A Comparison of Free(ish) Online Tools

One of PN’s wonderful clients recently requested assistance in converting some video footage that they had into a gif file format so that they can use it as an email header in their EDMs. While I had played with a free gif-making tool for frivolous reasons before, this was the first time that I was asked to produce gif files at a professional level. These gifs would be used in the client’s marketing collateral so the exported gif files needed to be of a high quality (a lot of gif-making-tools lose a lot of the image quality on export, which is why so many meme gifs are a bit blurry), it also needed to be free of any logos or branding and I needed to be able to export it in different dimensions.

Sounds like a simple enough task right? Errr….

And So I Gallantly Set Upon My Task of Locating the Best GIF-Making-Tool That the Internet Has to Offer!*
*First things first: ‘gif’ is pronounced ‘jif’ – just like gin. Don’t believe me? The ‘inventors’ of the gif file type have declared it so, check my reliable resource here.

Ultimate GIF-Making Marking Criteria:

I’ve listed some of the different criteria that I considered when assessing each gif-making platform below:

  • Branded – As I am using these gifs in various different marketing activities, the final exported gif needs to have little-to-no branding for the gif-maker on it.
  • Export Quality – Often gif makers lose a lot of image quality when exporting the final file. The level of quality needs to be high enough to be used in my client’s marketing collateral.
  • FREE – pretty obvious here, I don’t want to have to pay a hefty membership fee for a tool I’m only going to use a handful of times a year.

1. Gifs – Gifs.com

Notes:

  • You have the option to either download or embed the file – I have used the ’embed’ option above.
  • The embed version doesn’t allow you to change the dimensions of the file – if you try, it just adds extra black padding to the file.
  • The download option has a noticible loss of quality, especially if you try to increase its size. It also has a ‘gif.com’ watermark which cannot be removed.
  • Easy to use interface; selecting the section of the video that you want to gif-ify is reasonably easy and there are options to add text/subtitles as well as a bunch of other editing settings.

2. Giphy – www.giphy.com

Notes:

  • You can upload a video or paste a link to an existing video file, including videos uploaded to YouTube.
  • No Giphy branding added to final export file, but there is an overlay when you use the embed file (above, hover on the gif and you’ll see a Gify logo pop up).
  • The image is exported at 480 pixels wide and you can change the dimensions, however when you do this there is a loss of quality.
  • Kinda difficult to use interface – the process of selecting which section of the video to turn into a gif seems unnecessarily complicated and is a bit tedious.

3. Make A Gif – www.makeagif.com

Notes:

  • Three levels of membership: the gif above was created using the ‘Free Registered Membership’ level, which allows you to remove Make a Gif’s branding in exchange for your soul email address.
  • They have a paid version which allows you to export in higher qualities and dimensions, however it costs $11.99/month (US dollars, obvs.).
  • You can create GIFs using different media – upload your own video, use a link to an existing video (including on YouTube) or upload a bunch of photos and it will turn it into a gif for you.
  • It does not have an ’embed’ option like other platforms do. This is an issue because a lot of platforms (including WordPress) cannot read a gif file unless it is in an iframe. This isn’t the end of the world – for the example above I just coded my own iframe, but this would be problematic for users who aren’t great with html coding.

Conclusion:

If you are creating gifs for use on social media posts then I think any of these options are fine to use – I would probably recommend either gifs.com or Make a Gif, simply because their interfaces are easier to use. If you are creating gifs for use in other collateral such as blog posts or email headers then I would definately recommend forking out the $12 and getting a premium account with Make a Gif – you can always cancel the account after just one month if you only need a few.

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