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The Animated GIF thread.


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#1 Waspinator

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 09:25 PM

Since I've gotten a few PMs and questions about them, I figure we should just have an animated GIF thread. I figure it would be nice to have a place to compile techniques and tricks, as well as for people to ask questions.

I'll go first, with how I do stuff. The programs I use mainly are VirtualDub:
http://www.virtualdub.org/
Avidemux:
http://fixounet.free.fr/avidemux/
and SUPER:
http://www.erightsof...PER.html#Dnload
I also like the Xvid codec for when I'm outputing AVIs:
http://www.xvid.org/

First things first, let's get your video files. You probably have some source video in mind that you may already have, have seen on Youtube, or on some other site. If you already have the video, you can skip this part. You can get videos from various shady sites such as 4chan, but I'm not going to talk about that here. If you need to get it from Youtube, the add-on DownloadHelper is a fast and easy way to save it:
https://addons.mozil...fox/addon/3006/
With that installed, an icon appears to the left of the title of the video when on Youtube and you can click on that to download it. For other web sites, such as Hubworld, you need a bit more advanced tactics. StreamTransport will do it:
http://www.streamtransport.com/
It appears as a web browser window, which you use to get to the video that you want. You then select the file from the bottom half of the screen (usually whichever listed file has the longest play length) and click download on the right. If you select show tasks, you can see the download's progress. When it is done, choose locate so that you can find the file you saved. Put it somewhere that you'll remember.

Now that you have your video, we need to get it into an avi format, since VirtualDub will only open those and that is the program that I use to actually output the GIFs. I will explain this later though, since I am honestly getting tired of typing.

#2 Waspinator

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 09:31 PM

Ok, I lied about later. Here's how you get something to AVI format with Avidemux. Choose file, open, and the file you want to convert. On the left side of the screen, change the drop boxes to the following settings:
Video: MPEG-4 ASP (Xvid) – note, if you don't have Xvid, you'll have to experiment with the others to see what works on your computer
Audio: MP3
Format: AVI
If you only plan on using part of the video, you can save converion time by selecting a segment now. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard and/or the slider at the bottom of the screen to get to the start of the segment, then choose the edit menu and “Set marker A”. Then get to the end of the segment and “Set marker B”. Finally, choose File => Save => Save Video and save it somewhere with a file name ending it .avi.

I will explain how to convert with SUPER later, I mainly mentioned it because Avidemux occasionally chokes on a file that SUPER can handle.

Now, here's the basics of VirtualDub. Choose File => Open Video File and choose the avi you saved in the last part. Once it's open, if you have not already shortened the video, use the slider and/or the arrow keys to move to the start of the segment that you want to use and pick Edit => Set Selection Start, then move to the end and pick Edit => Set Selection End. If the video size is large, one useful technique is to pick Filters under the Video menu. Click Add and then select one of the 2:1 reduction filters. You can add it multiple times to further reduce the size of the video. You can also crop your video through the filter menu. After adding at least one filter (if you don't want to change the size, add a brightness/contrast filter and don't change any settings), the Cropping button should be selectable. Navigate using the slider and/or buttons to the part of the video you're focusing on so that you can see how much extra space there may be. By using your mouse cursor and dragging the sides of the video view box, you can crop out parts of the frame. Hit ok when you're done.

When you have everything the way you want it, choose the File menu, then Export, then Animated GIF. You probably want “Infinite Loop” to be selected. Give it a name, save it somewhere, and enjoy your new GIF.

Edited by Waspinator, 21 December 2010 - 09:39 PM.


#3 Waspinator

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Posted 24 December 2010 - 01:38 AM

Some other useful tips:

Say that there's a clip that you want to loop that has no clean point to do so. Open up the video in Avidemux and get the starting and ending points selected as above, also set up the video and audio boxes. Save the video as an .avi somewhere and put a 1 on the end of the name (not necessary, but convenient to help you remember the order later). Go to the Video menu at the top and select Filters. Double click on the part that says Reverse and then click close. Save the .avi again, this time with a 2 on the end. Open the 1 file in Virtualdub normally and then choose File => Append AVI Segment and choose the 2 file. Then do whatever resizing, cropping, whatever and export the GIF as normal. The video should play once forwards, then backwards, then forwards, backwards, etc, for forever in a clean loop.

If you need to reduce file size further and want to risk potential choppiness, you can have Virtualdub remove frames to reduce file size. This works best in high frame-rate source videos, since they can probably lose some redundant frames without much effect. In VirtualDub, open the Video menu and choose Frame Rate, then choose either "Process every other frame" or "Process every third frame". This is not recommended in all cases since, especially in videos with a lot of movement, it can make things very choppy.

#4 TM2-Megatron

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 02:06 PM

QUOTE(TooManyBunnies @ Jan 6 2011, 01:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm growing ever more jealous of the gif-making skills around here.

I tried again last night after grabbing the high quality .flv files from the Hub, but Avidemux hangs when I try to load any of them! So I downloaded SUPER instead (which was a headache in itself) and then spent an hour trying to figure out the interface. I managed to export an AVI of Swarm of the Century, but it looks terrible, and I couldn't get a decent .gif out of it at all -- it came out all full of artifacts.

Any tips on getting SUPER to export the AVI right? I tried to match the output settings to the specs of the input file, but it didn't seem to help any...

Edit: Suddenly I notice that the tutorial thread was actually meant to be a discussion thread -- feel free to take any responses over there! Sorry for not noticing.


Assuming you've matched the framerate (29.970) and resolution (640x360) of the Hubworld videos in SUPER's settings, the major thing I could see causing that kind of quality decrease would be the codec you're using. The Hubworld files use H.264/AVC, which usually transcodes (i.e. suffers a second round of encoding) fairly well once or (for HD) twice, unlike its predecessor (MPEG-2). But personally, I prefer just converting the episode into a RAW, uncompressed AVI. That doesn't diminish the quality at all since there's no transcoding. The only downside is space; a full episode of this show uncompressed is 25.7GB; but raw video is much easier to work with and I have 3TB of space, so it's not really a concern.

Edited by TM2-Megatron, 06 January 2011 - 02:07 PM.


#5 TooManyBunnies

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:29 PM

I think I got it! Thanks so much to both of you!

#6 Waspinator

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:53 PM

Yeah, I mentioned SUPER for completeness, but I'm not sure I'm good enough with it to really write a tutorial. It works, but figuring out the settings can sometimes be a complete pain.

#7 TooManyBunnies

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 04:23 PM

Well, for my purposes, what I had to do was pretty simple; it just doesn't look like it is. I mean, I must have spent ten minutes going "Wh-where's File | Open?"

As far as I can tell, all I had to do was:
  • Set the output to AVI.
  • Set the codec to Raw.
  • Set the Video Scale Size to No Change.
  • Select the frame rate that matches the original video (most players will give that information).
  • Drag the video file from Windows Explorer onto the SUPER window. (Which is harder than it has any right to be--who was the arrogant harebrain that coded SUPER to be always centered and on top?)
  • Click Encode.
And if pops up the thing about changing the audio settings, it won't encode right away, so click Encode again if it did that.

Anything missing?

#8 Waspinator

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 06:33 PM

Here's how to make a montage like in my signature. First, get your screenshots from wherever. They can be JPGs, PNGs, or whatever, but they need to be all in the same format and in the same folder. They also need to all have the same dimensions in terms of pixel count. Copy the first one, name the copy 0.jpg (or whatever format you're using) and then rename the rest in increasing numbers (1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, etc...). Don't ask me why you need the copy, VirtualDub just seems to sometimes drop the first frame in stuff like this. Anyway, fire up VirtualDub and open the 0 file. The sequence should load as a video. Under the video menu choose Frame Rate and then in the top half of that window, choose "change frame rate to" and enter a number. For a slow montage, you probably want to choose a value of something like .5 fps. The smaller, the slower the montage will be. Hit ok. Then add whatever resizing or whatever other kind of filters you want to do and export the GIF as normal.

Edited by Waspinator, 14 January 2011 - 06:36 PM.


#9 Copper Bezel

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for this - you'd mentioned Avidemux before, so I started with that, but your process is much less kludgey for the rest than what I had figured out from there. Very cool!

Edited by Copper Bezel, 31 January 2011 - 08:28 PM.

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#10 Waspinator

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 05:23 PM

Something I recently figured out: I had been having trouble getting SUPER to convert the Hubworld .flvs to decent quality .avis, but Avidemux can't open said .flv directly. Well, you can set the output container on SUPER to MKV, check "Stream Copy" for the Video and Audio feeds, and give it the .flv. You'll very quickly get a .mkv file that is basically the same data from the .flv reorganized a little. And Avidemux CAN open the .mkv!

Edited by Waspinator, 25 February 2011 - 05:24 PM.




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