Making The GIF

Sometimes there's more beauty in the single frame - Rick Yeatts

This just in: "GIF" has been chosen as word of the year by the Oxford American Dictionary.

It's true. GIF is the word of the year. It only makes sense. No other word is as closely associated with Elvis Andrus riding on an elephant.

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It's about time GIF received its moment in the sun, if you ask me. For in the world of the Internet, the .gif remains -- especially perhaps in sports community -- the easiest way to re-live remarkable moments in time. The looped comedy of animated .gifs pepper the comments of nearly every community commentariat.

As such, folks often ask how I make .gifs. So, I wanted to make a tutorial so that we can all share in the joy of .gif creation. Let's say for example you wanted a .gif of Yu Darvish's first big league strikeout with the Texas Rangers so you can remember that moment, but surely not that inning, forever.

First things first: You're going to need a few items. For example, you're going to need a computer. I'm sorry iPad users.

In the steps below I grab the video to create the .gif using MLB.tv. For many moments you'll want to capture, you'll also need MLB.tv. Of course, you could probably grab the video of Yu's first strikeout by looking at the highlights on MLB.com, but if you were wanting to create this .gif in real time, you'd obviously need MLB.tv.

An alternative solution I found last season was capturing via the Slingbox in-browser viewer, should you have Slingbox service. Or, perhaps the simplest solution of all would be using a TV Tuner on your computer and capture software.

Speaking of, you will also need a couple of software applications. I use a product called Snagit by TechSmith to capture the video and save it to my computer and Jasc Animation Shop 3 to edit and publish the .gif file. Animation Shop is fairly old software but very effective for making GIFs. You can also use GIMP or Photoshop to make GIFs but I haven't used either so the tutorial will demonstrate using JAS3.

Step 1. Find your video source:

Since we're making a .gif of Yu's first K, we need to go to MLB.com's video section and select "Watch/Listen."

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Select the date of the game you're going to be capturing video from and then find the game you're looking for.

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In this case, we're going for the Monday, April 9 game against the Seattle Mariners which marked Yu Darvish's first big league start. From here, select "Watch" or you can click "FSSW-HD" feed just so you don't end up with the ROOT Sports feed and are suddenly faced with hearing Rick Rizzs speak.

Step 2. Capture your video:

As the video loads up, click to run Snagit.

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This is Snagit. I've set it to capture "All-in-One" which allows me to select which part of the screen I want to record. I've also set it to not display my cursor while recording or record the any audio along with the video.

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Now that you have Snagit up and ready and the video has loaded, you can select from individual at-bats and click the one you wish to view. In this case, you'd select Dustin Ackley's at-bat in the top of the 1st inning which you can see resulted in a strikeout.

To select which part of the screen you want to record, you'll click on the big red capture button on Snagit (or, the default Print Screen [prt scr] hotkey).

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Now you'll click in a corner of the area you'll want to record and drag your cursor to the opposite corner to highlight the video area.

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Once you have the area you want to record highlighted, a dialog box will display and the area you will record on the screen will be marked.

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In the video, Darvish has Ackley in a two-strike count so I click the "Start" button in the dialog box to begin my video capture.

After you have witnessed Darvish strikeout Ackley, you can stop the recording by clicking on Snagit and clicking "Stop" on the dialog box, or you can press the Print Screen key on your keyboard once again.

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Once stopped, the video loads in the Snagit Editor which allows you to preview the video you just captured and save the recording as an AVI file.

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And just like that you've ripped video from the web to your computer as a beautiful, exploitable AVI file. You're practically a god now.

Step 3. Turning video into a GIF:

Now that you have your video rip, it's time to open Jasc Animation Shop or whatever image editing software you are familiar with that allows for GIF creation (GIMP/Photoshop).

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Open the AVI file in JAS3.

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You'll be presented with some import options. If you know you recorded more at the beginning or end of your video than you intend to keep, you can select which frames you want to import or, if you're unsure, you can leave it on the default "All frames". Once you're ready, click "Ok".

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There is a plethora of options available for you to edit the frames of your video. But the first thing you'll want to do is resize the frames to a LSB friendly width or height.

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Afterward, you'll want to trim down the frames of your video to only leave in the frames you want for your .gif.

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As you can see here, there was 64 frames at the beginning of my video that I do not want to include in my .gif. I've selected those frames and right clicked to cut or delete them. You would then do the same with any extraneous frames at the end of the video.

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The video is now edited down to the essential 49 frames. Now you can do more nuanced things like adjust the display time of an individual frame.

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In the example here, I've right clicked and selected "Frame Properties" on the last frame and changed the display time from 6/100th of a second to half a second to give the final frame a beat before the .gif loops again.

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Now that the frames for your .gif have been sized, culled and edited, you can preview how the .gif will look by clicking the "View Animation" button. Should the .gif not look quite right, you can edit some more. But seeing how this is just a direct rip of video, you should be ready to save your GIF file.

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To save, you'll click on "File" and then "Save As" to bring up the save dialog box. Select where you want to save your file, name your .gif something awesome like "YusfirstK", select CompuServe Graphics Interchange (GIF) as the "Save as type" and then click "Save".

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A new dialog box will appear allowing you to adjust the quality of your file. The better the quality, the larger the file size. Since this is only 49 frames at fairly small dimensions, saving at the best quality is appropriate. Should your .gif contain a lot of frames or you size it bigger, you might want to adjust the quality to avoid having an obnoxiously large file.

Animation Shop will do its wizard magic and optimize your file and once you click "Finish"...

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Congratulations, you've got yourself a .gif!

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Step 4. Uploading your GIF:

Now that you have your .gif you'll want to share it with the GIF-starved masses.

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The file is under 2MB so we can upload it to imgur. (Note: If the file is over 2MB, you'll have to upload it to a different service such as min.us, photobucket, or for you one-percenters, you can always use your own webspace.)

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Go to imgur.com and simply drag and drop your .gif on to the website and click "Start Upload".

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Once uploaded, your .gif has now entered the eternity of the Internet and is ready for consumption.

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Step 5. Post your .gif on LSB:

Now that you have a .gif of Yu Darvish's first big league strikeout, you should share it with Lone Star Ball.

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On the page where you uploaded your .gif on imgur, click on "copy" by "Direct Link (email & IM)" and that will copy the imgur URL of your .gif to your clipboard.

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On LSB, click on the comment you want to reply to, or scroll down to post a new comment, enter in your awesome subject, click the little tree image icon to open the image URL dialog box, paste in the URL from imgur, and click "OK" on the dialog box.

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Also, before clicking "POST", always click "PREVIEW" to view what your comment will look like. Once you're satisfied with your comment, click "POST" to send it off to be judged by like a thousand dudes.

Or, if you're like me, you can post your .gif from the future for the present in the past.

So there you go. That's how I make .gifs. It might seem like a lot of work but I've gotten to where I can be watching a game and go from seeing something awesome to posting a GIF of it in five minutes or less. And now you can too.

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This post is sponsored by Jack in the Box.

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