By Ashley Poland

Create an animated GIF from a video clip make an animated thumbnail as a video preview. You can convert your MOV file, or sections of it, to a GIF using one of two programs. Which program you should use depends on your budget and how much work you want to do when creating the GIF.

Video Cleaner

If you want to automate the process, the software company River Part combines two programs for creating quick GIF images from video: Video Cleaner and the Animated GIF booster pack. Both are commercial products, but offer free trials for testing before purchase. Once installed on your computer, add the file to Video Cleaner. Click the "Output Format" option and select "Animated GIF." Under "Video Settings" select GIF and specify the resolution and the frame rate. Select a resolution in the same ratio as the current video ratio. For a frame rate, River Past recommends two to four frames per second. Click "Convert" when you're ready.


GIMP is a free image-editing program that can handle basic GIF animation. It does not import videos as frames. To create a GIF from a MOV file using GIMP, you'll first need to capture each frame using another program. VLC offers an advanced controls toolbar under the View menu, which allows you to advance the video by one frame and take a snapshot of the frame. Once you've captured your frames, you can load them into GIMP. Select "Open as Layers" from the File menu and select the snapshots. GIMP will load the layers sequentially, with the first file on the bottom. The bottom layer is the first frame of the animation. To set the frame rate, add the duration of each frame to the layer name. For example, use "Layer 01 (100ms)." GIMP measures frame display time in milliseconds. You can test your animation speed by going to the "Animation" option from the Filters menu and selecting "Playback." Save the file using the GIF file extension and select "Save as Animation."

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is capable of creating image files directly from video files. Open the MOV file in Photoshop and open "Animation" from the Window menu to see the palette. Use the blue sliders on the timeline ruler to set the part of the video you want to convert to GIF. Click the "Menu" icon in the upper right corner of the Animation window and select "Trim Document Duration to Work Area." Select "Flatten Frames Into Layers," then click "Make Frames from Layers." Save your file using the "Save for Web" option to optimize your GIF for online use.


The animated GIF format isn't designed to replace videos. In addition to the lack of audio, GIF files are limited to 256 colors and do not use file space efficiently. When you create an animated GIF, verify that the image isn't too large and that it's not too long. Effective GIF images are visually striking and make use of an animated gesture or situation.