Though there are a lot of uses for animated GIF images one of the more common ones popping up lately are with display ads. They work more effectively in grabbing attention than static display ads do and thus have become the wave for the future. Now if you are a solopreneur on a limited budget and have a desire or a need to bump up the image of your ads but have become above all else “your own creative department”… don’t despair… right here, right now we are going to walk you through the process of creating an animated display ad and we are going to do it on a shoe string. So grab your creative juice and let’s get going!
I am for the purpose of demonstration going to assume the role of a “Classic Automotive Paint and Detailing Service,” and I think I am going to call it “Detailed Classiczz”
1) Our GIF presentations will be schematically broken down into simple frames, not unlike that of a movie or a video (if you have put together a Windows Moviemaker production, you will know exactly what I am talking about.) These frames will be designed in a graphics/ draw program. Here you can apply your text onto your graphic frames. If you do not own a graphic/draw application you can download : Sherif DrawPlus4.0 for free. It is simple, quick to pick up and very effective for these purposes.
2) You will need a GIF conversion application as well and the easiest and most versatile application we have found on the market which also offers a 30 day free trial and a nominal $30 price tag is GIF Movie Gear.
3) Finally, although GIF Movie gear has the capacity to convert your end result into an URL address, I prefer to upload my GIFs into a photo sharing application like Photobucket and you can open a free account with them. it will keep all your ad designs organized with their URL’s easily accessible.
4) You also may want a graphic in your presentation. Be sure your graphics are of a good quality: in focus, with a clearly visible subject and not washed out in color.) Now there are websites that allow you to download copyright free photos of good quality on about any subject matter you can imagine and here are a few you might want to consider if you have a need: Photos8.com and Freerangestock.com
With our tools gathered together we might want to formulate a bit of a plan of attack. In my own creation I need to know the motivation for designing this ad.
-Is it for the purpose of providing information?
-Is it a call to action… for example:”click here”… to get a reader hot linked to my website?
-What are the dimensions of the ad and how will that effect how things are displayed. (For example, long and narrow banner ads are tricky when it comes to graphics incorporated in them and do not foster the ability for much text per frame without looking too crowded.)
The answer to these questions will determine the elements I need in my design. Keeping in mind that it is ever important not to over crowd the ad with information, we are going to keep details to bare bones minimum. In my ad I am going to let a few photos speak for my theoretical business. Alternately I could have decided to use one graphic and the whole animation concept would center around changes in wording, for example: one frame fo my slogan, one for my address, one for my “induce to action” statement and so on. My motivation however is to draw the viewer to my website, where I can provide much more detailed information and hopefully get them into my marketing funnel. In general, when designing GIFs, the plan is to limit the amount of frames between 2 and 20 for a few reasons: we are not making a movie here, our viewer is going to scan the graphic and will lose interest if it is too detailed, or the animation is flipping frames too quickly and we have memory size to keep a cap on as well.
Designing The Frames:
For simplification purposes I have chosen a (3 x 5 inch) dimension for my display ad. Now some publications provide for ad dimensions in pixels and not inches, but if you search: “pixel to inch conversion,” you will get the translation you need for the draw program you are working with. When your GIF is complete and uploaded to Photobucket you can again edit the dimensions there to fit exactly to specification of your publisher if your GIF is a few pixels off and your publisher is having issues.
Now that I have drawn my 3×5 frame in my draw program, I am going to make sure that nothing is going to spill outside these dimensions or there will be a very noticeable and unprofessional shift in the GIF image. I will upload the graphics that I choose to use: logos, clip art, photos, click here” button graphic…etc. and I will crop and scale the photos to fit into the frame one photo at a time. Now I am ready to lay my words with their chosen fonts on top of the graphics, always keeping in mind to make sure that everything is easily visible, especially the font size and the font color that overlays the background image.
For my purpose, I have chosen these elements to best suit my design: Name of Business, slogan, and a “click here” button graphic that will induce the reader to click on the image which is hot linked to my website. This is going to be a very simple GIF… three frames altogether. I place my first photo within the frame I drew and then I place the text on top with the button. Once done, I will isolate and export this frame to my computer’s photo album and assign it a JPEG name. I will then replace my first image with both the second and then the third image, repeating the task of exporting with each graphic. I will end up with stationary text and changing background images as my GIF animation plan.
Converting to GIF:
In opening the program, I will choose “insert frames option” and pick up all three frames I had just completed and the program will drop these frames onto a story board. I will then preview the animation and from there slow down or speed up groups of frames or individual frames depending on comfort of readership. I will want to slow things down especially if I don’t have enough time to read an entire frame. When things are comfortable for me to view and all information easily processed amid the movement I will save my GIF and title it. This will place the GIF onto my computer’s album again where I can upload to Photobucket easily from there, get an assigned URL for the image and store it for safe keeping, thus freeing up my own computer’s memory.
Now that all is said and done, creating GIF images for the purpose of display ads is not any where near as difficult or expensive as one might think. With a bit of trial and error, patience and creative juice you can come up with some fantastic designs. You can always go to the net and look out for the designs already in the marketplace to get some ideas. Now that you know how to lay out a GIF presentation yourself, you will recognize how the professionals approached their designs and you can then incorporate their techniques into your ads as well. Have fun and good luck with your designs!