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All you need is a link and a dream.
The Internet’s love of GIFs is second to none. There are blogs, search engines, an apps dedicated to sharing the little, looping moments. But most of us, myself included, don’t create them ourselves; we rely on the great GIF-makers among us to do the dirty work.
Imgur wants to fix that. On Thursday, the company launched Video to GIF, a super simple GIF creation tool that can take almost any video and turn it into an edited animated image file. To use the feature, simply upload your link, pick the time you want to cut, add text if necessary, and save.
The result? A GIF that you can download or share with friends.
“With Video to GIF, we’re democratizing GIF creation for everyone,” Sam Gerstenzang, Imgur’s head of product, said in an email interview with the Daily Dot. “We’re empowering a whole new generation of creators with a tool that’s simple enough for novices and robust enough for seasoned editors.”
A GIF-making tool is a natural feature for Imgur. It’s one of the most popular image hosting sites on the Web, where viral content finds a home and reaction GIFs get their start. The new tool lets you post your GIF directly to Imgur so you can be part of the community, or share to other social networks right from the sidebar.
You can’t yet use the image editing tool to crop, rotate, or enhance your GIF, but those features will be available soon.
I tested Imgur’s new tool against GifGrabber, the Mac application that lets people create GIFs by placing a translucent box over a video and adjusting the size to create shareable images.
Though GifGrabber makes it possible to select and crop parts of the video while you’re recording it, Imgur’s tool produces clearer images automatically, without needing to change the video settings to HD first. And, perhaps even more importantly, anyone can use it. There is no application required.
To find out just how good Imgur’s new tool is, I used music megastar Taylor Swift, proud owner of the “This Sick Beat” trademark and my personal hero, as a test subject.
Making your own GIF is simple—visit imgur.com/vidgif and paste the link to the video you want to pull an image from.
After Imgur uploads the video, you simply slide the navigation bar to the time you want to turn into a GIF, and add text if you feel like it.
When you’re ready to share, just click “save,” and you’ll be given a variety of links to make sharing it easy.
YouTube is also testing a GIF-making feature, though it’s only available on limited accounts and, obviously, only works for YouTube videos. With Imgur, you can use almost any video service, including Vine, to upload and create your own GIFs.
Lead image by John Pemble/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Selena Larson is a technology reporter based in San Francisco who writes about the intersection of technology and culture. Her work explores new technologies and the way they impact industries, human behavior, and security and privacy. Since leaving the Daily Dot, she's reported for CNN Money and done technical writing for cybersecurity firm Dragos.