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Animated GIFs ~ A Love Affair

What makes something stand the test of time? Is it love? A combination of beauty and function? Love, for me at least, is hard to put into words, but whatever it is, it is not often without its dramatics. In my small experiences, it seems sometimes love is fickle and waning; and can reawaken years later full of regret and longing.

Whatever feeling you might have for Animated GIFs, I would like to declare that I have always loved them! Since my first Photoshop class, I could make things go BOOM! In other words, I could make things move and it was awesome for me. It was a fantastically easy concept for me to grasp. Making frames in Photoshop layers and then saving for the Web — it was born! These animated GIFs could easily be loaded into a Web page and broadcasted out to be received by many. This was a powerful concept for me.

Animated GIFs, born in the late 80s and growing up into the 90s, were mostly ugly, badly-colored illustrations that flashed “Sale” or “Sorry, we’re under construction”. Later, they morphed into varying degrees of glittery “Happy Birthday” on MySpace pages. And such was the life of the animated GIF, with much to be desired but undoubtedly even more uncovered potential, misused and abused in countless banner ads across the Web.

With the introduction of Adobe Flash animation (way cooler) and its interactive features, GIFs were dismissed as a Web faux pas. That is until recent years. Animated GIFs are now showing a strong come back. I’d like to think it’s because its something I love (so, of course, it’s cool), but it’s also because animated GIFs are simple to execute and an effective medium for, well, making things move.

So, along with the vast potential for art, the animated GIF seems also to be paving the way for comedy and I think that is a win-win. All you have to do is Google “animated GIF blog” and you’ll see dozens from the “pop culture reference” animated GIF blogs. One of my favorites is called, What Should We Call Me.

Lately, I have been particularly enthralled by a new medium called the Cinemagraph style of animated GIFs. This technique gives flat images a subtle breath of life — a new way to display images and mood — somewhere between a movie and a photograph. Done right, it can produce a fantastic effect. Check out these wonderful peoples’ work at From Me to You.  Also, be sure to watch the PBS video, PBS Traces the History of Animated GIFs.




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  1. kbiswas says: May 22, 2012

    I <3 .gifs too! Best comeback story

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