YouTube has just released a new GIF-making tool in testing on PBS’s Idea Channel. The tool is available under the share menu and allows users to pick a five-second clip from the video, add two lines of text, and export the file to their computer. The frame rate of the output isn’t quite buttery smooth, and the inability to pick a longer section of video can be a little annoying, but the tool seems very usable in its first version. Google hasn’t said when this feature will roll out to the rest of YouTube.
Making short GIFs of YouTube videos is a pretty well-established practice now — so much so that there’s dozens of websites dedicated to this finest of art forms. But YouTube might be about to make them all obsolete, thanks to a new built-in GIF maker. At the moment, it looks like the feature is experimental — the only channel we can find with it enabled is the PBS Idea Channel. In practice, it’s pretty slick: on a video with GIF capability, you click Share, then GIF, and can then customize your clip. Maximum length is six seconds, with options to add top and bottom text if needed. Actual GIF creation takes seconds. It’s unclear what YouTube’s plans for the future of this feature are, at this stage. But assuming that a site-wide rollout is imminent, you should probably prepare your browser for the impeding onslaught of moving images. What this means for the future of the cat-GIF genre is unclear.