Create animated GIFs with Sirv

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Sirv is the ideal platform for hosting animated GIFs. It automatically applies lossy optimization and serves GIF as WebP where possible, delivered very quickly from its CDN. Sirv even lets you resize GIFs instantly to any width/height via the image URL.

Sirv gives you two GIF solutions:

  1. Create new animated GIFs, from a spin (series of images).
  2. Host existing animated GIFs.

This guide describes how to create new animated GIFs. If you're already creating spins with Sirv, this guide is for you.

If you're uploading existing GIFs to Sirv, read the guide to hosting animated GIFs on Sirv.

First, create a spin

Simply upload a set of images to your Sirv account and a spin will be generated. Any spin can instantly be displayed as a GIF. Learn how to create spin files.

Here's what spin GIF generation looks like:



Example GIF generated from spin

What's unique is that you have total control over your GIFs, on-the-fly. Just tweak the speed, text, size or other options and you'll get a new GIF, simply by adding options to the URL.

Typically, you'll want to serve spins rather than GIFs (because spins are interactive). But sometimes you need to make animated GIFs for places where JavaScript isn't permitted, for example:

  • Emails
  • Forums
  • Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn
  • Classified ad sites (Gumtree, Craigslist etc)
  • Or when you specifically want a GIF instead of a spin

Create animated GIFs

Once you've created a spin, you're ready to create a GIF.

Simply append ?image to the spin URL like so:

360 degree spin - animated GIF

Sirv automatically generates GIFs of up to:

  • 72 frames
  • 640px width, 500px height

If your spin has more than 72 frames, Sirv will drop some frames, automatically calculating the optimal space between frames for a smooth animation. If you specify dimensions greater than 640px width or 500px height, Sirv will scale down the GIF to fit within those dimensions.

Customize your GIFs

You can use the entire range of Sirv dynamic imaging options to adjust the speed, watermark, text, frame, scale, crop and optimization of your animated GIF.

Add text to a GIF

The example below shows a 400px height GIF with two text overlays:

360 degree spin GIF with 2 text overlays

The image URL looks like this:

Resize a GIF

Resize a GIF by adding w (width) or h (height) to the URL.

This GIF has been scaled to 250px width:

360 degree spin - animated GIF

This GIF has been scaled to 150px:

360 degree spin - animated GIF

Lossy compression

Sirv generates high-quality GIFs by default, with 5% of lossy compression. This helps reduce the file size while maintaining image clarity.

For smaller file size, increasing the lossy compression will reduce file size by up to 30-40%. Simply add gif.lossy to the URL, with a value between 0 and 100, where 0 is no compression (highest quality) and 100 is maximum compression (smallest file size). This is how to apply 80% compression:

Compare three images with different compression:

10% compression

Animated GIF with 10% lossy compression

1191 KB

40% compression

Animated GIF with 40% lossy compression

937 KB

80% compression

Animated GIF with 80% lossy compression

819 KB

The quality differs depending on the images, so there's no single ideal compression value for all GIFs. Try a few variations to see how much compression suits your images.

Number of frames

You can specify the number of frames of your GIF to reduce file size. For this, add the desired number of frames after ?image= like so:

Here's a comparison of file sizes of spin-created animated GIFs with different frame numbers:


Spin GIF with 72 frames

3125 KB


Spin GIF with 36 frames

2380 KB


Spin GIF with 18 frames

1217 KB

Image file size

GIF file size can easily get out of hand - as much as 3 MB or 5 MB is not uncommon. Be conscious of what size is acceptable for your users - often that may be below 1 MB in size.

File size is determined by image dimensions, number of frames and lossy compression. See how different dimensions can affect file size:

Width Frames File size without compression File size with 80% compression Reduction
120px 36 103 KB 65 KB 37%
256px 36 368 KB 201 KB 45%
350px 36 625 KB 316 KB 49%
500px 36 1220 KB 577 KB 53%

Change GIF speed

Speed up or slow down your GIF by changing the "Autospin speed" option in your Sirv account. It's set at 3600ms by default (3.6 seconds) for one full rotation. Increase this to slow down the spin, decrease the number to speed it up.

Right-click the spin in your account and click "Customize". Under the Autospin settings, adjust Autospin speed:

Adjust the speed of the GIF

After you've adjusted the speed, convert your spin to GIF. Compare these three GIFs with different speed:


Spin GIF with original speed (3600ms)


Slower spin GIF (5000ms)


Faster spin GIF (2500ms)

Alternatively, use profiles to change GIF speed. For this, you will need to create a profile and specify the desired speed of your spin like so:

Screenshot of creating profile with different spin speed

The default value of autospin speed is 3600 ms. This is the time in milliseconds needed for one full rotation of the spin. You can slow down the spin by setting a bigger number in a profile, e.g. 10000:

Spin GIF slowed by adding profile with slower autospin speed

Or make it go faster by setting a smaller number in a profile, e.g. 1800:

Spin GIF made faster by adding profile with faster autospin speed

Using profiles to change the speed is useful if you need to adjust the speed of multiple GIFs. Another benefit of using profiles is the possibility to change the speed of the original spins.

Note that the speed should be set in a profile, not in the autospinSpeed option within the spin URL itself.

Crop a GIF

Crop your GIFs by applying ch (crop height) and/or cw (crop width) to the URL.

The crop starts from the upper left corner. Alternatively, set cx (width) and cy (height) to either center or a value in px or %.

GIFs can be can resized and cropped at the same time, like in this example for removing the background:


Original 360 degree spin GIF


360 degree spin GIF with cropped background

The cropped GIF URL looks like this:

Cropping is also useful if you want to focus on one part of your image:

Cropped animated spin GIF

Create square thumbnails

Sirv has a thumbnail parameter for quickly creating square thumbnail images. Regardless of the aspect ratio, your images will be cropped square from their central point. The dimensions can be up to 1000px.

This example creates a 150px square thumbnail:

Image thumbnail, generated on demand

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