YouTube gives the gift of GIFs this Christmas

YouTube is a great source of entertainment, but don't you wish that sometimes people would just cut to the chase?

There are plenty of videos of epic length, often comprising a massive build up to a short punchline. Why not cut the rubbish and get to the point?

One way to do this when re-sharing YouTube videos is to convert the interesting portion into an animated GIF, saving viewers time and bandwidth.

YouTube itself is getting in on the web's rekindled interest in animated GIFs. A new beta program has been opened up that lets YouTube users transform lengthy video into snapper clips of up to six seconds in length.

This is essentially a readymade meme creator. Find a video you like - on a channel that has the feature activated - and you can select the most pertinent six second of footage.

You can choose to be even more concise if you like, but you have up to six seconds to play with. But what meme would be complete without a caption? YouTube is on the ball and has included a captioning option for added humorous potential.

Over on the beta sign up page Google explains that: "We are testing this new feature with a handful of creators and look forward to adding new ones soon. Please sign up here to be contacted about the next phase of the Beta test".

There's no word on when, or indeed if, the feature will be made generally available, but anyone who is interested in taking part during the beta phases is invited to put forward their proposals for how they will use the GIF maker.

There are two suggested stock replies - "create GIFs to promote my channel", or "allow fans to interact with my videos" - but there's also an "Other" option if you'd like to get a little more creative, or amusing, with your reply.

So... prepare yourself for an influx of animated GIFs on your Facebook wall and Twitter feed in the coming weeks and months!

Photo credit: Stuart Miles / Shutterstock