YouTube Now Has a GIF-Maker—But It’s Only for Special Users

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It’s only available on the PBS Idea
Channel, and you’re limited to five-
second animated nuggets, but
YouTube is flirting heavily with the
GIF. Hidden in the “Share” tools for
that PBS channel, there’s a “GIF”
tab that lets you set in- and out-
points for a video. You can also
type upper- and lower-third text
that appears as an overlay (in
Impact font, of course).
The end result is an animated GIF
hosted on YouTube’s servers,
available as both a standalone
YouTube link or as an iframe
embed. Like all GIFs, they don’t
appear as in-line animations on
Twitter, but here’s what they look
like as an embed. Clicking the GIF
will bring you to the full video on
YouTube.

YouTube wouldn’t comment on
plans for a wider permanent rollout
—or even additional testing
channels—but the feature was
teased in a “YouTube Creator
Preview” video posted in late
November. In it, at the 1:13 mark,
YouTube software engineer Michael
Chang talks about the experimental
GIF-creator rollout. (Ironically, that
video isn’t part of the GIF-creator
test run, so here’s the full clip.)
The tool is one of many in
YouTube’s offerings for
“Creators”—higher-profile
personalities on the video service
that have a minimum number of
subscribers. While the create-a-GIF
tool is much more likely to find its
way into the service’s sharing
options for everybody, there are
full production facilities in L.A. and
New York that can be used by
YouTubers with more than 10,000
subscribers and monetization
features enabled on their account.

YouTube also has an online
“Creator Hub” with online tutorials,
analytics tools, and audio clips.
YouTube would not provide specific
information about subscriber counts
or other limitations for joining the
GIF beta program, but there’s a
sign-up form available here.

Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

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