What’s the quickest way to start looping your digital emotions? Sure, you could fire up Photoshop and start building an animated GIF the old-fashioned way, but today's mobile-connected, share-crazy Internet demands something quicker. We tried out several GIF-making tools and rounded up some of the best, funnest, and simplest options.
In a word, Gifff.fr is easy. The site asks for a YouTube link and then crunches the video into a GIF. You can choose different sizes and speeds as well as also adding text on top or bottom. If the GIF is small enough in size—under 2MB—the site will then offer the option to post it to Imgur, or if it’s too large then to Cloudpix. If you have other intentions for your masterpiece, the file can also be downloaded.
The whole process is very straightforward and a breeze when it works. In testing, there were a few minor connection hiccups, but it’s hard to tell if it was attributable to the site or another factor. There are, of course, other YouTube to GIF solutions, like Makeagif or Gifsoup, but Gifff.fr is by far the best designed and not into the watermarking or spammy clutter.
Face To Gif is a bare-bones way to really personalize the emotion you’re trying to indefinitely loop. Each generated GIF has a random, unguessable URL so it's up to you how far and wide your animation will spread.
Activating your webcam prompts a countdown before recording whatever it can see. From there, everything runs client-side. So no one will see any data unless you save it and share it. Being client-side also means that the web app will only run as fast as your computer. On a Retina Macbook Pro, I didn’t have any hiccups, but there’s a good chance older machines will experience slowness.
Recordit gives GIFs a more productive use case than looped bloopers and cute cat clips: mini-screencasts. The super-handy isn’t solely for GIFs, but takes the idea that you might want short, embed-able .gifs to demonstrate on-screen functions rather than full videos.
The free Mac version of Recordit allows for five minutes of recording. After finishing a screen cast, the video is uploaded and given its own URL for easy sharing.
But the clever part is the "Generate GIF" button on each video. After crunching the video, a .gif file is presented and you can be on your way. The whole process is looped on the site’s homepage as well. LICEcap is alternative screen capture program that can record directly to .gif, but in comparison, Recordit has taken simplicity to another level.
Gif Remixer is an iPhone app that puts a little spin on GIF creation by letting you add sound. You can search their audio repository or record your own voice. The biggest challenge is narrowing down what sound you’re going for, and then finding it. But again, you can always make the sound effect yourself.
A popular Mac app, Gif Brewery, is trying to take the legwork out for users that have personal videos on their main machines and want to convert short clips directly to GIFs.
The app allows users more customization options than some of the web or mobile apps, like amount of frames and adding delays. Plus there’s also support for playing clips in reverse, text overlays, and color effects.
One thing it also has is mixed reviews, it seems to be a favorite or a flop, but the app is still being updated regularly.
Gifpop lets you create your own physical GIF cards. That’s right, you can make your own or choose between a few artist prints and hold a GIF in your hands.
Gifpop's physical GIFs are created by printing up to 10 frames on lenticular paper. It's a special solution that Gifpop worked on and originally put on sale through a Kickstarter project. The cards have since blossomed into its own business available to anyone.
Custom GIF prints you can make are available for $12 or $15, while artist prints range from $20 for a 3"x3" to $100 for a 10"x10" version.
GifYourself is another handy way to personalize the sentiment you’re trying to convey.
The iPhone app is all about instant gratification. GIFs are sorted into basic categories—including sponsored images—with each category filled with a manageable amount of GIFs, as opposed to several hundred of them.
Adding your face to a popular GIF can provide for quite a few laughs, but the results aren’t perfect. As you might expect, adding a layer to something moving can be difficult to maintain the illusion. Still, it gets the job done and quick enough to use as a response to a text message.
Because you’re able to use existing photos from your camera roll, in addition to taking new pictures, there’s also the possibility of using other people’s faces. Just use this feature wisely.
[Image: Flickr user Vancouver Film School]