If a picture says a thousand words, how many does a GIF say? Here are five GIF-making tools to help you make your online conversations more fun, as well as enhance your PowerPoint presentations.
Whether you think it’s pronounced ‘gif’ or ‘jif’, the graphics interchange format (GIF) has become one of the dominant forms of communication in messaging services these days as, thanks to our sheer abundance of pop culture references, almost all have some real-world application.
All you have to do is take a look at message boards and sites like Buzzfeed to see that entire stories can be told using looping animated clips, sometimes with captions, sometimes with none.
This journalist was rather excited recently to hear the news that Frinkiac.com – a site that lets you caption images from The Simpsons that I called ‘better than Google.com’ – now lets you make animated GIFs from the TV show.
Yet, it’s not just about making funny clips into shareable animations, sometimes it can be a useful productivity tool, too.
For example, if you want to make a user guide about how to do something on whatever desktop platform you use, you can create GIFs that show you doing those actions onscreen, instead of relying on long, boring paragraphs of text.
But, to make these GIFs, you need some clever editing software, so, to help you out, here are five out there that should do the job for you in no time.
Having been around since 2009, the Japanese open-source GIF creation tool Gyazo is a personal favourite of mine.
Having perhaps the cleanest user interface (UI), all the user has to do is open the Gyazo tool and, when prompted, crop the area of the screen that you want to turn into a GIF or MP4 file, which can last up to 10 seconds.
Once the 10 seconds are up, your new GIF will pop up as a new tab with a range of options to choose from, whether you just want to link to it, or actually download it.
Another benefit is that it remembers your GIF creations without you needing to set up an account with seemingly unlimited cloud storage.
Aside from the less-than appealing name of LICEcap for a GIF-editing tool, the software produced by Cockos Incorporated (yes, that is its name) is still a useful and bare-bones tool for making GIFs.
Once the software is downloaded, you’re left with a box tool that allows you to change its size either by expanding the box by dragging it or entering whatever parameters you want manually.
As another open-source tool, what LICEcap definitely has over other tools is that it can pretty much be set to whatever length you want.
Once it has captured the GIF, the file will then be saved to wherever you had intended it to go.
There’s very little else to it, really, with no cloud storage or memory available, but it should be able to do everything you need.
I think the name alone is pretty self-explanatory, but, while the previous two have been applications you need to download onto your desktop, this free software is browser-based.
You can choose from three options on the site, including an animation maker that lets you select photos, an animated GIF effects maker or just insert a YouTube link and tinker around with getting the exact timeframe for the clip you want to GIF.
Once you upload at least two photos but no more than 10, you can select the desired size and speed to generate a GIF animation.
Or, if you want to create an animated effect, you just select one from those listed on the main page effects, upload the necessary number of photos, select effect size and then just press the animate button on that too.
Pretty simple, really.
Perhaps the biggest hub all of things GIFs on the internet is Giphy, which has transcended from being a GIF maker into the GIF-equivalent of emojis, as it is now being used in the likes of Facebook Messenger as a messaging keyboard.
In essence, this tool contains a vast number of previously-made GIFs, which are searchable just by entering a term that would connect it so, say, if you want to find a GIF of someone being happy you just need to enter the word, ‘happy’.
Making a GIFS is also very easy on Giphy as once a file is uploaded or linked to in its creator, its easy-to-use UI will let you edit it to whatever length of time you want and then either save or share it.
While these tools make it relatively easy to put together a GIF in a jiffy, sometimes you might need to re-work your masterpiece, either because the file size of your GIF is too big to upload to your website, or because you don’t want your GIF-filled presentation being a huge file.
Step forward Ezgif and its GIF-resizing tool, which allows you to either resize the GIF to fit a certain space, or optimise it by lessening some of its effects.
So, for example, you can take out every second frame or reduce its resolution, which will help you bring down the file size.
Once this is all done, you can then just download it from the site and use your now-optimised GIF to your heart’s content.
Woman who has clearly made a great GIF image via Shutterstock