Convert a Mov to a GIF like a boss

So, there’s this swell Gist to convert an OS X screencast made with ScreenFlow from a movie (.mov) file to a GIF. I needed this for a new-user email I need to send out to fresh NeonMobsters. The problem with this, though, is that the output of this command was shit:

ffmpeg -i -s 600x400 -pix_fmt rgb24 -r 10 -f gif — | gifsicle — optimize=3 — delay=3 > out.gif

No, seriously — not just shit, but 2.3MB of heinousness:

I’m am not sending this out to new users.

So I started poking around and discovered that 1) I should install ffmeg and gifsicle and then 2) do something way more complicated, but that would give me the results I was looking for (a beautiful image that was tiny). Here’s basically what I ended up doing, after installing those binaries:

  1. The video that I had was a 2.5MB .mov file, encoded with the Animation codec at full resolution, recorded on my Retina MacBook Pro. This means that I had a file that was 2x the size I wanted it to be, which was intentional.
  2. In the directory where my movie ( was, I executed these commands in to convert the movie to a bunch of PNGs:
mkdir ./pngs 
ffmpeg -i -r 10 ./pngs/out%04d.png
  1. Next, I ran these commands to create a directory and convert all these PNGs into GIFs (sips is built in to OS X):
mkdir ./gifs
sips -s format gif .pngs/*.png — out ./gifs
  1. Finally, I ran these command to generate the GIF from my recently generated GIFs:
cd ./gifs
gifsicle — optimize=3 — delay=3 — loopcount *.gif > animation.gif

The result is nearly identical to the source video and clocks in at an amazing 76KB:

I then decided to resize the image by 50% to get it back to a non-Retina size using the — resize command:

gifsicle *.gif — optimize=3 — delay=3 — loopcount — resize 238x272 > animation-small.gif

…and ended up with a 40KB image I can use:

I’m sure this technique won’t work for everyone — as it’s highly dependent on the video source that you’re working with, but it should give you a place to start from if you’re trying to do something similar.

For additional gifsicle commands and optimizations, refer to the developer docs.

Originally published at on November 13, 2013.

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