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GIF creation and experimentation


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I am teaching myself how to create videos and .gif files by experimenting with pictures. Surprisingly, I have only spent an hour working on this craft. I have no complete movie files to show at this time. However, the Chrono Trigger gif I have created is presentable.

ctloveemotion.gif

The mistake I made: the words "Love and Emotion" are too dark, and I believe that some of the frames weren't centered in the exact same plane, but that's nothing. (Edit: the words "Love and Emotion are text effects that bear the colors of the following picture, which are set to begin a smooth transition).

Use the CT gif as much as you want (I have no rights to the Chrono Trigger game series, plus it's nothing but a lil' graphic file, no big deal). I am only posting to get some opinions on my experimentation. So, do the rest of you have any gifs that you've created?

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I like the idea, definitely has potential. Still, as you said, the presentation is shakey and really needs some improvement. The animation, too, is inconsistant, being that it's very slow and jerky in the beginning, while speeding up too quickly at the end.

Keep working at it though. There's plenty of room to grow.

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The problem is that .gif is a very lossy format and it's very difficult to get smooth animation.

However, every medium has it's challenges and I'd say it'd be fun to keep working on it anyway. I bet once you get the hang of it you can work around the limitations and challenges and create something really good :)

I don't exactly have anything to show .gif wise. I did make an animation with MSPaint, playing well over 6000 frames on an oldschool slideshow program with intervals of less than one second between each frame. This resulted in a good 15 minutes of "film" :D

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The problem is that .gif is a very lossy format and it's very difficult to get smooth animation.

Internet browsers do more to hinder the animation of gifs than anything else does, due to the down throttling that so many of them have. When many browsers only let a gif play at what amounts to a .1 frame delay in terms of maximum speed, you're going to have a tough time making something move around smoothly. You can still make things well animated by giving it plenty of frames of animation, but making them move across the screen smoothly becomes more of a problem... especially if the object is covering a decent distance with each frame, as it can then start looking choppy. If those browsers would just run gifs like FireFox does (no down throttling), things would be much better for giffing. A gif that's made to run at a .05 delay, and is able to do so, can look so nice in motion :-)

Yeah, the color loss is rough sometimes (dear God did I do some heavy optimizing for my X-Mas sig), but gifs were never really meant for high color photographs and heavy gradation usage (though they can still look good with some dithering and such). Some people forget that, and then get pissed at how grainy things look after they've compressed several thousand colors to just a fraction of that. They need to keep in mind that they have 256 total colors to use... no more. If they do that, and plan accordingly, their end results would be much better.

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LOL, that's right, you would know :D

"However, every medium has it's challenges and I'd say it'd be fun to keep working on it anyway. I bet once you get the hang of it you can work around the limitations and challenges and create something really good :)"

So yeah, knowing what you can and can't do with gif would be a good start for the OP. As Coop said, you don't have access to yer usual millions of colors, but rather only 256.

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Fireworks has a way to export a GIF as "exact", which implies to me that it's lossless... is there something that I don't know?

Fireworks likes to trim away what it considers "unused colors". It'll take colors that are nearly identical in hue, or that are rarely used throughout the gif, and either choose what it feels is the best one (getting rid of the rest), or replace it with another very close color that's used more. This is done to help keep the file size down, but it can also lead to visual issues sometimes. The "exact" option means that it doesn't do any of that trimming, and leaves in every color that it can. You still get only 256 colors though, so it's a bit misleading.

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macroidtoe.gif

I've only messed with animated gifs a bit, but I usually use a combination of Paint Shop Pro to create the frames and the included Animation Shop to put them together/apply transition effects to smooth things out.

SUPER%20MARIO%20BLITZKRIEG.gif

With stuff like that, it's usually just a matter of being very systematic. Although one thing worth noting, I created each of the separate components (marching Toads, tanks, Mario) as separate animations first, and then put them together on the background. That way, I can still go back and add more if I want to later (like some zeppelins up in the air... the tanks could also stand to be smoothed out a bit).

Another trick worth mentioning, is that I sometimes create a separate layer of bright green or magenta dots and lines to serve as reference points -- to make sure that a certain character stays in the same spot from frame to frame, or moves a consistent distance with each frame. I of course delete this layer from the frames when I no longer need it.

countess3.gif

And one other thing that's kind of fun and easy to do (and thus makes good practice to get down the basics) is to use screenshots from games as your frames, resize them down, and then just experiment with the frame speeds to get a feel for how you can string things together. Although when using game screens, you especially run into the problems everyone has mentioned about color optimization, so it might take some tweaking to find an acceptable balance between color, image dimensions, and file size (looking at that one, I could probably crop the top and bottom of the screen a bit and thereby knock a significant amount off the file size). One of the many assassinations perpetrated by the mad bomber Ophidios on the nobility of Cyrodiil...

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