Google’s Latest App Turns Live Photos into GIFs

Google just released another iOS-exclusive application they are calling Motion Stills. The app has just one ability, but it’s a good one: it allows you to convert your Live Photos to animated GIFs.


As of now, Live Photos are only viewable on iOS devices. And they’re only able to be taken on the most recent iPhones. And they’re not accessible anyway else. Not even the Mac. So how do you solve this problem of exclusivety? By having one of the biggest competitors to Apple make a third-party app which benefits almost every other platform on the planet.

Yup, makes plenty of sense.


So how does Motion Still convert your Live Photos into GIFs? Google explains the whole process in their official blog post.

How does it work?

We pioneered this technology by stabilizing hundreds of millions of videos and creating GIF animations from photo bursts. Our algorithm uses linear programming to compute a virtual camera path that is optimized to recast videos and bursts as if they were filmed using stabilization equipment, yielding a still background or creating cinematic pans to remove shakiness.

Our challenge was to take technology designed to run distributed in a data center and shrink it down to run even faster on your mobile phone. We achieved a 40x speedup by using techniques such as temporal subsampling, decoupling of motion parameters, and using Google Research’s custom linear solver, GLOP. We obtain further speedup and conserve storage by computing low-resolution warp textures to perform real-time GPU rendering, just like in a videogame.

And that’s just the conversion. See how Google makes the new GIF loop below.

Making it loop

Short videos are perfect for creating loops, so we added loop optimization to bring out the best in your captures. Our approach identifies optimal start and end points, and also discards blurry frames. As an added benefit, this fixes “pocket shots” (footage of the phone being put back into the pocket).

To keep the background steady while looping, Motion Stills has to separate the background from the rest of the scene. This is a difficult task when foreground elements occlude significant portions of the video, as in the example below. Our novel method classifies motion vectors into foreground (red) and background (green) in a temporally consistent manner. We use a cascade of motion models, moving our motion estimation from simple to more complex models and biasing our results along the way.


One of the best parts about this app is the fact that no network connection is needed to convert a Live Photo into a GIF. It’s all done right on your iDevice. Plus, you don’t even need a Google account. #Score.


You’re also able to create a movie out of one or multiple Live Photos with audio, so your memories are brought to life even more.

You can download Motion Photos on the App Store now for free.

Source: Google via The Verge