Making GIFs from Blender animations, with Photoshop in Windows 10
Just today I was setting up Photoshop after a clean install of Windows 10 a couple weeks back, and realized that I completely forgot how to create a GIF in Photoshop. On top of that, I also forgot what format I needed to use in Blender, and a few other things. So, I thought, surely I’m not the only one who has had this issue, so I’m going to go through it all. Also, for other Windows 10 users, I will have the instructions to get Quicktime installed, as well as make it work with Photoshop Creative Suite, since we all know when Windows 7 came around, Photoshop can’t see Quicktime, and complains that you “need Quicktime 7.1 or higher”. Anyways, let’s get started!
Ok, so let us get started creating out animation in Blender. There are two great ways to render out an animation for GIF purposes in PS, but they both have their downfalls. First off, we can render using H.264, the Quicktime Format, and QT rle/QT Animation Codec. I have not tried this with a full render, but with an OpenGL render, you are stuck with animations without materials. The other option is to use AVI Raw, and with OpenGL receive a full material color animation, but a larger file size. Since it will get chopped up into layers, and optimized in PS, file size really isn’t an issue; lack of material color on the other hand, is.
On To Photoshop
Now that you have a .mov or .avi to use, it’s time to open Photoshop, and go to File > Import > Video Frames to Layers. Here you can start to optimize the output before it even starts. If the preview shows a white screen, you did something wrong in the Blender output settings. Remember, you need to have videos that Quicktime can actually recognize, and decode, which are slim pickins’. If you have a working video, now it a good time to decide how many layers you want. If you are using a 60 frame-per-second animation, you may want to use the “Limit To Every __ Frames” option, so that you don’t have an enormous GIF that no one sees, because they don’t have the patience to let it load.
You might go as far as to limit it down to every 2 – 5 frames depending on the FPS. With 24fps, I like to use every 2 frames. You still get a fairly fluid animation, and the file size is not the size of an actual video file.
With the video now in layers, it is time to save it as a GIF, as well as knock out some optimization. To do so, we go to File > Save for Web. Once you have done this, you will be presented with your GIF preview, as well as many different options to optimize it, as well as make it a little bit more presentable. You can dither, crop, change looping options, change the color table, image size, and many other things. When you are done, simply click Save, and save your newly created GIF file.
Ok, now for the not so fun part. If you chose to Import Video Frames to Layers, and Photoshop spit out the error, “Could not complete the Video Frames to Layers command because QuickTime version 7.1 or later is required“, then all we need to do is copy a file from the Quicktime directory. The file in specific is the QTCF.dll file. You can find it in C:\Program Files(x86)\Quicktime\QTSystem. Once you have found it, click it (highlight it), press Ctrl + C to copy it, and then go to your Photoshop directory, and press Ctrl + V to paste the file into the directory.
If you are on Windows 8.1, or Windows 10, then you may be having issues installing Quicktime. As of this writing, the latest version is 7.7.8, and it still will not install without a fix. I suggest that you follow the instructions over at TommyNation, telling you exactly how to get Quicktime installed on Windows 10 (works for 8.1, but you should just upgrade if you have that). It is a fairly simple task, and may take a few minutes, but you will in fact get Quicktime working as intended, and then you can copy the QTCF.dll file. Normally I would future-proof this and give all of the instructions, but I have a feeling this issue will go away soon.
So, there we have it! How to make your own GIFs using Blender and Photoshop, as well as how to make Quicktime work in Photoshop! I hope this has helped, and if not, it’s just another article I can look back on when I forget how to make a GIF again. Enjoy!