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how to create animated gif

Some people asked how I created the animated .gifs similar to the ones I gave away for free in this recent blog post. So today I’ll share a simple way to create them.

Start with Animated .Gif Software

There are a number of tools to create animated .gifs. I’m going to focus on just one for this post.

ScreenToGif is free and you don’t need to install it. Just run the .EXE file. It’s a great product and I use it all the time for quick demos or some of the animations I use in the blog.

I’m not going to do an exhaustive overview, so I recommend downloading the app and playing with it a bit. It’s intuitive and easy to figure out. As a side note, if you do use it, I encourage supporting the developer.

Understanding the Cover Image .Gifs

Cover images are mostly decorative. And because of the responsive nature of the Rise courses, the cover image gets cropped based on the screen’s aspect ratio. That means what you see in portrait won’t look the same in landscape.

animated .gif responsive design

The key is keep the cover images simple. Animated .gifs can become very large files. The more visual information on the screen, the larger the file size. And if the file is too large, it’ll take too long to download and ruin the effect and experience.

Stick with fewer colors. Solid backgrounds are good because you don’t get that blocky color striping that you get with pictures.

We’ll look at two ways to create the cover image animated .gifs. One way is by recording something onscreen and the other is to import a video.

Record Screen to Create Animated .Gif

The easiest thing it to play a video and record the screen. Then do some basic editing. Since the animated .gif is decorative, you just need something simple. The key is not to have a massive file. The more you record, the larger the file.

View the animated .gif tutorial on Youtube

Once you have a recording, figure out what you want and where to cut it. Again, I look for something simple that looks good looping. Subtle movements or repeating animations (like a spinning gear) work perfectly.

It does take some messing around. I usually do a basic edit and then save the file to see how large it is. Then I play around with more edits and image size to find the right balance between quality and file size.

You’ll have a lot more luck recording vector images that are solid versus photos. The less the screen has to change from one frame to the next, the better quality you’ll get and smaller file size.

For the .gifs where the quality doesn’t look as good, I set the cover images’s overlay color darker. This way the text really pops off the screen and the animation quality isn’t as much of an issue. That’s what I did in this example where there were so many colors it just didn’t look as good as I wanted.

Import a Video to Create Animated .Gif

ScreenToGif makes it really easy to import a video. It breaks down all the frames and from there it’s just a matter of editing it to what you want.

Just like above, play around with different settings to see what gives you the right balance between file size and quality. And keep in mind, they’re header images so subtle movement is fine. For this overhead desk video, I just focused on the pencil moving and cut out hundreds of frames.

View the animated .gif tutorial on Youtube

Bonus tips:

  • You won’t get crisp images because the file size needs to be manageable. I try not to go over 1.5 MB. That’s why you have to play around with settings that strike the right balance.
  • You need to test different dimensions, but I generally keep the images somewhere between a 16:9 and 2:1 aspect ratio. There’s no golden rule. It’s mostly based on what you are showing. The image is going to crop based on the screen, anyway. I make different versions and modify the image size to see what I get for file size and quality.

animated gifs from vector videos

  • Solid and/or fewer colors is best. There are a lot of free or inexpensive ways to create simple vector-based animation videos. That’s what I did to create these two headers above which you can see in these two examples: Call Center and Team Meeting. I inserted some animated characters and published a video. Then I made the .gif from the video. Because I’m not building a big animated explainer video, this only took a few minutes to do and looks decent.

Animated .gifs add some flavor and visual novelty to your courses. And as you can see, they’re easy to create.


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One response to “How to Make Animated Gifs from Video”

Good stuff, as always. Are there any plans to add functionality to Rise that will just let the user add a silent video as the header?