Creating an animated GIF of your brain

Introduction (This is an obsolete web page - take a look at MRIcroGL)

This page describes how to create a GIF movie from your medical images. For example, you can create a movie of a rotating MRI scan and place this on your web page. I wrote this page due to popular demand. Before you start, please consider that movies take a long time to download and often distract from the content of your web page. If you decide to continue, you will need 3 free programs:

  1. MRIcro: you will use this to create your renderings.
  2. IrfanView: This will convert MRIcro's PNG format images to single frame GIF format images.
  3. Microsofts GIF animator: This software will convert single frame GIF images into a multiframe GIF movie.
Step by step details

First, create the images you want with MRIcro. You probably want to read my MRIcro rendering page. You will want to save one picture for each frame of your movie. I find that saving one frame each 15-degrees (e.g. 24 images for a full 360-degree spin) leads to a fluid movie that does not take too long to download. For each frame, choose 'Save as picture...' from MRIcro's 'File' menu. The end result should be 24 images, with names like 'file000.png, file015.png, file030.png,...file345.png'. Make sure to save each image as .PNG format: if you save the images as JPEG format, the movie will end up taking longer to download and will not look as sharp.

Second, start IrfanView and choose 'Batch conversion' from the 'File' menu. You will want to find the folder with your PNG images and press the 'Add all' button. The 'Input files' list should now show all your images. For the 'Output format', select 'GIF' and then press the 'Start' button. A set of GIF format images will be saved to the 'Output directory'. At the end of this step, you should have a series of GIF images, for example: 'file000.gif, file015.gif, file030.gif,...file345.gif'.

Finally, start Microsoft GIF Animator. Drag and drop each image to the panel on the left side. You want to do this in the order you want you images to appear in the movie. Once you have loaded all your images, click on the 'Select all' button (this looks like 3 boxes). Next, click on the 'Animation' tab and check the 'Looping' and 'Repeat forever' checkboxes. Then click on the 'Image' tab and set the duration to 10, and make sure the transparency is not checked. Now press the 'Save' button (floppy disk) to save your rotating GIF.

Here is an example of a my brain rotating forever. To see some impressive movies (in mpeg format), take a look at Dr Paul Morgan's web site.
Animated GIFs are popular because they can be viewed with most web browsers. However, GIFs are limited to 256 colours, and typically offer poorer compression than you can get with lossy compression techniques. Alternative formats include MPG (aka MPEG), AVI, and QuickTime movies. Shift+click here to download an example of a my brain as an AVI movie. I created a series of JPEG images of my brain and then used the free JPGVideo software to create the movie. JPGVideo allows you to to choose from different compression techniques supported by the AVI format. Here I used the Intel Indeo Codec, and the resulting movie requires half the disk space of the corresponding animated GIF (albeit, the image quality is not as good).