YouTube Finally Lets You Make GIFs Without Leaving The Site

Without any fanfare, YouTube has introduced a built-in GIF creation tool for selected videos and channels.

The rollout is limited for the time being. The option appears on videos in the PBS Digital Studios’ Ideas channel, as pointed out in the tweet above, under each video’s “Share” option. The option is not available on several channels that we checked.

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If you have ever created short, looping animations, you will appreciate the simplicity of YouTube’s tool. At the top is a film scrubber, which displays a series of frames from the video above. The frame tool moves along the strip as the video plays above and can be grabbed and dragged to any point in the video. It defaults to a three-second grab, but can be stretched out to six seconds or condensed to 0.3 seconds.


Right below the film scrubber is a preview window that shows you your GIF in real time; to the right sit two windows with the time stamps for the start and end of your GIF clip. Below, you can enter meme text into fields to display at the top and bottom of your GIF. Once you click the large “create GIF” button, YouTube generates your final GIF and presents you with a link to email, an embeddable code, and social share links.

YouTube confirmed that the new GIF tool is rolling out and noted that it actually announced that fact last month in a video (above) detailing a number of upcoming YouTube Creator updates.

Mike Rugnetta, who stars in PBS’s Ideas Channel videos said that YouTube informed them of the change Thursday evening. “The lot of us got an email last night from our partner manager letting us know Idea Channel had been added to the group of channels they’re using the beta test the new GIF feature (including another PBSDS show It’s Okay to Be Smart).”

YouTube encouraged Rugnetta and the PBS team to let fans know so they could start playing with the GIF creation tool. He then posted about it on their subreddit and Tumblr.

It’s been less than a day since the feature launched, but Rugnetta is already a big fan. “It’s great! Having the ability to excerpt YouTube videos as GIFs on the watch page make perfect sense to me. It’s something fans have been doing manually (downloading videos, using Photoshop, etc.) for a while — this makes that process much easier and more populous. I’m excited; I can only hope they’ll make it widely available!”

YouTube wouldn’t comment on how the launch channels were selected. PBS, which is a nonprofit, may have presented fewer copyright concerns, but as GIFs are sound-free and no longer than six seconds, it’s unlikely they would run into trouble from media or music companies.

Various free and ad-supported GIF creation tools already allow GIF creation from YouTube videos, but YouTube’s own tool would make it a much simpler option.

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