the crop symbol in the top right corner to change the aspect ratio. We recommend 1:1 for most cases. You can also change what part of your video is shown.
Click ‘Continue’ when you’re done.
4. Click the right-pointing arrow to export your GIF. Either tap ‘Save GIF’ to download to your phone, or ‘Upload to GIPHY’ to put your GIF on GIPHY’s servers for easy access wherever you are.
Here’s the final version of our GIF using the GIPHY app.
How to make a GIF on your desktop
For most situations, an app or a web-based GIF maker does the trick. But if you need a greater level of sophistication and control, Photoshop is a powerful option for creating GIFs.
If you’re using Photoshop, we’re going to assume you’re pretty tech-savvy (and have an Adobe Suite plan.) Here’s the low-down on how to make a GIF with Photoshop.
1. Open Photoshop (we’re using Photoshop CC 2017).
2. Go to File → Import → Video Frames to Layers.
3. To choose the part of the video you want to use, mark “Selected Range Only” in the dialogue box, then slide the trim controls below the video to specify the range.
4. You can also lower the frame rate to conserve file size.
5. Make sure the ‘Make Frame Animation’ box is checked, and hit ‘OK.’
6. Go to File → Export → Save for Web (Legacy). (File → Save for Web in previous versions.)
There are heaps of options here. You can limit the file size by playing with the number of colors or the Image Size options, but if you don’t mind how big your GIF is, just hit save, and you’re done. Easy.
Great custom GIFs start with great custom videos
In this post, we showed you how to make GIF files from a video. But we want to underscore that you need a great video to make a great GIF.
Biteable has thousands of pieces of animated and live-action content and an extensive selection of GIF-worthy stock footage to choose from. Find your next short masterpiece in Biteable — and get GIFing.
Ready for something a little longer? Make jaw-dropping videos using Biteable’s huge template library or start from scratch to let your inner video-making genius sing.