GIFs were a thing of the past, but now they want back in through social networking.
To begin, I would like to settle a debate that has been bugging me for a while. The prounication of GIF. I have heard it pronounced with a hard g like “gift” and I have also heard it said with a soft g as like “jiffy”. GIF is actually an acroynm for Graphic Image File therefore making it a graphic. So stop making it sound like you’re looking at peanut butter online.
Anyway, I love GIFs. I love finding funny ones from TV shows, movies, music videos, and of cats doing silly things. They are simple mini video clips, usually a second or two long on loop that never ends. The best part is that Apple now allows GIFs to be sent over texting which has greatly enhanced my conversations with friends.
I took a photography class a few years ago and learned how to actually turn my pictures and videos into GIFs by using Photoshop. I sat down with the teacher that taught me how to do that recently.
“Oh I don’t teach that anymore, they’re awful” say Professor Brain Lawler of the Graphic Communications Program at Cal Poly.
“They have two benefits. One that that are small in file size and two they support animation.” GIF file types were the first of their kind to support transparency and motion, which was it’s immediate appeal. But with the invention of PNG files that support transparency and new types of video files, GIFs were pointless. According to Professor Lawler, GIFs peaked in the 90s and but he is curious to see how their return is going.
The GIF comeback would not have happened if wasn’t for social networks like Reddit and Tumblr. These sites are based on a platform that focuses on images. You can sit there for hours just scrolling without stopping. It’s really simple to get lost in these sites. GIF uses spand anywhere from reactions to other photos to images that bring us together. A perfect example of GIF success on the internet is the Tumblr How Do I Put This Gently. The titles of their posts are common situations and the reaction is a GIF that could be from just about anything. It’s hard to NOT relate to their posts.
With the success and the fun had on these sites with GIFs and the winner of Time’s Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year in 2012, app creators saw it as an opportunity to market GIF in a new way.
Most people with cellphones can capture video, so why not make your videos into GIFs and share them in new mobile social networks. Top GIF apps include Gifboom, Cinemagram, and Gifture. I do have a Cinemagram account. I am not very popular, don’t have a lot of friends, and the only likes are from my 3 friends on it. But I am trying. I have only turned a few of my concert videos into GIFs.
I was attracted to its similarities to Instagram and the nifty effects you can do to your work. There are times in my daily life when I think “Wow I wish I had a GIF of that facial gesture that I could keep in my pocket forever.” With these new GIF creating programs, that can be a possibility. But from my personal experience and from the information gathered from friends, it’s having a rough start.
So will GIF social networking become as big as Facebook or Instagram? Right now as much as I wish it would, no. I think GIFs know their place on the internet and let’s face it, none of our homemade videos will be as good as the ones created on the web. They are hilarious tools used to reminisce about clips on a loop. I don’t think a social network will catch on because if the video is funny it will be sent to YouTube, the clip will be shortened, and then the GIF will end up somewhere on Tumblr. That’s how it works today and I think that’s the way it’s going to stay for a while.
So there’s my thoughts on the GIF Social Networking If you want to join the people that are trying to make GIF apps happen and see some of my own person GIFs follow me on Cinemagram @lindseyonline . Have a lovely day.