In the process of creating stickers for TikTok (via GIPHY), I have been learning things at every turn. A GIF without a transparent alpha channel, for instance, is not a “sticker.” GIPHY apparently automatically assigns one label or the other when you upload a new creation. Since I’m still waiting to hear back from them as to the fate of my brand account upgrade, I am still very much in the dark about how this will ultimately play out when moving my artwork from GIPHY to TikTok. However, if TikTok calls their entire library “stickers,” it seems to follow that any GIFs which are lacking that sticker label will probably not make it to being live on TikTok.

Furthermore, any stickers which are of insufficient resolution will likely be screened out before going live on the app formerly known as “Musical.ly.” This could be a real nightmare for someone like me because the software that I use to create my motion graphics–and even my still MEMEs for that matter (I could do a whole post on why I prefer Apple’s $49 software to high priced juggernauts, but that would certainly be a digression)–can be very quirky when it comes to resolutions during export. This is especially true when dealing with text, and even more so if that text is animated.

I’m not a software engineer, but I believe that it comes down to the way animation is rendered in Motion. Movement in film/video is an illusion, as we all know. It isn’t actually a temporally flowing event we’re watching, but rather a series of individual still frames which are slightly different from one another, but which are shown to us in rapid succession. High end films retain nearly perfect resolution, with no blurring, even when motion on screen is chaotic and quick.

But, and I’m guessing it’s about saving space (compression) and keeping the price tag low for the software, but Motion seems to handle this in an old-school way: breaking up each frame into two, slicing 50% of each out in an every-other-line fashion, and then merging half of one frame with half of the next. This leads to very obvious striation on screen at lower render settings, and even at the highest settings, if the overall image isn’t large enough, you can see these “artifacts” quite visibly.

So, to make a long story short…oh, who am I kidding? This is already too long for a post about GIF/sticker resolutions! This was a very long way of saying that I have figured out that the resolution that I was making “stickers” at was likely too small (and therefore of insufficient resolution and/or quality) to make it to TikTok.

I had been making them at a resolution of 750 by 250, or 3:1. But this led to several of my creations displaying blurry or with an excess of the aforementioned artifacts. Since many of my stickers are 100% animated text, this was a real problem. Here is an example of one that I made at this resolution:

When I realized my error, I did a little more research and found that I would need to upscale to at least 1080 x 360. So far, this resolution is working better for me. What do you think? Please tell me in a comment!!!!

As I’m typing this post, I noticed that the new, higher resolution one, is displaying with more blurring than the older, smaller one. That one displaying poorly was the entire impetus for writing this post, and now I’m wondering if it wasn’t just a “processing” thing on GIPHY’s end? Maybe the new one will look better tomorrow?

Stand by to stand by. –Mad Squid