If you’ve ever said, I wish I could hold that GIF in my hand, there are now several services that will help you do that. Actually, there’s been several similar options dating as far back as the 19th century.

Zoopraxiscope by Edweard Muybridge

Inventions like the zoetrope, the zoopraxiscope, the flip book, the praxinoscope, the thaumatrope, the phenakistoscope, and, more recently, the lenticular and streoscopic print, have all relied on the optical illusion known as the persistence of vision to simulate motion. In order for your GIFs to materialize in the same way you would need a modern-day vendor willing to take the parsed…

Giphy GIF-making suite of web tools

If you choose to Create an animated GIF from the Giphy site, you will be presented with four similar creation tools, each serving a distinct GIF-making scenario.

GIF Maker

Gif Maker is a general purpose GIF creator allowing you to start with either your own video files (up to 100MB), or the URL of a video from many popular video sites (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, and Vine).

My favorite feature of Giphy’s GIF Maker is a technique I rarely employ when creating animated GIFs — adding captions. With a choice of three fonts styled properly for a meme, entering centered text (the only…

Photoscape X’s App Icon

Photoscape X is primarily a photo editing suite that includes GIF-creation as a supplementary part of the app.

Giphy Capture App Icon

Screen captures, camera captures, standalone video files, and video URLs — these are the basic source materials that creators of animated GIFs must become familiar working with. With Giphy’s latest app, Giphy Capture, the company now offers easy and effective ways of handling material from all four sources.

My favorite features of Giphy Capture don’t have anything to do with how well it captures, but the UI choices that were made to illuminate the path towards a successful screen capture.

For example, the draggable corner is relatively sparse, except for the stripes that signify that the corner is draggable. But…

Giphy Cam App Icon

Giphy Cam for iOS was first released in August 2015 and has been tied to several well-known advertising campaigns including the release of the new X-Files series, and the opening of Star Wars Episode VII — The Force Awakens. The app allows you to capture picture bursts that are converted in animated GIFs, but also allows you to modify any image, video, or existing GIF (!) on your camera roll.

As you might have guessed, my favorite feature of the app is its ability to modify existing animated GIFs. The Camera Roll on any iOS device does not, as of…

Vhoto App Icon

This was a sad message for me that the team at Vhoto tweeted last fall when they were acquired by Hulu. I am grateful, though, that the app is still available in the App Store, and that they have even managed to update the app when it was crashing a couple of weeks ago.

Splitting an animated GIF file up into its composing frames/images (also known as exploding GIFs, decompiling GIFs, or GIF frame extraction) is a fairly common practical need for GIF creators.

Timeline Editor in Photoshop

Chronophotography, on the other hand — the study of movement using still photography—is a much more esoteric practice popularized by the work of Edweard Muybridge and Harold Eugene Edgerton. As an animator, I have always found prints by Edweard Muybridge and the work of Harold Eugene Edgerton not only extremely useful to study natural motion, but outstanding art in their own right; a satisfying hybrid of photography and film. …

Principle for Mac App Icon

Principle is not a traditional GIF app. It is primarily an interactive prototyping tool, and creating GIFs is simply an ancillary feature for allowing users to export their Principle creations to share, in many cases, on Dribbble.

I’ve said before that any GIF creation tool worth its salt should be mindful of the user’s intended use for the GIF, and this is exactly what Principle does. My favorite feature is that Principle offers Dribbble shot sizes (1x and 2x) among the many presets available from the start of your creation experience.

When anyone says GIF nowadays they are almost always referring to animated GIFs. This linguistic phenomena is commonly known as synecdoche—a figure of speech where a part represents the whole, or vice versa—and has seemed to happen within the last few years.

You’re welcome, linguists.

The GIF file format, of course, can exist as both a still image, and as an animated series of images. Even though GIFs were never “intended as a platform for animation…,” both manifestations of the file format have been serving internet culture quite well for some time.

“The Graphics Interchange Format is not intended as a platform for…

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