Using the Bing homepage to test a new method for creating animated gifs

If you’re unfamiliar with GIMP, a little background: It’s an open-source, and free, photo-editing and image-manipulation tool with capabilities similar to Photoshop, although not necessarily with the same usability. It’s not impossible to use, but there’s a steep learning curve. That’s an image of the GIMP environment below:

Screenshot (116)Anyway, I learned there was a plugin for GIMP called the Gimp Animation Package that allows for the creation of animated GIFs from a video, so I thought I’d give it a try. An animated gif is a file that is actually animated; made up of multiple images that run one after the other, like a flipbook animation. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and it used to be used mainly for images like clipart and small photos because it can only display 256 colors and compresses photos like crazy to maintain a small file size. CompuServe introduced the format in the late 80s when sending large image files over phone lines was not practical. Recently, however, there have been HD GIFS and even a huge debate on how the acronym is actually pronounced. There are whole pages dedicated to the pronunciation debate, with the developer of the GIF himself saying it’s pronounced ‘jiff.’ He’s wrong, of course.

I brought up the Bing homepage animation from Friday, loaded up screen-recording software called Action! that I’m testing, and recorded one animation loop off the webpage. Then I loaded the video into GIMP, converted it to a series of individual frames, and exported those separate frames as a single GIF image. It wasn’t easy; I used this site to step me through the process, and even their instructions didn’t match up perfectly with what I had on my screen.

But I’m impressed with the result, that’s it below – my first animated gif ever. It’s a huge file; 800 pixels wide and 11 megabytes, but I kept it big for the purposes of the test, and so I could see it. It’s unlikely to run very smoothly in your browser, however.

The result of my animation experimentation

The result of my animation experimentation

All of the software I used to create it is available as a free download and I have provided links in the post where appropriate. If you would like to experiment and see what you can do then I would encourage that. If you create something you’re proud of, send it to me! I’ll make a post showing off your creations.