Create Animated Gifs from Movie Clips

Apr 8, 2008
Updated • Dec 20, 2012
Music and Video

Animated gif files are a great way to get your profile pic or avatar to really stand out from the rest of the crowd. I’ve seen software that will make gifs for you but Noah has figured out a method to create animated gifs from a video clip using two of the most popular open source programs, Mplayer and Gimp. Noah’s method is primarily written for the Linux user but it works fine on Windows as well.

Before I give Noah’s method, I’d like to mention that there is a way to create animated gifs directly with MPlayer. However, the resultant gif file can sometimes be very strange-looking so it’s not very reliable. Anyway, once you figure out what video clip to use, let’s begin. Fire up MPlayer and switch to command-line operation. Then type in the following command:

mplayer -ao null -loop 0 -ss 0:11:22 -endpos 5 file.avi

This command allows you to preview what your final gif will look like. In this instance, I’ve selected a 5 second clip and looped it so it keeps repeating. If you’re satisfied with the clip, proceed to the next step.

mplayer -ao null -ss 0:11:22 -endpos 5 file.avi -vo jpeg:outdir=gifmovie

This command tells MPlayer to export your 5-second clip as a series of jpeg images to the specified folder, which in this case is ‘gifmovie’. After this step, MPlayer’s work is done and it’s time to switch to Gimp. This is where you convert the jpeg files into your gif.

Open the first jpeg image in your directory using Gimp. Then, open the rest of the images in the folder as layers (File > Open as layer). Now, all you have to do is save the file as a gif (File > Save As). In the resultant dialog box, check the ‘save as animation’ and ‘loop forever’ options. Then, click on ‘Export’ and your animated gif is ready.

You need to play around a bit with the options in Gimp if you want to add fancy effects and things like that. I tried this out and I was quite happy with my gif file. It requires a bit of practice but once you have a basic idea of where things are, it’s a breeze. Have you ever tried making an animated gif file? What program did you use? What do you think of Noah’s method?


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  1. DemiRod said on August 24, 2009 at 8:41 am

    confessed noob. how exactly do you switch to command line operation?

  2. Jedi said on April 11, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Hmmm interesting though am not sure if I have much use for it. I wonder if short flash movies can be made into GIFS. True could convert the SWF into a video then use your method. Do instant messengers like Yahoo, MSN or Gtalk support GIFS I think only AOL’s messenger has that kind of support. Still its another tit bit to go into the old tool box for later. Thanks again Cheryl. How about posting a sample of your GIFs that you created using this method some time.

  3. Naren said on April 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I don’t use animated gifs that much but this article giving me some ideas.

  4. Arno said on April 10, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Hi Cheryl,

    well, I need that commandline application to call it from a PHP script to do the job for users. An online transformation service is not the solution in this case, the pictures must not leave the intranet.


  5. Spinner said on April 9, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Hwy! This looks cool. I’ve never made an animated gif before but I’m willing to give it a shot with this method.

  6. Cheryl said on April 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm


    Have you tried It’s an online conversion application.

  7. Roman ShaRP said on April 9, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for advice. I will try it.

  8. Arno said on April 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Hi Cheryl,

    I am searching for quite some time now for an application, transforming a series of JPG separate files into a proper quicktime object movie. This should be rather a commandline application.

    I’m really needing this one. If you or someone else knew such a tool, this would be great.


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