My GIFs Just Ain’t What They Used to Be

I recently wrote about all the GIFs I’ve made over the last two years, but something I forgot to mention is how much the quality of the GIFs I’ve made lately suck. I had a pretty solid workflow in which I used an old version of Mac the Ripper to grab the VOB files from the DVD I was working with and then I would pull them into MPEG Streamclip to export the stills I was using as images and then finish up in GIMP—you can see a detailed tutorial of the process here.

When I recently upgraded to a new MacBook Pro I was finally pushed to use the latest Mac OS. The casualty of this “progress” was the old school DVD ripping software Mac the Ripper which no longer works with the latest Mac OS. I understand Mac the Ripper was outmoded and the programmers were GNU violating jackasses, but despite all that the rips were high quality. I switched to Handbrake for ripping but that software doesn’t seem to let me rip to the raw files which means I always get a compressed file from the rip. Compression on top of compression reduces the quality of the GIFs accordingly. In fact, I have yet to make a GIF in Handbrake that I’m  happy with. I just experimented with a clip from the begininng of Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession (1954) which you can see below.

A little pixelation in the water is understandable, but what’s going on here seems a bit excessive in both the water flume, the helmets, and the faces. Also, the colors are shot. I really need a better ripping software to test my theory, the only other possibility is GIMP is killing the GIFs, but I’m not sure how that could be.  Anyone have ripping software for the Mac besides Handbrake they like?

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6 Responses to My GIFs Just Ain’t What They Used to Be

  1. Ryan says:

    The VLC wiki has some instructions I bookmarked but haven’t gotten around to trying that look promising … if VLC doesn’t cut it for you, there are a couple of other recommendations under the Related section.

  2. Thomas says:

    You can definitely see in that GIF that the number of overall colors is low, especially in the background water, but that’s probably not something you’ll ever really be able to avoid with an animated GIF with a lot of movement (unless you want it to be MBs in size). Looking at your earlier post with all the GIFs, you had a lot with low amounts of colors (black and whites) and with low amounts of movement, so those will naturally look better and smoother.

    • Reverend says:

      You don;t think it has anything to do with the compression rates in Handbrake? The quality of the rips of entire films is also noticeably worse. I get what your saying, but I also feel my baseline has gone down significantly. I am desperate 🙂

      I tried working with the new version of VLC and capturing from that. The issue I am having is the files don;t open in MPEG Streamclip, they are almost corrupt, they don’t really open in any video player on my computer. It is frustrating.

  3. Tom says:

    Maybe just screen cap the video clips you want? Easier than ripping to me. If you play in VLC believe you could capture w QuickTime. I tend to use screenflow if I’m not straight downloading from YouTube.

    • Reverend says:

      Screen flow? Hmmm, that is interesting. I don’t have that application, but can get access to it—I’ll try it out. The Quicktime idea is intriguing as well—thanks for those. I want to do an experiment to see if my nostalgia from Mac The Ripper versus Handbrake is actually accurate. If I am right, at least I’ll know for sure, it will be like the Pepsi Challenge for animated GIFs. Which one was made with mac The Ripper?

  4. Ryan says:

    Following back up on this, Rev. I played around a little this weekend and discovered you can actually open the VOBs directly from your DVD with MPEG Streamclip — no ripping or converting necessary — as long as you can get your hands on the Quicktime MPEG2 Playback Component. There are a couple of ways to do this:

    1) Pay $20 to download it from Apple. Don’t be scared by their saying “it can’t be installed on OS X Lion or later.” It’s true that you can’t use the installer package they give you, but with a little manual work you can get the component out of the package and put it into the right place yourself.

    2) Do you have, or know anybody who has, the old version of Final Cut Studio (version 7, before they overhauled the UI)? If you can find a computer with FCS7, you can go into the /System/Library/Quicktime folder on that computer, get the file called QuickTimeMPEG2.component, and put it into the same location on your own computer. MPEG Streamclip will automatically load the component the next time you start the application.

    Once you have the component in place, you can open the VOB files directly in MPEG Streamclip. (See this site and this YouTube video for ideas on how to make that happen.) Once it’s open you can proceed to mark in/out points, trim, and export to an image sequence just like you normally would.

    Let me know if you have an opportunity to try this — I’d be interested to see how these results compare to the GIF in this post.

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