Making great GIFs

April 8, 2016

PAX East is just around the corner, and odds are you're working on making the best possible marketing material for your cool new game! The best way to get hype around any game is ensuring you got a good trailer and GIFs that showoff the game. GIFs might be even more important than the trailer as they're super easy to share.

 

Below is my process for making trailers, GIFs, and sharing all of it.

 

 

 

Step 1. Capture gameplay using FRAPS.
 

FRAPS is great at capturing video, and while other tools like Bandicam might be lighter, it's my go-to tool for capturing gameplay footage. FRAPS has been around for a decade and got mass adoption during earlier days of Counter-Strike.

  • Pros - captures great footage

  • Cons - great footage grows fast in size

  • Alternatives - Bandicam or even OBS. In OBS, you can save to local files but need to change the default extension to .mp4 from .flv. Also OBS is free and used by streamers everywhere. Either one works!

 

 

Step 2. Edit the video using Sony Vegas.

 

 

Ever since I touched Sony Vegas, I couldn't go back. The video editor is just so intuitive with visual drag and drop menus and ""what you type is what you get"" style previews. I've been using it for trailers, vines, gifs, whatever. It's great if you like visual editing.

  • Pros - very easy to use

  • Cons - can't really find any

  • Alternatives - tons, including the free iMovie for Mac, Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Final Cut Pro. It's a matter of preference really. I know people who are comfortable with Flash prefer After Effects. If you're just starting though I highly recommend Sony Vegas - any version you can get your hands on will take only 20 minutes to learn.

 

 

Step 2.1 Compress your video using Youtube.

 

If you need something compressed really well for the web, the best "converter" for that is Youtube. Simply upload a video there as Unlisted, and then download it using http://en.savefrom.net/1-how-to-download-youtube-video/ -- pull down the 720p version and slice that into GIFs (or short videos first).

  • Pros - super easy, just drag any large file in there, even if your FRAPS source and it'll get converted & compressed

  • Cons - if you want a super high color trailer out of that compressed footage, odds are your colors will be a bit off

  • Alternatives - setting up desktop clients to compress video which always goes wrong for me

 

 

Step 3. Now make your phenomenal GIF and share it w/ the world!

 

 

Once you've recorded the game footage and sliced up into short videos, now it's time to GIF-ify them.

 

Thing about GIFs is they work much better than video in social networks. If you've made a trailer, it's always a good idea to slice it up into 3-5 second gifs too. You'll get tons more interaction from those gifs than from the video.

 

Once you have your video, just use http://ezgif.com to create a GIF and optimize it to be under 4mb.

 

 

Sharing and optimizing your GIF
 

What's unfortunate is that now both Facebook and Twitter don't like Youtube sharing -- they prefer their own video sharing tools. It used to be that you could just share the Youtube link everywhere and aggregate views in a single place. Now though my recommendation is to share your trailer on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter -- but then share GIFs from within that trailer with links to your main Youtube trailer.

  • Use <3mb GIFs for e-mail embeds. Always embed the visual instead of attaching it.

  • Better to cut colors than frames (a high FPS GIF with less colors looks better than a well colored slideshow)

  • Try to crop your GIF to be 4:3 aspect ratio, that way it looks better in mobile feeds

Twitter:

  • Your GIF will loop continuously so make the loop itself nice looking

  • People who see it won't be able to download the source file, think about a press kit where the source is available so people can share it. As easy as embedding on your blog page and linking there.

Facebook

  1. Dropping your GIF into the share window won't work, it doesn't usually play

  2. Use http://giphy.com to upload it there, and use the native Facebook Share button there to share it on your page or any other feed -- it'll play automatically in people's feeds

 

Here's an example of a GIF made out of a trailer segment, and used for our Mr. Shifty promotion. It just so happens that the trailer segment loops very nicely, and feels organic. It plays automatically when seen in people's feeds on desktop and mobile.

 

 

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