Creating GIFs Using ffmpeg

ffmpeg is a fantastic tool for converting videos between various formats. I recently needed to create a GIF from a screen recording, which you can do with ffmpeg, but the command isn’t the easiest to remember.


ffmpeg -i "$1" \
	-vf "fps=10,scale=1080:-1:flags=lanczos,split[s0][s1];[s0]palettegen[p];[s1][p]paletteuse" \
	-loop 0 "${2:-${i%.*}.gif}"

If you’re curious what this command does, here’s an explanation of each part, courtesy of ChatGPT.

  • -i "$1": Input file is the first command line argument.
  • -vf: Applies video filters.
    • fps=10: Sets the frames per second to 10.
    • scale=1080:-1: Scales the video to a width of 1080 pixels; height is set automatically to keep aspect ratio.
    • flags=lanczos: Uses the Lanczos filter for scaling, known for high quality.
    • split[s0][s1]: Splits the video stream into two streams, s0 and s1.
    • [s0]palettegen[p]: Generates an optimized palette (p) for the GIF from stream s0.
    • [s1][p]paletteuse: Applies the generated palette to stream s1.
  • -loop 0: Makes the GIF loop indefinitely.
  • "${2:-${i%.*}.gif}": Output file is either the second command line argument, or the input file renamed to .gif.

We can now call our gif command like this to convert our video to a GIF!

gif input.mp4 output.gif