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How to create an animated WEBP with Kdenlive and FFMPEG

Step 7. Convert to WEBP

We have to go to the command line to do this.

While true Kdenlive does have a WEBP option for rendering, it's only as an image sequence where every frame is rendered as individual files. That doesn't help us here, so we use FFMPEG instead.

Launch a Terminal or Command Prompt and navigate to where your MP4 file you just rendered is.

Use FFMPEG to convert the MP4 to WEBP with this:

ffmpeg -i video.mp4 video.webp


Final notes (WEBP vs GIF animations)

You most likely noticed that one of the rendering options in Kdenline is "GIF High Quality". Upon seeing that, you may think hey, why not just export an animated GIF directly from Kdenlive and not bother with the FFMPEG WEBP conversion? That would be easier, right?

Yes, easier, but then you run into problems.

Kdenlive actually does a really good job at rendering an animated GIF and even dithers properly, BUT... you end up with a file that is 900% or greater in size than a WEBP and looks worse.

If you render a WEBP and that ends up being 80K, the same thing as a GIF will be 800K or more. On top of that you're fighting with the way GIF does 256 color palettes and frame rate weirdness since you're basically locked at a maximum 20fps at most. And even at 20 there will be some computers (like some smartphones) that won't play the file at proper speed.

The crap necessary to get a GIF file size down

For this example I'm solely concentrating on like-to-like file size for GIF vs. WEBP.

I'll use a clip from another Library of Congress public domain video, The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress because there's a lot more motion going on.

This clip is just 5 seconds with the dimensions of the image 400 pixels wide by 300 tall.

First, the GIF purposely rendered with FFMPEG and not Kdenlive to achieve a smaller overall GIF file size:


Now the WEBP:


These two are almost the same file size and really shows how much greater quality you can cram into a WEBP animation, both for resolution and frame rate.

The GIF is 569K in size. I had to use a non-optimized palette and bring the frame rate all the way down to 3fps just to keep this file under 600K.

The WEBP is 550K in size. Palette is optimized, looks great, and I was able to use 20fps. Yes, 20. That's almost the original film speed of 24fps, and it's STILL smaller than the GIF.

Just for fun, here's the same clip as WEBP with a frame rate of 3fps just like the GIF:


Even at this really low frame rate, it still looks better than the GIF, and the file size has gone all the way down to 83K.

You want optimized? That's optimized. And that's why you use WEBP and not GIF for sharing small animation clips whenever you can.

All major web browsers now support WEBP, so there's really no reason not to use WEBP.

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Published 2024 Jan 4

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