A Quick and Incomplete History of the Animated GIF

So the history of the GIF, or JIF, goes back to the days of dial-up networks. Your computer would be connected to a device called a modem, and it would dial into a computer network. One of the popular commercial networks in the mid-1980’s was CompuServe. CompuServe introduced the GIF format for downloading and displaying of graphical images. The images were generally small dimensions and the 256 colors that were available was pretty far removed from a true “photographic" image. But it was all in an effort to shorten download time of these graphics.

The original GIF, introduced in 1987, was known as 87a. From the start the GIF supported multiple images within the file, but with an enhanced version known as 89a, you were able to manipulate the animation parameters. In the early 1990’s, when the Internet web browser was introduced, support for loop-able GIFs was born. Thanks to the Netscape web browser, endlessly looping animations were now possible.

Early animated GIFs consisted mainly of practical visual indicators such as under construction signs (for web pages), and animated email buttons. However, as imaging technology became more sophisticated, more complex GIFs were born. In 1996/1997, the most culturally iconic animated GIF of the time was the Dancing Baby - also know as Baby Cha-Cha. The 3D rendered Baby Cha-Cha video was popularized by the TV show Ally McBeal, and the animated GIF version soon followed. This was the beginning of the Animated GIF heyday.

Interest in animated GIFs waxed and waned until a rebirth occured in association with the website Tumblr. Because of it’s easy way of sharing images, and eventual support for files greater than 1 megabyte, Tumblr has become a haven for experimenting with complex animated GIFs. A new class of GIF has come on the scene known as the Cinemagraph and popularized by, among other Tumblr sites, "If We Don’t, Remember Me." - found at iwdrm.tumblr.com.

So what’s the key to a successful animated GIF. The key to an animated GIF is Repetition. The key to an animated GIF is Repetition. The key to an animated GIF is Repetition. Oh, sorry. Anyway, It’s taking the essence of a short moment of a video or film, and looping that moment. The repetition allows for and encourages analysis. Here’s an example. Take this video of a break dancer performing in front of a crowd. We concentrate on his entertaining style - until - something unexpected occurs - [kick!]. When we make this into an animated GIF, the repetition intensifies the uneasy humor of the moment.

Other examples include this hockey player, this boxing kitten, or the kung fu baby. It even allows for the essence of a mashup video to be intensified - as in this example. The art of the animated GIF therefore is somewhere between the still image, frozen in time, and the complete narrative of full motion video. It provides a solid middle ground position that will keep it relevant for years to come.

Resources:

Dancing Baby or Baby Cha-Cha - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5x5OXfe9KY

http://www.theimage.com/animation/toc/toc.html

This information is linked to from the Digital Video website. If that's where you came from you can go back to the Animated GIF page.


http://bavatuesdays.com/the-most-transgressive-moment-in-chinese-cinema/

http://chinesefilm2013.umwblogs.org/2013/03/10/video-tech-workshop-this-wednesday-313/

http://chinesefilm2013.umwblogs.org/2013/03/12/cinematic-analysis-meets-the-gif-extra-credit-opportunity/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_Interchange_Format

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_Interchange_Format#Animated_GIF - Animated GIF section

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rotating_earth_(large).gif - The Rotating Earth GIF

http://www.olsenhome.com/gif/ - Gif pronunciation

So what's the key to an animated GIF? It’s repetition.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff2PBjbFs7A - Break Dancer . . .

http://media.heavy.com/media/2013/01/karate.gif

http://i.imgur.com/EDjEZJP.gif - Endless

http://video.pbs.org/video/2207348428 - PBS "Off Book" Animated GIFs - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuxKb5mxM8g

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinemagraph

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/cinemagraph/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/turnstyle/so-long-animated-gifs-hel_b_853450.html

http://iwdrm.tumblr.com - cinemagraph

http://bionicteaching.com/?p=1728

http://andheblogs.andyrush.net/how-i-survived-christmas-2012/

https://medium.com/message/jif-is-the-format-gif-is-the-culture-af8673796c44

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20140318-can-gifs-be-fine-art

My other contributions - http://andheblogs.andyrush.net/well-just-kiss/, http://andheblogs.andyrush.net/psyning/, http://andheblogs.andyrush.net/thats-easy/

http://ds106.us/wiki/index.php?title=Creating_Animated_GIFs_with_MPEG_Streamclip_and_GIMP

http://gizmodo.com/5941436/how-to-make-a-gif-in-five-easy-steps - If you have Photoshop, it couldn’t be easier!*
* - just in case you need to know how to start Photoshop in “32-bit mode" - http://helpx.adobe.com/en/photoshop/using/run-photoshop-32-bit-mode.html

http://www.helloresolven.com/portfolio/gifbrewery/

Firefox Download Video Helper - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/video-downloadhelper/
MPEG Streamclip - http://www.squared5.com/ - quick trim of video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSLF8ueDu3k

This note is published here: http://andyrush.postach.io/animated-gifs