Sometimes it’s more convenient to record the screen and share it in the form of animated GIF files rather than as videos. I do this when I want to show an action or the result of an action which cannot be properly conveyed through static pictures. On the other hand, videos are a hassle because they need to be uploaded to YouTube or a similar platform and require Flash to playback in the browser. Besides, GIF is more practical for screen recording that contains large areas that doesn’t change between frames. Additionally, GIF is better optimized for images that contain flat blocks of colors such as text, logos and illustrations (which is usually the case when recording a screen).
GifCam is a screen recording software and an animated GIF maker rolled into one. Simply move and size the recording frame over the area you want to capture and press the record button to start recording. But GifCam does more than simply take screenshots and string the frames together. GifCam employs a number of tricks to significantly reduce the size of animation. For instance, when it finds the previous frame is same as the new recorded one it automatically adds delays instead of adding a new frame and increasing gif size. It also saves precious bytes by replacing redundant pixels with a green screen and only drawing the new pixels, and by replacing colors with nearest matching one to reduce the size of the color palette and thus the size of the file.
You can also edit the animation by removing unwanted frames, add text overlays and adjust frame delays. Finally, you can save the animation in full 256 colors, in grayscale or in any of the 5 color reduction formats.
Another interesting feature is the ability make cinemagraphs.
Cinemagraphs are looping video of a short animation where the motion occurs in an isolated part of the video leaving the rest static like a photograph, like the one shown above. The term “cinemagraph" was coined by photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who used the technique to animate their fashion and news photographs beginning in early 2011, and since then became widely popular. Microsoft even developed a tool that lets users create cinemagraphs easily.
In GifCam, you can paint “green screen” over the parts you want to freeze motion while keeping only the parts where you want to show motion. It’s not very user friendly though – you can’t adjust brush size and there is no undo if you made a mistake.
Other features include the ability to add reverse frames to the original GIF to create seamless loops, smooth resize with anti-aliasing, full screen recording, capture cursor during recording, animation previews and export video to AVI.
GifCam weights less than 1 MB in size, is portable and freeware. It’s a great little tool for demonstrations and basic tutorials. Here are some creative uses of GifCam.
An animated painting using MS Paint.
An animated message in notepad.
A retro gif (monochrome color redaction) from YouTube video