If faster Internet speeds have brought us any major changes, it’s been an increase in the number of images shared online; memes, photography and .gifs have managed to shape the online communications landscape enormously. Despite the ubiquity of the .gif, there are not many options for creating them – many are created using Adobe Photoshop, which is understandably not freeware.
This is where free software like Instagiffer comes into play. Built entirely to make .gif files, the software might not offer the extreme fine-tuning of Photoshop but should be more than adequate for most uses. Additionally, Imgur recently upped file support to 50MB, so carefully playing with settings could be a thing of the past.
Instagiffer’s interface is all business; everything serves a purpose and is on display right from the onset, from the YouTube URL field to the viewing window. Where it can, Instagiffer gives you more than a few options to accomplish the same task, and nowhere is this more apparent than the “Time” section, which can be navigated via hours, minutes and seconds or the slider, and then by individual frames. It’s powerful even on a basic level, though if you need even more precise cutting, frames can be removed from the .gif in progress as well.
While the interface is powerful and functional enough for virtually anyone, it’s not going to win any awards for beauty. In truth, it looks dated. The same choice of grey with numerous drop-down menus has been a Windows staple since at least Windows 2000. The software is easy to use, but the UI might prove disappointing with the beauty of modern versions of Windows. Form does, however, follow function, so this should not cause too much concern for all but the most aesthetically critical.
Instagiffer is flexible enough to allow high-quality .gif files; those familiar with using Photoshop will likely favour Adobe’s wider array of features, but Instagiffer is functional enough to do everything it needs to. Sliders control just about every element of the creation process, meaning it’s easy to try and compromise with every element. Unfortunately, it does lack a file size estimator at present: given the file size restrictions on many sites, and the fact Instagiffer warns you about them, it would be great to see an estimated file size for the .gif with current settings. It’s possible to get this by simply creating the .gif, but it would remove a step easily.
As well as streamlining the software, an estimation would make usage of different effects better. There are checkboxes to enable various colour filters such as sepia. These work reasonably well, but since so few .gif files are heavily modified from their source, they’re not necessarily vital. Captions, however, are, and users have plenty of flexibility with the captioning. The only downside is that the captions do not layer over the .gif in the preview, which would be extremely useful. The still from a test .gif above features a caption, though it appears only after the .gif has been created.
Actually creating the .gif file can vary in time needed, but it has never appeared unusually slow during our tests. It will, most likely, slow down considerably on legacy hardware though we would expect to see vast improvement on newer computers as well.
Even when creating a .gif file via screen recording, we found ourselves impressed with Instagiffer’s featureset. The video we recorded was treated in the same manner as any video we fed into the software from YouTube, which is ideal in our eyes: if it was to be handled differently, things would be much more disappointing.
Instagiffer works perfectly for everything you would expect it to be able to do; whether recording your own screen to create a brief .gif file or cutting iconic scenes from films as we did with Bullitt’s theatrical release trailer in our tests, it really is a dependable piece of software. The fact that Instagiffer works so well and remains freeware is highly impressive, and thus we can strongly encourage giving it a download and experimenting. Veteran .gif producers may find it limiting, but for many people it should prove freeing to be able to actually make their own .gif files quickly and easily.
Our one and only complaint with the software lies in its handling of .gif length. Given the exponential increase in file size with length, it pays to make a .gif as short as humanly possible, although Instagiffer’s handling of timing is not perfect. We would much prefer to be able to select the end time in the same way as the start time, though it is a minor issue and one many people should not have trouble dealing with.
Due to the large file size in the .gif we created – we sought to create something high quality to best showcase Instagiffer’s potential. You can view it on Imgur.