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I'm converting a video to GIF file with ffmpeg:

ffmpeg -i input.flv -ss 00:00:00.000 -pix_fmt rgb24 -r 10 -s 320x240 -t 00:00:10.000 output.gif

It works great, but output gif file has a very low quality.

Any ideas how can I improve quality of converted gif?

13 Answers 13

552

ffmpeg example

GIF output from ffmpeg
183k

ffmpeg can output high quality GIF. Before you start it is always recommended to use a recent version: download or compile.

ffmpeg -ss 30 -t 3 -i input.mp4 -vf "fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos,split[s0][s1];[s0]palettegen[p];[s1][p]paletteuse" -loop 0 output.gif
  • This example will skip the first 30 seconds (-ss 30) of the input and create a 3 second output (-t 3).
  • fps filter sets the frame rate. A rate of 10 frames per second is used in the example.
  • scale filter will resize the output to 320 pixels wide and automatically determine the height while preserving the aspect ratio. The lanczos scaling algorithm is used in this example.
  • palettegen and paletteuse filters will generate and use a custom palette generated from your input. These filters have many options, so refer to the links for a list of all available options and values. Also see the Advanced options section below.
  • split filter will allow everything to be done in one command and avoids having to create a temporary PNG file of the palette.
  • Control looping with -loop output option but the values are confusing. A value of 0 is infinite looping, -1 is no looping, and 1 will loop once meaning it will play twice. So a value of 10 will cause the GIF to play 11 times.

Advanced options

The palettegen and paletteuse filters have many additional options. The most important are:

  • stats_mode (palettegen). You can force the filters to focus the palette on the general picture (full which is the default), only the moving parts (diff), or each individual frame (single). For example, to generate a palette for each individual frame use palettegen=stats_mode=single & paletteuse=new=1.

  • dither (paletteuse). Choose the dithering algorithm. There are three main types: deterministic (bayer), error diffusion (all the others including the default sierra2_4a), and none. Your GIF may look better using a particular dithering algorithm, or no dithering at all. If you want to try bayer be sure to test the bayer_scale option too.

See High quality GIF with FFmpeg for explanations, example images, and more detailed info for advanced usage.

Also see the palettegen and paletteuse documentation for all available options and values.


ImageMagick convert example

GIF output from ffmpeg
227k

Another command-line method is to pipe from ffmpeg to convert (or magick) from ImageMagick.

 ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -vf "fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos" -c:v pam -f image2pipe - | convert -delay 10 - -loop 0 -layers optimize output.gif

ffmpeg options:

  • -vf "fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos" a filtergraph using the fps and scale filters. fps sets frame rate to 10, and scale sets the size to 320 pixels wide and height is automatically determined and uses a value that preserves the aspect ratio. The lanczos scaling algorithm is used in this example.

  • -c:v pam Chooses the pam image encoder. The example outputs the PAM (Portable AnyMap) image format which is a simple, lossless RGB format that supports transparency (alpha) and is supported by convert. It is faster to encode than PNG.

  • -f image2pipe chooses the image2pipe muxer because when outputting to a pipe ffmpeg needs to be told which muxer to use.

convert options:

  • -delay See Setting frame rate section below.

  • -loop 0 makes infinite loop.

  • -layers optimize Will enable the general purpose GIF optimizer. See ImageMagick Animation Optimization for more details. It is not guaranteed that it will produce a smaller output, so it is worth trying without -layers optimize and comparing results.

Setting frame rate

Set frame rate with a combination of the fps filter in ffmpeg and -delay in convert. This can get complicated because convert just gets a raw stream of images so no fps is preserved. Secondly, the -delay value in convert is in ticks (there are 100 ticks per second), not in frames per second. For example, with fps=12.5 = 100/12.5 = 8 = -delay 8.

convert rounds the -delay value to a whole number, so 8.4 results in 8 and 8.5 results in 9. This effectively means that only some frame rates are supported when setting a uniform delay over all frames (a specific delay can be set per frame but that is beyond this answer).

-delay appears to be ignored if used as an output option, so it has to be used before - as shown in the example.

Lastly, browsers and image viewers may implement a minimum delay, so your -delay may get ignored anyway.

Video courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center.

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  • 4
    Added some example results (just still frames though). Here, the first file is 4.1 MB, the second around 8 MB. – slhck Feb 22 '13 at 21:44
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    @LordNeckbeard, you are awesome! much thanks for -vf scale=320:-1,format=rgb8,format=rgb24 – Kamil Hismatullin Feb 22 '13 at 21:53
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    By the way, for the convert command for converting from the PNG frames I ended up using convert -delay 5 -loop 0 -dither None -colors 80 "frames/ffout*.png" -fuzz "40%" -layers OptimizeFrame "output.gif", which reduces the overall file size quite a bit – Wilf Jul 24 '14 at 13:58
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    Okay, I've got it, i used scale=0:-1, so when you set the scale to 0, it will take the scale from the video. – Mousa Alfhaily Sep 16 '17 at 12:20
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    This Q&A must be permanently encoded in a tome (or maybe just "pinned" for now) because in a hundred years from now all communication will be done via memes. I think the activity on this post alone speaks to that. – Jonathan Neufeld Oct 7 '18 at 8:15
90

If you would prefer to avoid intermediate image files, the commands provided by LordNeckBeard can be piped between ffmpeg and ImageMagick's convert so that no intermediate files are required:

ffmpeg -i input.flv -vf scale=320:-1 -r 10 -f image2pipe -vcodec ppm - | convert -delay 5 -loop 0 - output.gif

The -f image2pipe tells ffmpeg to split the video into images and make it suitable to be piped out, and -vcodec ppm specifies the output format to be ppm (for some reason if the format is png, either convert does not read all the images from the pipe, or ffmpeg does not output them all). The - for both commands specifies that a pipe will be used for output and input respectively.

To optimize the result without saving a file, you can pipe the output from convert to a second convert command:

ffmpeg -i input.flv -vf scale=320:-1 -r 10 -f image2pipe -vcodec ppm - | convert -delay 5 -loop 0 - gif:- | convert -layers Optimize - output.gif

The gif:- tells convert to pipe its output as gif formatted data and -layers Optimize tells the second convert to perform optimize-frame and optimize-transparancy methods (see the ImageMagick Introduction to Animation Optimization). Note that the output from the -layers Optimize may not always provide a smaller file size, so you may want to try converting to a gif without optimization first to be sure.

Remember that during this whole process everything is in memory so you may need sufficient memory if the images are quite large.

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  • 1
    This set of commands also works with avconv – raphael Dec 9 '15 at 2:00
  • You should merge the last two convert commands: convert -delay 5 -loop 0 -layers Optimize - output.gif – Clément Jul 5 '16 at 5:50
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    The gif appears to be running at 2x the speed of the source video? – Titan Oct 10 '16 at 13:28
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    @Titan believe it's the -r 10 in the first command and the -delay 5 in the second. I changed the delay to 10 also and it seems to play normally now. – Steven Huang Jan 8 '17 at 4:28
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    You can also avoid intermediate image files by using the split filter in ffmpeg. No need to pipe anything at all: ffmpeg -ss 30 -t 3 -i "input.flv fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos,split[x][z];[z]palettegen[y];[x][y]paletteuse" output.gif – Ajedi32 Jan 8 '17 at 23:26
38

As of ffmpeg 2.6, we can do even better:

palette="/tmp/palette.png"
filters="fps=15,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos"

ffmpeg -i input.flv -vf "$filters,palettegen" -y $palette
ffmpeg -i input.flv -i $palette -lavfi "$filters [x]; [x][1:v] paletteuse" -y output.gif

HT

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22

I made my own version of the script, which parameterizes the output resolution and frame rate as well.

Running ./gifenc.sh input.mov output.gif 720 10 will output 720p wide 10fps GIF from the movie you gave it. You might need to do chmod +x gifenc.sh for the file.

#!/bin/sh

palette="/tmp/palette.png"

filters="fps=$4,scale=$3:-1:flags=lanczos"

ffmpeg -v warning -i "$1" -vf "$filters,palettegen" -y "$palette"
ffmpeg -v warning -i "$1" -i $palette -lavfi "$filters [x]; [x][1:v] paletteuse" -y "$2"

You can read the details on my Github

Assumptions: ffmpeg is installed, and the script is in the same folder as the other files.

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    Thank you so much for your script. I just tested it and it works great! – orschiro Feb 5 '16 at 9:32
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    This script is exactly what I wanted - a super easy way to convert OBS screen captures to gifs for bug reporting – jameh May 8 at 21:30
20

The answer from @Stephane is very good. But it will get a warning like Buffer queue overflow, dropping. for some video, and the generated gif has some frame dropped.

Here is a better version with fifo filter to avoid Buffer queue overflow when using paletteuse filter. By using split filter to avoid the creation of intermediate palette PNG file.

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -filter_complex 'fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos,split [o1] [o2];[o1] palettegen [p]; [o2] fifo [o3];[o3] [p] paletteuse' out.gif
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  • If I understand that correctly, you are splitting the input into o1 and o2, and copying o2 to o3. So why do you need o3? Why not just use o2 directly? – Chloe Sep 28 '18 at 23:26
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    @Chloe Did you see the fifo filter operation between o2 and o3? To avoid the Buffer queue overflow warning. – alijandro Oct 23 '18 at 1:45
  • +1 This works really well for me (and resolved the issue referenced). – Iain Collins Dec 17 '18 at 13:56
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    I absolutely love this solution. Kudos! – Leonid Usov Jul 27 '19 at 10:18
12

The ffmpeg with palette method can be run in a single command, without intermediary .png file.

ffmpeg -y -ss 30 -t 3 -i input.flv -filter_complex \
"fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos[x];[x]split[x1][x2]; \
[x1]palettegen[p];[x2][p]paletteuse" output.gif

This can be done thanks to the split filter.

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11

made a script, tested and works.

usage:

./avi2gif.sh ./vokoscreen-2015-05-28_12-41-56.avi

HAVE PHUN :)

vim avi2gif.sh

#!/bin/sh

INPUT=$1

# default settings, modify if you want.

START_AT_SECOND=0; # in seconds, if you want to skip the first 30 seconds put 30 here

LENGTH_OF_GIF_VIDEO=9999999; # in seconds, how long the gif animation should be

echo "Generate a palette:"
ffmpeg -y -ss $START_AT_SECOND -t $LENGTH_OF_GIF_VIDEO -i $INPUT -vf fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos,palettegen palette.png

echo "Output the GIF using the palette:"
ffmpeg -ss $START_AT_SECOND -t $LENGTH_OF_GIF_VIDEO -i $INPUT -i palette.png -filter_complex "fps=10,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos[x];[x][1:v]paletteuse" $INPUT.gif

btw: vokoscreen is an EXCELLENT ScreenCapturing tool for Linux :)

THANKS A LOT Michael Kohaupt :) Rock steady.

some file size stats:

5.3M = vokoscreen-2015-04-28_15-43-17.avi -> vokoscreen-2015-05-28_12-41-56.avi.gif = 1013K

see the results here.

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11

The selected answer assumes you wish to scale the source video and change its fps in the gif produced. If you do not need to do this, the following works:

src="input.flv"
dest="output.gif"
palette="/tmp/palette.png"

ffmpeg -i $src -vf palettegen -y $palette
ffmpeg -i $src -i $palette -lavfi paletteuse -y $dest

This came in handy when I wanted a gif that faithfully recreated the source video I was using.

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11

Linux/Unix/macOS

Following @LordNeckbeard approach with ffmpeg command, please find the following useful Bash function which can be added into your ~/.bash_profile file:

# Convert video to gif file.
# Usage: video2gif video_file (scale) (fps)
video2gif() {
  ffmpeg -y -i "${1}" -vf fps=${3:-10},scale=${2:-320}:-1:flags=lanczos,palettegen "${1}.png"
  ffmpeg -i "${1}" -i "${1}.png" -filter_complex "fps=${3:-10},scale=${2:-320}:-1:flags=lanczos[x];[x][1:v]paletteuse" "${1}".gif
  rm "${1}.png"
}

Once the function is loaded (manually or from . ~/.bash_profile), you should have new video2gif command.

Example usage:

video2gif input.flv

or:

video2gif input.flv 320 10

Scale to 320 width with 10 frames per second.

You can also specify a different video format (such as mp4).


macOS

You can try GIF Brewery app which can create GIFs from video files.


Alternatively there are several websites which are doing conversion online free of charge.

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  • your script raises an error for me about no png file and I get no gif output, but the .mp4 input file remains unchanged – lacostenycoder Mar 8 '19 at 15:49
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    Thanks. Params of 1500 and 40 for me personally generate perfect quality gifs. – Siddhartha Mar 19 at 2:51
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For windows users:
create video2gif.bat file in windows directory with these content:

@echo off
set arg1=%1
set arg2=%arg1:~0,-4%
ffmpeg -y -i %arg1% -vf fps=10,scale=-1:-1:flags=lanczos,palettegen %TEMP%\palette.png
ffmpeg -i %arg1% -i %TEMP%\palette.png -filter_complex "fps=10,scale=-1:-1:flags=lanczos[x];[x][1:v]paletteuse" %arg2%.gif
del /f %TEMP%\palette.png

And then anywhere you can use it be like this example:

video2gif myvideo.mp4

Then you have myvideo.gif in current directory.
If myvideo.gif there is existed, question from you for overwrite it.

EDIT:

I suggest use this batch script: https://github.com/NabiKAZ/video2gif

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    I see that you have done two things here: (1) written the commands as a Windows (.BAT) command script, and  (2) provided a different combination of filters (none of the other answers uses both fps=10 and scale=-1:-1).  Sun’s answer already gave us a batch file, and that one (like the shell scripts in pje’s answer and thevangelist’s answer) has the advantage that it assigns the list of filters to a variable (once),  … (Cont’d) – Scott Apr 21 '17 at 19:09
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    (Cont’d) …  so it doesn’t need to spell out the list twice (as your batch file does).   (I presume that this creates a risk that, if the user edits the script to change one of the lists but not the other, the inconsistency will cause a problem.)   Can you at least explain your choice of filters (fps=10,scale=-1:-1)?   (See notedible’s answer for an example of an explanation of parts of a command.) – Scott Apr 21 '17 at 19:09
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    @Scott You said correct, so I write a new useful script in here: github.com/NabiKAZ/video2gif – Nabi K.A.Z. Apr 23 '17 at 6:46
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Below is the batch file for Windows users:

gifenc.bat:

set start_time=0
set duration=60
set palette="c:\temp\palette.png"
set filters="fps=15,scale=-1:-1:flags=lanczos"
ffmpeg -v warning -ss %start_time% -t %duration% -i %1 -vf "%filters%,palettegen" -y %palette%
ffmpeg -v warning -ss %start_time% -t %duration% -i %1 -i %palette% -lavfi "%filters% [x]; [x][1:v] paletteuse" -y %2

Source: High quality GIF with FFmpeg: Extracting just a sample

If you just want to use one input variable and have the output name have just the GIF (pronounced JIF) extension, then use this instead:

set start_time=0
set duration=60
set palette="c:\temp\palette.png"
set filters="fps=15,scale=-1:-1:flags=lanczos"
ffmpeg -v warning -ss %start_time% -t %duration% -i %1 -vf "%filters%,palettegen" -y %palette%
set var1=%1
set var2=%var1:~0,-4%
ffmpeg -v warning -ss %start_time% -t %duration% -i %1 -i %palette% -lavfi "%filters% [x]; [x][1:v] paletteuse" -y %var2%.gif
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3

How to add a windows 7/10 "right-click" context menu entry to convert your video file to gif

Some of the other answers mentioned the video2gif script, which I used. But, you could use any script.

To create the context-menu option, you need to edit your registry. Open a powershell command prompt, running w/ admin privs. Execute these commands:

$key = "Registry::HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\`*\shell\Run Video2Gif"
New-Item -Path $key"\Command" -Value "C:\dev\ffmpeg\ffmpeg-3.4.2-win64-static\bin\video2gif.bat `"%1`"" -Force

Now when you right click a file you'll have a "Run Video2Gif" option!

btw I installed ffmpeg to C:\dev\ffmpeg\ffmpeg-3.4.2-win64-static\ and put the video2gif.bat script in the bin dir right next to ffmpeg.exe. I also added C:\dev\ffmpeg\ffmpeg-3.4.2-win64-static\bin to my windows PATH, but I don't think you need to.

If you want the option of being able to supply some extra command line flags / args to the script, then make a new file named video2gif-prompt.bat, and have the registry referce it instead of video2gif.bat:

@echo off
set /p inp=Enter extrta args, if desired:
C:\dev\ffmpeg\ffmpeg-3.4.2-win64-static\bin\video2gif.bat %* %inp%

You can still just hit enter to quickly get the defaults.

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1

ffmpeg commands:

  1. Run this command so that ffmpeg can figure out a good palette:

    ffmpeg -y -i foo.mp4 -vf fps=30,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos,palettegen palette.png
    
  2. Run this command to convert the mp4 file into gif:

    ffmpeg -y -i foo.mp4 -i palette.png -filter_complex "fps=30,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos[x];[x][1:v]paletteuse" foo.gif
    

You might want to tweak the fps and scale. Smaller for either will result in better file size.

Making a simple alias function

You can also create an alias function like this. I added it to my .bashrc or .bash_profile:

function makegif {
  ffmpeg -y -i $1 -vf fps=30,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos,palettegen palette.png
  ffmpeg -y -i $1 -i palette.png -filter_complex "fps=30,scale=320:-1:flags=lanczos[x];[x][1:v]paletteuse" $1.gif
}

And then just makegif foo

Note: You'll need ffmpeg of course. Get it here https://www.ffmpeg.org/download.html or brew install ffmpeg

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