Review: Create animated GIFs with GifCam | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

Review: Create animated GIFs with GifCam

Turn screen action into animated GIFs with this nifty portable freeware.

GifCam combines a screen capture tool with an animated GIF maker to make it super-easy to create animated GIFs with 1001 uses. You just open this portable freeware, place its transparent window over the screen area you wish to capture, and press a button. GifCam automatically records frames, inserts spaces, and saves the clip as a GIF that you can open and play in any program that handles animated GIFs (like your browser). But GifCam does more than simply take screenshots and string the frames together: It also goes to great lengths to pack the most animation into the smallest files. For instance, it saves file space by inserting a delay instead of recording a new frame when the next frame is the same as the one before it. When frames change, GifCam uses a combination of transparent and new pixels instead of drawing all new pixels, further reducing file size. GifCam's editing features let you remove frames, too, and five color reduction schemes not only let you customize your GIFs with interesting effects but also further reduce file sizes by discarding color data.

GifCam is portable, so you only need to extract its program file to run it. GifCam's user interface is small and basic but well configured, with a transparent main window and four buttons: Record, Frame, Edit, and Save. GifCam's basic principle could hardly be easier: Drag the transparent area over the part of your screen you want to record, and then record it. Testing GifCam was just as easy: We played a video, dragged GifCam over part of the player's screen, and pressed "Record." We opened our saved GIF inside Internet Explorer, and it played back the exact view we'd recorded. Clicking "Edit" opened a frame-by-frame view of our GIF that offered dramatic visual evidence of GifCam's pixel-saving technology: By the end of the file, the frames were little more than abstract patterns on a green screen. Right-clicking any frame let us delete or edit it, including adding text.

GifCam is a clever and effective, little tool for creating animated GIFs with the greatest of ease.

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