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November 18, 2010

Movie Scenes turned into Animated GIFs

Animated GIF images may remind you of those cluttered and distracting homepages of the Geocities era but take a peek at this impressive tumblr blog and it might forever change the way you think of GIFs.

The site features a brilliant collection of GIF animations created using frames of classic movie scenes that play in an endless loop. Here are some examples:

Animated GIF - le mepris

GIF from Shining

How to Create GIF Animations?

There are free tools available that let you easily convert video clips into animated GIFs that you can later host on sites like Flickr or Tumblr -- not all image hosting sites support animated GIFs but the one mentioned here do.

This is a two-step process – first convert the video into a sequence of image frames and then assemble these frames into a looping GIF animation with some custom delay.

Step 1: Download FFmpeg for Windows from sourceforge.net and extract the ffmpeg.exe file to, say, the c:\ffmpeg\ folder. The .7z files can be unzipped using the 7-zip utility.

Step 2: Now we’ll extract the frames from our video file. The command* is simple.

c:\ffmpeg\ffmpeg.exe -i movie.avi img-%03d.gif


If your video file is in another folder, you need to specify the full path of that file. Also, you may use MP4, MOV or any video format as well instead of AVI.



Step 3: Grab this portable utility called UnFreez and drag-n-drop all the image frames created in the previous step from Windows Explorer into the UnFreez window.



Enable “loop animation” and set the frame delay to say 20 cs (1 cs = 0.01 second).  Click “Make animated GIF” and preview your image is in any browser.



Screencast: Converting videos into GIF movies



[*] If you have a fairly long video file and would only like to convert a portion of it into an image, you need to slightly modify the ffmpeg parameters as shown below:



c:\ffmpeg\ffmpeg.exe -i movie.avi –ss 5 –t 3 img-%03d.gif


The parameter ‘ss’ refers to the start position in the video while ‘t’ is the duration for which you want to extract the frames. So in the above example, image frames for the file movie.avi will be at created from the 5 second mark for the next 3 seconds on the video.



If you would like to stop GIFs from animating in the browser, just hit the Escape key.



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November 17, 2010

Browse the Web with your Email Address

webpages by email

Web2PDF is an extremely useful web based service that lets you browse the web using your email address.

Compose a new email message, type the URL of any web page in the body of that message and send it to submit@web2pdfconvert.com. The service will then fetch the corresponding web page on its own servers and will send it back it you as a PDF attachment – all this takes no more than a few seconds.

I have tried this service will several web pages, including ones that have complex layouts, and the conversion was more or less perfect in all cases (see examples here and here). The converted PDFs not only retain the layout but also the hyperlinks and thus you may fetch other internal pages as well using email itself.

Such a service may come handy in quite a few situations like when you have access to email but general web access is restricted. Or when you are surfing the web on an old mobile phone with a pathetic browser – in that case, the built-in PDF reader may be a better option for reading web articles.