Gifs are a significant part of our culture. They can convey artistic expression, humor, and entertainment in short animated loops. They are fun, amusing, and even a bit hypnotizing! But, what exactly are gifs? And why are they so darn fun?
Gif—which stands for Graphics Interchange Format—is a bitmap file format that’s been around since the late 1980s. This file size is generally small and easily shareable, and gifs provide universal browser support, meaning anyone on any internet browser can enjoy a good gif.
Today, gifs are a fun form of communication that evokes positive emotions. According to an article in Time Magazine, “More than half of people of all ages said they use emojis and GIFs in messages to make people laugh, to lighten the mood and because they “make conversations more fun.” Even my mom has become a master of sharing gifs in our text messages! It feels safe to say that gifs have become another form of language and self-expression that humans just get.
Here are a few gifs I’ve recently found and personally enjoy.
- Chasing Light
There’s some playfulness and mystery to this gif that I really like. Despite only using a handful of colors, there’s a lot of depth and 3-dimensionality to it. The different speeds of motion between the “light bug” and the character evoke excitement and curiosity.
From a design perspective, I appreciate the concept of mix-matching the lettering to mimic the story of variants and different timelines in the show. The varied pacing in which the letters switch also adds to the disjointed feeling of this gif–which is precisely how it should feel given the context.
2. Loki Typographic Logo
3. Read between the lines
By reading between the lines, you experience a whole different world. The organic shapes radiating outwards add a sense of energy and excitement to the animation. The fast-paced movement of the forms adds enthusiasm.
4. Chanel Collage
I’ve always been a fan of collages and the art of putting familiar objects into a different context. The jolty animation feels light and fun. The use of color to build layers and break up the background and foreground is lovely.
5. Cultural References
Simple gifs like the ones below reveal some of their fun and relatable qualities. Without using words, you can incorporate gifs like these into a conversation and convey what you’re feeling or thinking in a catchy way.
How Gifs Are Made
Gifs can use all sorts of motion graphics techniques. Some of the most common methods include:
Stop Motion is the process of stitching several slightly different images together to convey motion. Stop motion is used for classic movies like Gumbi or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, to more recent works of art like Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The White Stripe’s music video for “Fell in Love with a Girl.”
Key Framing or Tweening
Deriving from the word “inbetween”, Tweening allows you to define the start and endpoint of a scene’s movement. A program (like Adobe After Effects or Animate) can calculate and create the transition between those two points.
Onion skinning is the act of drawing your new frame over a transparent image of your previous frame. By layering the previous frame with the current frames, you can more accurately draw the transition between movements between each frame. This process is generally used to get a more accurate idea of how motion will change in a sequence.
Creating Gifs of My Own
After some initial research and inspiration, it was time to try making a few gifs of my own. Using the coffee shop theme from the last post, I made these fellas.
Overall, I found the exploration into the world of gifs to be inspiring and fun. Gifs easily bring any image to life to tell a unique story and create something engaging.
Upono. (2017, September 29). 6 Great Music Videos that Use Stop Motion Animation. https://www.upuno.com/blog/2017/09/6-great-music-videos-use-stop-motion-animation/
Watch Mojo. (2014, April 9). Top 10 Stop-Motion Animation Movies. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87gSm9HLB_0
Adobe. (n.d.). Creating animated action with tweening.https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/video/discover/tweening.html
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Gif. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GIF
Hue. (n.d.). What is Onion Skinning?https://huehd.com/ufaqs/onionskinning/?ph=520e08a63daa08ffebfa06f6
Steinmetz, K. (2017, June 27). Forget Words, a Lot of Millennials Say GIFs and Emojis Communicate Their Thoughts Better Than English. Time Magazine. https://time.com/4834112/millennials-gifs-emojis/
Yao, Richard. (2018, April 5). The Surging Popularity of GIFs In Digital Culture. IPG Media Lab. Medium. https://medium.com/ipg-media-lab/the-enduring-popularity-of-gifs-in-digital-culture-54763d7754aa
Caduff, Chantal. (n.d.). Cosmpola. https://cosmopola.de/visual-artists/chantal-caduff/c/overview