andrew burke





iPhone Animated GIFs

Posted on: 2013-08-05

One of the cool features of the iPhone is that you can set it up to automatically take "HDR" pictures. Whenever you take a picture, it will actually take several pictures a fraction of a second apart with different exposure settings, and it will then merge them together. While earlier versions of this technology would sometimes produce strange results, especially with moving subjects, iOS6 on the iPhone5 does a very good job.

One annoying side effect of this HDR feature is that you end up with two versions of every picture you take: the 'original' and the enhanced HDR one. When I import pictures from my phone into iPhoto, the first thing I do is go through the duplicates and delete the ones that don't look as good.

However, while flipping through these near-duplicate shots, I've noticed that since they're taken sequentially, moving subjects are in slightly different positions in each picture, and that flipping back and forth between them turns them into an animation. Then I realized that I could make animated gifs out of them!

Outside of Photoshop, it's surprisingly hard to find software that builds animated gifs from a collection of original images, so I cooked up my own system using ImageMagick and some shell scripting.

Here are some of my favourites:

In last year's Halifax Nocturne festival, I got caught in the middle of a spontaneous street dance party. For full effect, put on "Hey Ya" while looking at these:

Here's a waterfall I saw in Waterton Lakes, Alberta:

Here's some drilling going on at the Nova Centre site:

Here's the tabletop games room at HalCon 2012:

Here's a shot taken while skating last winter:

I had a lot of fun at a family wedding earlier in the summer. We sang along to "Don't Stop Believin'":

And we moshed a bit:

(Yes that's me in the blue jacket. I think this was to Iron Maiden's "Run To The Hills".)

So if you're using an iPhone5, give the HDR mode a try. Not only will you get nicer pictures, you'll also get great source materials for your own animated gifs.

Previous: Two Days In Yosemite
Next: iTunes Festival 2013