my first animated gif

this is an image

It seems gif animations are making a comeback these days. My pet hate is gif animations which are several megabytes in size and take an eternity to load. The time spent waiting on them to load could have been spent watching a video which would be smoother & better quality. But gifs have their benefits…

Looping a moment forever

The idea of replaying something over and over and over again can add more humour to the moment. There’s a classic simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob steps on a rake. Then he does it again, again, again, again…

The whole concept of repetition in comedy is something that is much debated… wikipedia says that in relation to comedy, “The lowest forms of humour are repetition, toilet humour, sarcasm, and repetition. Repetition is the basis for “Englishman, Irishman, and Scotsman” jokes, where repetition is used to set up a modus operandi before the Irishman (usually assumed to be the stupid one) provides the juxtaposition”.

Back to real world english, and i think what that means is that a joke is usually funny and has the biggest impact first time around. Repeating it is lazy and may provide laughs but the level of laughter and comedy value to the man on the street will steadily decline until the joke becomes so overused that it’s not funny, it’s just insulting. Gifs are a bit like that. You may see something funny and it becomes funnier the second time you see it. If it keeps looping and looping, eventually you’ll get bored of it and exit the image.

However, there are situations where gif images provide tremendous entertainment value. Nobody like clicking on a video link. A video takes time to play and it’s all ‘video-y’. We have this idea that a video is a movie or something we need time to watch. An image on the other hand just requires a quick glance. I’ve no scientific evidence to back all of that up, but it would make for an interesting study – “are people more likely to click on links they know lead to photos or videos?”.

Moving on to my first gif

I watch a lot of music videos on youtube. I’ve developed a keen eye for detail mainly because of youtube comments highlighting flaws in videos. A lot of the time though i think to myself “that would make a cool gif”, or “that bit in the video perfectly represents today’s main news headline”. So today i decided to research, learn & create my own animated gif. Here it is…

It’s a clip from Damo & Ivor’s ‘Big Box Little Box’. I thought it was perfect for budget day. Or it could be used as a sarcastic way to respond to someone, a way to suggest you feel someone is well off / bragging, anythign to do with ‘celtic tiger’ years, or simply to describe banks / government ministerial pensions etc… etc…

As you can see it’s much quicker and easier for someone to link to that image than it is to a video where you’d have to ask people to ‘watch from 2.54 to 2.57’ to see what i’m talking about. The comedy value is lost that way.

The how

I know some of you more creative & tech minded types will want to know how i did this or how you can do this. I won’t go in to much detail now (i’ll try to create a seperate step by step post) but first of all i had to download the video from youtube. Then i had to convert it from flv format in to mov format. Then i discovered photoshop 64bit doesn’t allow you to create animated gifs, only the 32bit does. Luckily you can enable 32bit photoshop on a Mac with the switch of a very well hidden button. Then you import the video as frames (basically a bunch of images) and photoshop sitches them together.

So that image above is about 35 frames stitched together, all compressed down to about a 900kb file. As i pointed out earlier, i could have made it bigger in resolution / better quality but i’d end up with a gif image about 4mb in size which takes too long to load. Rule no.1 with gifs is that they have to load almost instantly, otherwise their value is diluted.



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