Adobe After Effects allows you to import all types of picture files including GIF files. Animated GIFs are an image file that features a packaged together string of pictures that appear sequentially to show a short animation or text. GIFs can play once then stop or continually play in a loop that shows the animation over and over again. In After Effects, you can import GIF files and loop them or export your project as a GIF.
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Import GIF Files
Right-click in the project window and select "Import File." An Explorer window will appear on the screen. Click on the GIF that you want to import into the project and press "OK." The file will appear in the project screen. Next to the file name it will list "Quicktime Movie" as the file type. This means that After Effects correctly recognizes it as a GIF animation and converted it automatically into a movie file.
Drag and drop the GIF file into the Layers window to add it to the project. To loop the GIF, copy and paste the layer for as many times that you want to loop it within the project. After each time you paste the GIF, drag the timeframe meter to the edge of the previous GIF. This will keep the looping pattern within the project. Play the video back to watch for any glitches that may occur within the loop.
In Adobe After Effects CS5 or later, the process of exporting GIF files has been disabled and replaced with a generic Quicktime file. Adobe requires you to export it as a Quicktime file and then import the movie file into Adobe Photoshop. From Photoshop, you can export the GIF and select the "Looping" option at the bottom of the window to create the looping GIF. The same process can also be completed in Adobe Premiere Pro.
Older Versions of After Effects
In Adobe After Effects CS4 or lower, you still have the option of exporting a GIF file. Go to "Window" and select "Render Queue." Click on the "Format" drop-down window and select "Animated GIF." An options window will appear on the screen. Select the quality of the GIF you are creating. In the bottom right corner of the screen, select the "Looping" option and press "OK." Now the GIF will loop every time you open it.