Wednesday 19 March 2014

Animated GIFs

The graphics image file GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) has been with us since 1987. The file format was enhanced to include various images or frames within the same file so as to produce animation. Since then, animated GIFs have become a staple for both amusing and wondrous mini-films. A short clip of a politician turns into an Internet meme where a repeated movement accentuates a gaffe. A bit from the latest film or the latest hit TV show reminds us of that significant moment when hero or heroine overcome obstacles to triumph over evil. Or just some curious and or hilarious moment (animal or human) gives us that infinite loop of "What were they thinking?"

Ha, ha. Just another day at the office.

OMG, this is hilarious. I'm still trying to find out where it came from.

Woo-hoo! I want to try this!

Rob Ford
Toronto's Mayor has certainly put the city on the map although maybe not in the manner its citizens would hope for. There are numerous animated GIFs highlighting some of Ford more colourful moments and the following takes news footage and loops a memorable moment of chaos in the city council chambers.

Canada.Com - Nov 18/2013
VIDEO: Rob Ford bowls over Councillor Pam McConnell during epic council meltdown by William Wolfe-Wylie

Uploaded on Mar 7, 2012 by PBSoffbook
Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios (6:52)
GIFs are one of the oldest image formats used on the web. Throughout their history, they have served a huge variety of purposes, from functional to entertainment. Now, 25 years after the first GIF was created, they are experiencing an explosion of interest and innovation that is pushing them into the terrain of art. In this episode of Off Book, we chart their history, explore the hotbed of GIF creativity on Tumblr, and talk to two teams of GIF artists who are evolving the form into powerful new visual experiences.

A few of but a zillion examples to be found on the Web

Where to stop? The number of examples on the Net is staggering and the variety of looping images makes you shake your head. However, I am going to show in some subsequent postings a relatively new twist on animated GIFs: the animation of still photos.


Wikipedia: Graphics Interchange Format
The Graphics Interchange Format (better known by its acronym GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.

The creators of the format pronounced GIF as "Jif" with a soft "G" /ˈdʒɪf/ as in "gin". Steve Wilhite [the inventor] says that the intended pronunciation deliberately echoes the American peanut butter brand, Jif, and CompuServe employees would often say "Choosy developers choose GIF", spoofing this brand's television commercials.

Animated GIF
Basic animation was added to the GIF89a spec via the Graphics Control Extension (GCE), which allows various images (frames) in the file to be painted with time delays. An animated GIF file comprises a number of frames that are displayed in succession, each introduced by its own GCE, which gives the time delay to wait after the frame is drawn. Global information at the start of the file applies by default to all frames. The data is stream-oriented, so the file-offset of the start of each GCE depends on the length of preceding data. Within each frame the LZW-coded image data is arranged in sub-blocks of up to 255 bytes; the size of each sub-block is declared by the byte that precedes it.

By default, however, an animation displays the sequence of frames only once, stopping when the last frame is displayed. Since GIF is designed to allow users to define new blocks, Netscape in the 1990s used the Application Extension block (intended to allow vendors to add application-specific information to the GIF file) to implement the Netscape Application Block (NAB). This block, placed immediately before all the animation frames, specifies the number of times the sequence of frames should be played. (The value 0 signifies continuous display.) Support for these repeating animations first appeared in Netscape Navigator version 2.0, and then spread to other browsers.[18] Most browsers now recognize and support NAB, though it is not strictly part of the GIF89a specification.

Google image search: animated gif
As I said, there are zillions of them.

Google image search: how to make an animated gif
How is it done? There are plenty of video tutorials.

Google image search: how to make an animated gif from video

My blog: Cinemagraph: The Work of Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck - Mar 23/2014
Two New York artists have created an amalgamation of of photography, video, and animated GIF.

My blog: Animating Still Photos - Mar 22/2014
I discovered that people had found the means to add movement to a still photograph with stunning results.


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