• Foto Ruta: How to Make a GIF

    Foto Ruta: How to Make a GIF

    One of the most memorizing advents of the internet is “The GIF.” Nowadays, we see them everywhere. GIFS are moments from film and photography that are endlessly looped to repeat. They are surprisingly quick and easy to make. You can use images from both your still or motion camera to create them. The only software you need to make a GIF is iMovie (or equivalent), as well as Quicktime and Photoshop.

    The Obelisk courtesy of photos from the Foto Ruta Facebook Page

    This GIF was created by sequencing together a series of still images

    What Is In a Frame?

    The first step is to get your head around the concept of “frames.” Any film or animation is made up of a series of still-images called “frames.” These frames are sequenced together to give the illusion of movement. Remember back to childhood and playing with the flipbook? Each image changed slightly to create the impression of motion.

    Flipbook GIF courtesy of Chica Miniatures

    The same ‘flipbook principle’ applies here. Your sequence will be made up of a series of still-images (or ‘frames’) that must be trimmed down and then looped. It is not essential to get bogged down in all this film-jargon. Just remember that the first and last “frame” of your sequence must be identical. (And if not identical, then the first and last frame must be almost exactly the same).

    In most cases, if the first and final frame are different then “the loop” will not be seamless.

    Choosing Your Subject

    The best GIFS are very simple. The image below displays how looping a short sequence can be beautiful. Feel free to use either still or motion images. If sequencing together still-images, shoot the subject with the flipbook principle in mind. Movement between frames should be minimal. The first and last frames need particular attention as they must match.

    This GIF features an extract from the film The Red Shoes (1948) Photo taken from Cary Granted (tumblr); creator unknown

    The first GIF of The Obelisk was created solely via still-images. Notice that it is only the colour that changes from frame to frame. The actual figure does not move at all. There are a multitude of options when sequencing your GIF, and you do not necessarily need movement.

    Make your GIF

    Once you have shot your sequence, turn it into a movie.  Import the frames into a simple film editing program like iMovie.

    If using iMovie, do yourself a big favour and turn the annoying “Ken Burns Effect” off. (Do this by highlighting all the frames and pressing “Fit”). Also make sure to set the Duration of each frame (or “clip”) to 0.04 seconds. It is vital that all the frames are set to the same time-frame.


    Once you are happy with the sequence, export the project using Quicktime. Save the Quicktime project to your desktop so that it is easy to locate. After the film has been successfully imported, open Photoshop and go through the following steps.

    1. Once in Photoshop. Press “File”, to open “Import”; then press “Video Frames to Layers.”
    2. Now, set the quality of your image. Press “File” then “Save for Web”.
    3. Once this prompt opens, set your “Colours” to a high setting (about 256). Keep the “Dither” high and the “Lossy” low.
    4. Click “Save.”

    Congratulations, you have just created your first GIF!

    Now that you know how to make a GIF, we’d love to see the what you create with this post. Please share your creations with us on our Facebook page, or submit them in the comments section below.


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