The animated GIF is one of the more unlikely successes of the internet age. Originally appearing way back in 1987 (ancient times in internet terms) this steadfastly unglamorous graphics file format has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity, becoming something of a web icon.
That's for two reasons: firstly, because it's compatible with just about any device; and, secondly, because it supports animations.
Yes, we've all seen them: those funny little videos on an endlessly repeating short loop, typified by a static background with just one small animated part. Generally created for comic effect – say, when a speechifying politician gets stuck in an embarrassing sequence of facial expressions, or a small animal makes a sudden and unexpected move, repeated ad infinitum.
Animated GIFs, then, are the sorts of things you check out and think: "That's great – I wish I could make one."
Well, guess what? You can! Very easily and on the go. Because all you need is a Samsung GALAXY S4 or Note 3.
Step 1: Select your subject
Not everything translates into an animated GIF: what you're essentially looking for is a scene in which either lots of things are moving, or just one thing. It doesn't matter if you don't have the perfect scene to start with – if you haven't made one before, it's a good plan to get some practice in, so that you know what to do when the perfect GIF-fodder arrives. But you do need at least one element in your pictures that moves.
In this case, we had an ideal subject at hand: our cute little Boston terrier, Dolly. Unfortunately, Boston terriers are renowned for never standing still or posing as their owners might desire, so the resulting Animated Photos aren't exactly likely to become internet memes. However, you must admit she is cute…
Step 2: Select Animated photo
When you've spotted some likely-looking subject-matter, capturing it as raw material for an Animated Photo is simplicity itself on a GALAXY Note 3 or S4. All you need to do is launch the camera, touch the Mode button, and scroll to the "Animated photo" option. Now, set up your shot – framing is always important with an animated GIF – and when you're ready, hit the Shutter button.
At this point, it's crucial that you hold your GALAXY device steady – the Animated Photo will record for a predetermined time, as if it were a video, and for it to work best, there should be a steady frame of reference around the moving elements.
Step 3: View your animated area(s)
Once your Animated Photo has been recorded, you'll find your GALAXY device instantly enters a mode which allows you to edit it into something more interesting than a mere video.
Indeed, the "Animated photo" mode has an inbuilt intelligence, so that when you look at your Animated Photo, you will notice a lightened area of the screen. This is where it has detected movement.
Step 4: Edit your animated area(s) and set static area(s)
Of course, you probably only want one part of your Animated Photo to move. So you need to pay close attention to that particular area of the frame (obviously, watching the animation play in its entirety, which it does automatically, helps).
Once you've spotted your animated area, simply rub the other lightened parts of the screen with your finger so they become greyed-out. Now just the lightened area will support movement. Since you're dealing with a touchscreen, you can have several animated areas, if you want.
If there's a lot of movement going on in your frame, and you want to freeze one particular area instead, that's easily done.
At the top of the screen are two menu items: Animate and Freeze. Animate is selected by default. But to Freeze an area instead, just hit Freeze, then paint that area of the screen with your finger.
Step 5: Trim your animation
Once you're happy with the various moving and static parts of your animation, it's time to trim it down. Animated GIFs should be short and snappy, and the best ones have a jerky quality, which gives them a wonderful incongruity between the real-life photos and puppet-style animation.
To the left, towards the bottom of the screen, you will see a scissors icon, labelled Trim. Hit this, and a frame-by-frame progression appears across the bottom of the screen.
Trimming is a simple process: at the extreme left and extreme right of the sequence of frames are two grey arrow-shaped objects. Think of these as buffers.
Move the right one towards the left, and it excludes all the frames to its right; the same principle applies to the left one. Move them around until you've got to the core of your Animated Photo: a short, preferably jerky and hilarious-looking sequence.
Step 6: Set your direction and you're good to go!
With the essence of your Animated Photo created, there's one more thing you can do: set it to perpetually play forwards in a loop, backwards in a loop, or backwards then forwards in a loop.
To do this, simply hit the Direction button towards the bottom-right of the screen, and select your preferred option. Hit Save, and you're good to go!