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I want make an animated .gif from an .mp4 video. I would prefer to do it from the command line, so please only list command line tools.

  • You can use this script on Github that uses FFMPEG and generates intermediate color palette for better picture quality. – troyane Apr 24 '19 at 8:36
185

ffmpeg 3.4.4 can do it directly on Ubuntu 18.04

You likely want to use something like:

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg
wget -O opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4 https://github.com/cirosantilli/media/blob/master/opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4?raw=true
ulimit -Sv 1000000
ffmpeg \
  -i opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4 \
  -r 15 \
  -vf scale=512:-1 \
  -ss 00:00:03 -to 00:00:06 \
  opengl-rotating-triangle.gif

opengl-rotating-triangle.gif

enter image description here

Image info: 426kB, 45 frames, 512x512 apparent size, coalesced, conversion time on a Lenovo P51: 0.5s.

Test data generation procedure described on this post.

The output has a visible dotting pattern, which is not as visible in "ffmpeg + convert" method below. We can try to improve the image quality with methods described at:

E.g. using the palettegen filter:

ffmpeg \
  -i opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4 \
  -r 15 \
  -vf "scale=512:-1,split[s0][s1];[s0]palettegen[p];[s1][p]paletteuse" \
  -ss 00:00:03 -to 00:00:06 \
  opengl-rotating-triangle-palettegen.gif

opengl-rotating-triangle-palettegen.gif

enter image description here

Image info: 979K, 45 frames, 512x512 apparent size, coalesced, conversion time on a Lenovo P51: 3.5s.

So we see that:

  • the dotting pattern is much less visible now
  • GIF size roughly doubled. TODO: why does simply choosing a palette increase the image size? Is it because now more colors so we need more bits per color? How to observe each palette?
  • generation time was 7x slower, presumably because ffmpeg is first scanning through the entire video to determine an optimal palette

We could also play with documented palettegen parameters like palettegen=max_colors=16 to achieve different size quality trade-off points.

Video camera footage example

If you want to see the result quality of a video camera video from Wikimedia Commons with a similar command:

wget https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/STS-132_Liftoff_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis.ogv
ffmpeg -i STS-132_Liftoff_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis.ogv -r 15 -vf scale=512:-1 \
  -ss 00:00:17 -to 00:00:22 STS-132_Liftoff_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis.gif

STS-132_Liftoff_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis.gif

enter image description here

Image info: 1.3MB, 75 frames, 512x288 apparent size, coalesced (has minimal effect however, because footage pans slightly from the start), conversion time on a Lenovo P51: 2.3s.

Here is a version with palettegen but only 2 seconds to fit the 2MiB upload limit:

enter image description here

Image info: 1.5MB, 30 frames, 512x288 apparent size, conversion time on a Lenovo P51: 43s.

A more direct:

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg
ffmpeg -i in.mp4 out.gif

also works, but the output GIF would be way larger than the input video, because video formats can compress more efficiently across frames with advanced algorithms, while GIF can only does a simple rectangular frame diff.

Argument breakdown

Before pre 18.04: ffmpeg + convert one-liner without intermediate files

ffmpeg could not handle GIF previously. The best I had was something along:

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg imagemagick
ffmpeg -i opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4 -r 15 -vf scale=512:-1 \
  -ss 00:00:03 -to 00:00:06 -f image2pipe -vcodec ppm - |
  convert -deconstruct -delay 5 -loop 0 - opengl-rotating-triangle-image-magick.gif

opengl-rotating-triangle-image-magick.gif

enter image description here

Image info: 995kB, 45 frames, 512x512 apparent size, coalesced.

For the Atlantis shuttle footage, and analogous:

ffmpeg -i STS-132_Liftoff_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis.ogv -r 15 -vf scale=512:-1 \
  -ss 00:00:17 -to 00:00:22 -f image2pipe -vcodec ppm - |
  convert -deconstruct -delay 5 -loop 0 - STS-132_Liftoff_Space_Shuttle_Atlantis_512x.gif

produced better looking output, but the final GIF was considerably larger at 6.2MB, so I can't upload it.

Explanation of some of the arguments:

Even if you reduce the height and framerate, the output GIF may still be larger than the video, since "real" non-GIF video formats compress across frames, while GIF only compresses individual frames.

A direct:

convert input.mp4 rpi2-bare-metal-blink.gif

worked, but almost killed my computer because of memory overflow, and produced an ouptput 100x larger for my 2s 1Mb input file. Maybe one day ImageMagick will catch up.

See also: https://superuser.com/questions/556029/how-do-i-convert-a-video-to-gif-using-ffmpeg-with-reasonable-quality

Tested on Ubuntu 17.10.

Gifski

https://gif.ski/

This is another option that was brought to my attention and which claims intelligent algorithms, so let's try it out.

First we need to convert the video to a sequence of images, and then feed that into gifsky, e.g.:

sudo snap install gifski
mkdir -p frames
ffmpeg \
  -i opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4 \
  -r 15 \
  -vf scale=512:-1 \
  -ss 00:00:03 -to 00:00:06 \
  frames/%04d.png
gifski -o opengl-rotating-triangle-gifski.gif frames/*.png

opengl-rotating-triangle-gifski.gif

enter image description here

Image info: 954K, 45 frames, 512x512 apparent size, not coalesced, conversion time on a Lenovo P51: 4.8s.

And the 2s STS:

enter image description here

Image info: 1.6M, 30 frames, 512x288 apparent size, not coalesced, conversion time on a Lenovo P51: 2.8s.

So for me, subjectively, this did not appear to offer significant benefit over ffmpeg's palettegen.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Downvoters please explain ;-) – Ciro Santilli 郝海东冠状病六四事件法轮功 Oct 21 '16 at 17:49
  • 1
    Your delay does not match your -r value (the resulting gif is 2x speed). Also you added a scale argument for no apparent reason (it makes the gif really small). – asmeurer Oct 21 '16 at 17:51
  • 2
    I agree. Small size gifs are better for web. Thanks for scale=320:-1 – zombic Oct 26 '16 at 8:26
  • 2
    For those who are wondering: removing -r 10 will bring the GIF back to normal speed. – Mitch Feb 13 '17 at 8:05
  • 2
    I got a gif 20% bigger than the mp4 :O – Adam Goldman May 11 '17 at 2:39
120

Two steps:

  • Extract Images from Video

    Create a directory called frames in the same directory with your .mp4 file. Use command:

    ffmpeg -i video.mp4  -r 5 'frames/frame-%03d.jpg'
    


    -r 5 stands for FPS value
        for better quality choose bigger number
        adjust the value with the -delay in 2nd step
        to keep the same animation speed
    
    %03d gives sequential filename number in decimal form
    

    source

  • Convert Images to gif

    cd frames
    convert -delay 20 -loop 0 *.jpg myimage.gif
    


    -delay 20 means the time between each frame is 0.2 seconds
       which match 5 fps above.
       When choosing this value
           1 = 100 fps
           2 = 50 fps
           4 = 25 fps
           5 = 20 fps
           10 = 10 fps
           20 = 5 fps
           25 = 4 fps
           50 = 2 fps
           100 = 1 fps
           in general 100/delay = fps
    
    -loop 0 means repeat forever
    

    Docs: convert gif options

You will end up with an rather big file, have a look at the image magick guide to optimize gif on options you can add to the second step command to obtain a smaller file.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    great answer- some additional info: ffmpeg can be installed using directions here – chepyle Mar 29 '16 at 2:02
  • 3
    Keep in mind that the frames folder must exist for the first command to work. – totymedli Jun 7 '17 at 15:09
  • 4
    For those that want a quick way to optimize that generally works and are too lazy to read the link, just add -layers Optimize to the last convert command, before *.jpg. Check the output though, it might be affected. For me it reduced the gif size from 5 MB to 700 KB without any perceivable loss in quality :) – cpury Jul 10 '17 at 8:54
  • Thanks that was an interesting process, a 5.6MB mp4 ended up a 236MB gif, not sure I'll be putting that one up on my website ;) Possibly a gif needs to be limited to seconds rather than a minute. – cardamom Sep 12 '17 at 9:37
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    Instead of using the JPG file format, very lossy with the default settings, I'd recommend using PNG for the initial file export. ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -r 5 'frames/frame-%03d.png'. – Pierre F Jun 7 '18 at 11:15
13

gifify is an all-in-one node-based utility that simplifies the conversion. It depends on nodejs, npm, ffmpeg, and imagemagick which are all available in the repos.

Once you have npm installed you can install gifify globally with:

    npm install -g gifify

A video can be converted to a .GIF with:

    gifify video.mp4 -o video.gif

You can also optionally set a start and end position in the video and add a text caption:

    gifify clip.mp4 -o clip.gif --from 01:48:23.200 --to 01:48:25.300 --text 'we are the knights who say nip!'

❗️ It can take several minutes for the conversion to complete even with smaller videos.

NOTE: ffmpeg and imagemagick might need to be compiled with some specific libraries (i.e. libass and fontconfig accordingly).

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