Making short GIFs of YouTube videos is a pretty well-established practice now — so much so that there's dozens of websites dedicated to this finest of art forms. But YouTube might be about to make them all obsolete, thanks to a new built-in GIF maker.
At the moment, it looks like the feature is experimental — the only channel we can find with it enabled is the PBS Idea Channel. In practice, it's pretty slick: on a video with GIF capability, you click Share, then GIF, and can then customize your clip. Maximum length is six seconds, with options to add top and bottom text if needed. Actual GIF creation takes seconds.
Update: There's now a Beta sign-up page where users with Channels can sign up for the feature. YouTube says it will contact you about the next phase of the beta testing if you've signed up. "We are testing this new feature with a handful of creators and look forward to adding new ones soon," it says."
It's unclear what YouTube's plans for the future of this feature are, at this stage. But assuming that a site-wide rollout is imminent, you should probably prepare your browser for the impeding onslaught of moving images.
What this means for the future of the cat-GIF genre is unclear. [Youtube]