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Copyright 2000, 2009 Alexander Milukov, All rights reserved
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Creation of animated GIFs using AVIedit, or
How Do I Get Smiling

I'm sure you like to chat online, or participate a bulletin board, or just share your photos etc. Often you need to show your emotions to others, or save a lot of words that describe your feelings and so on. Many people are using such a "faces" just for fun. Lets see how they make smiles.

Perhaps the most important step is creation of the separate frames. Start Windows Paint and create a series of 20x16 pictures, draw there something and save to truecolor bitmaps (.bmp). Here are my own samples, I feel you can do it much better :) Don't be confused by .gif extensions here because I need it to store graphics online.

Please start AVIedit and click File|Tools|Image Browser menu item. It looks like the screenshot below (Windows XP was used to take this lesson screenshots).

AVIedit menu's

Normally Image Browser window shows the files in the current folder, their properties (an extended set is used for supported image formats) and many additional controls. Below you see six Windows Bitmap pictures, sm01.bmp to sm06.bmp that will be joined together, to make up the animation.

Image Browser screenshot

Image Browser's context menu By the way, AVIedit's built-in Image Browser lets you manage your image collections and galleries the same way you could perform it using Windows Explorer. In Image Browser you can invoke the same context menu commands that you would use in explorer, but - you see - here are much more sorting and filtering options available.

6 selected pictures Image Browser imports images, if you select more than one and click Ok. The same is possible with File|Import... menu items, but there you can import other file types, too.

AVI Options dialog In this dialog box you can change the animation speed, and have AVIedit produce more than one animation frames from each imported picture. In fact, all these changes can be made later, so you can simply click Ok.

Video Compression dialog This dialog box appears when you import and export animations and videos. Normally you would choose an appropriate video codec (compressor) and change its settings to best fit your needs. However, this time we do not need any compression, because the GIF file will use its own method. Select uncompressed in drop-down list.

List of compressors By the way, Windows offers a very beggar set of outdated codecs. The MPEG4 codec you see here was installed by us. You may wish to read more about Windows XP multimedia related features.

After you have selected uncompressed and clicked Ok, AVIedit works for some short time and finally loads a newly created movie for editing. By default the file name is outputBM.avi and it will look like this one.

AVIedit Zoom menu Of course the pictures are too small for convenient work. Lets make them zoomed in. (Also you can zoom-in and zoom-out with Gray + and Gray - keys on a numeric keypad.

It's much better now...

We are two steps away from ready-to-use smile GIF file.
We need
  • select all the frames
  • export frames to a GIF

There are a few ways to get frames selected. You can either
  • click left mouse button above the filmstrip (where AVIedit shows the # of frames and movie duration as
  • click Edit|Select All menu item see screenshot
  • hit S key to Select a range of frames by their starting and ending numbers see screenshot
  • click left mouse button inside the first frame, then hold down SHIFT key and click inside the last desired frame

Now you see the word selection above the filmstrip, and the frames are outlined with dark blue. You can change the color of selection using Options|Preferences menu item, if need.

AVIedit Export menu AVIedit lets you export a movie into different formats. This time we need Animated GIF. Although it does not support sound and the picture is limited to 256 colors maximum, GIF files can be viewed by virtually any web browser and thousands of third party software. Unlike AVI files, that can be made even smaller in size than GIFs, you will not need any special codec for GIFs playback.

Below is the GIF Options dialog box. For a very first time you can simply enter the same values as it is shown here; for a detailed description please click Help button :)

Finally, you see the resulting web page that AVIedit created for you, with the smile that we just made. You may ask, where is that hot red area around the face ? It's simply. When transparency option (see screenshot above) is on, then AVIedit looks for the color of leftmost top pixel of your animation frame(s) and treats it as transparent one. All image pixels of the same color will be invisible (hollow?). It's the way it works.

Ok folks, that's all. See you smiling

Copyright 2000, 2009 AM Software