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tlnagy committed Aug 16, 2016
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title: "Embedding videos in Google Slides as GIFs"
author: Tamas Nagy
layout: post
tags: [science, productivity]

In my field, systems biology, it's pretty common to take time-lapse movies
to get the dynamics of how the system behaves. And we like showing them
off. This makes Google Slides[^1] inability to embed videos (without
uploading them to Youtube) pretty annoying and inconvenient. Slides does,
on the other hand, have good support for embedding GIFs. I came up with
the following pipeline (based on notedible's comment on
First, make sure to install `libav` and `imagemagick`. On Debian-based
systems, you can run

sudo apt-get install libav-tools imagemagick

and on MacOS[^2] the easiest way to install them is via
[homebrew]( Then I use the following command to create the GIF:

cat some_movie.m4v | avconv -i pipe: -r 10 -f image2pipe -vcodec ppm - | convert -delay 5 -loop 0 - gif:- | convert -layers Optimize - output.gif

where `some_movie.m4v` is the video file. This creates an optimized GIF
version called `output.gif`, which you can then upload to Google Slides.
The last niggle is that the GIFs play continuously and sometimes it's
helpful to be able to stop/start the playback. Enter the [Toggle Animated
extension for Firefox (I'm sure there's something comparable for Chrome),
which lets you do just that.

[^1]: I like Google Slides for a variety of reasons, but the main ones are
its simplicity, portability, and collaboration features. Hard to beat for

[^2]: OS X dammit

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