Gifs should be optimized

Everyone loves gifs, at least until they are overused... then everyone hates them. I've found them pretty helpful for illustrating small demos on functionality/operations in a blog post without resorting to a full video.

They key is they need to optimized, otherwise they can take up a lot of bandwidth and waste storage space when dealing with websites and blogs. I've evaluated a couple gif tools in the recent months, and figured I share some of those results to make you aware of how much a difference optimization can make on even a small scale.

Name Ext Size Dimensions
2016-10-14_11-44-27_OptimizeForReducedSize.gif gif 10 MB 400 x 311
2016-10-14_11-42-57_OptimizeForHighMotion.gif gif 64 MB 490 x 382
2016-10-14_11-42-22_OptimizeForScreen.gif gif 10 MB 490 x 382
ScreentoGif14.gif gif 2 MB 490 x 380

In my next test, I did ScreenToGif, Snagit, and Gifcam on a 2 min long console stream. ScreenToGif has some stability issues for me on Windows 10, so it crashed as processing the results. I imported what GifCam created into ScreenToGif, and then had it save the file to see if it could optimize the gif any further. The results were neglible difference in the optimization of space.

Name Ext Size Dimensions
ScreenToGif14_TryingToOptimizeGifGam.gif gif 4,632 KB 832 x 514
Snagit_OptimizeForScreen_2min.gif gif 109,916 KB 834 x 516
GifCam_10FPS_2MinGif.gif gif 4,732 KB 832 x 514

After doing my testing, I reached out to TechSmith who have been generous to provide me with a copy of the product for usage and feedback. They got back with me promptly advising that they will look to improve the gif optimization process in future releases, but unfortunately didn't provide any estimated time frame for this.

Considering their improvements in Camtasia and Snagit lately, I'm sure they've had their hands full, but it would have been nice to get some better details, as the current size is so disproportionately high that for any blogger looking for optimization isn't not an ideal tool for gif creation.

That said, if you want to optimize your gif size for faster loading on the web, you can leverage Cloudinary, which I do, that automatically delivers optimized versions to the client, further reducing size.

You can also import a Snagit or Camtasia gif into something like ScreenToGif14 and have it just optimize the gif for you before upload if you prefer to store a smaller copy that is already optimized. For an occasional gif, Snagit is fine. For optimized gifs used in blog posts, I'd suggest leveraging a tool to optimize until Snagit/Camtasia improve their optimization process. My current favorite is GifCam

If you've never looked into how optimization on gif images work, it's pretty interesting. GifCam's website shows a demo, on how unchanging pixels are identified and transparency applied to reduce the size. It would be really interesting to see some of the work the lead engineers over at Giphy have done, as it's got to be a less well recognized market than Youtube for compression techniques, yet it's such a prevalent form of modern humor, unoptimized images would impractical.