What the GIF?


In this short tutorial, I'll try my best to explain how I make and acquire the GIFs I'm so famously known for (sarcasm).

First thing's first: What is a GIF? Contrary to unpopular belief, a GIF doesn't always mean an animated picture. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and was made popular thanks to CompuServe. A GIF isn't the only type of image that can be animated. A PNG can be animated as well, though it isn't as popular because older browsers do not support them (most modern browsers should). Simply put, an animated GIF is a series of images (frames) compressed into a single image.

How do I create animated gifs? I use a program called Snagit (PC/Mac (beta) $49) to capture my screen. I save the capture as an AVI (default). Snagit works by replacing your PrintScreen button's default action on your keyboard by selecting an area of the screen that you click on to specify to record. You can record the capture as a PNG, JPG, AVI, etc. (click here to see a demo of what Snagit does)

I select the area of the screen that the video is on, which is usually my web browser. The good thing about Snagit is that it can automatically select objects such as flash plugins (think ESPN3 broadcasts, or YouTube). With the area selected, I play or wait for the action to happen and hit record. When I'm finished, I click stop and it opens the Snagit Editor which allows you to edit the capture with a plethora of options. But I personally edit the capture externally with a different program, Ulead GIF Animator (PC $49).

In Ulead, I open the captured AVI into a new project. Ulead GIF Animator allows me to edit each frame, add text, resize, crop, etc.

If you plan on making animated GIFs, please please please: RESIZE and OPTIMIZE! Don't be the guy to make great animated GIFs, except they come out to 80.5 MB per file. Sometimes there is no other way around it, but 90% of the time there is. If your animated GIF exceeds 10 MB, be kind and hyperlink it instead of embedding it using the IMG tag. For PtR posting, add a hyphen (-) to your subject line when you post an animated GIF as well.

Be sure to tag your gifs so no one steals them!

How do I create animated gifs so quickly? Replays, replays, replays. When I see a really great play, I wait for the replay to play. When the play happens, I'll have already mashed the PrintScreen button, have my area properly selected, and ready to push the REC button when the play is replayed. When I miss the play, and usually what I do, is wait for the halftime/end game highlights and record from NBA.com.

Where do you host the GIFs? I created a free account at TinyPic.com and upload all of them there.

So that's that. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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