Evolution of the GIF: You’ve come a long way (dancing) baby

This is a Intermediate Culture & Entertainment

In 1987, CompuServe released the animated gif; a moving, but silent, indefinitely looping, compressed file format with a palette of up to 256 colours (most of which were used to create flaming “under construction” banners on Geocities pages in the early 90’s.)

25 years later, little has changed as far as the technology itself is concerned – but the ways in which animated gifs are being used to tell stories, communicate, entertain and make money are more sophisticated than most could have imagined, even 5 years ago.

Long gone are the days of cheesy mailbox clipart and Myspace glitter text. Contemporary gifs are breathing new life into the worlds of news, fashion, sports, film, academia, comedy and art.

Reaction and humour gifs continue to function as units of culture within online communities, and with more people making these images than ever before, they spread quickly as a type of social currency through networks like Tumblr and Reddit.

In this session, we will explore the history of the gif from its roots as a simple file format to, as Fast Company writes, “the purest distillation of the web, its unofficial universal language.” We will also touch upon the process of making a gif using just a smartphone, web-based app, or, if the group’s ambitious, Adobe Photoshop.

Some have argued that the evolution of animated gifs parallels the evolution of the internet itself. True or not, this is an important medium that cannot be ignored.

Questions Answered

  1. How to pronounce the word "GIF"
  2. What reaction gifs are, how to use them, and how to find them
  3. How animated gifs are being used today in the worlds of news, art and business
  4. Which iconic gifs you need to know about to avoid looking like a n00b
  5. How to make simple animated gifs using free, web-based services and apps

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