Create Animated GIF – How to Create an Animated GIF from MP4 Video via Command Line

.mp4command linegif

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.

Best Answer

ffmpeg 3.4.4 can do it directly on Ubuntu 18.04

You likely want to use something like:

sudo apt install ffmpeg
wget -O opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4 https://github.com/cirosantilli/media/blob/master/opengl-rotating-triangle.mp4?raw=true
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.

The above conversion also worked after a ulimit -Sv 1000000 (DRAM usage limited to 1GB), so it does "not consume huge amounts of memory" like previous attempts I did with Imagemagick which almost killed my machine. 500MB however failed because ffmpeg failed to load its shared libraries... time to upgrade your RAM ;-)?

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.

Argument breakdown

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.

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.