Tableau Consultant @ The Information Lab.... this is my personal blog.

Tim Ngwena

Animated gifs: conveying more through images.

Communication is becoming more interactive and images don't always do a moment the justice they deserve; that's where gifs come in. Gifs have been making the rounds on the internet recently, you'll find them all over sites such as Buzfeed or the BBC. A gif (graphics interchange format) is just another image format but it supports sequences which can be looped forever, looped a few times or played once. The result? you can put together animated sequences like the one below that bring an image to life.

Here's some I made while on Holiday in Brussels using Jittergram for iOS.

Making a Gif

The crew at the Verge have put together a neat post on this so have a look at the full post here or watch the brief video below on how to make your own gifs.

Some things to watch out for

  • Very distracting; gifs can take attention away from content you want readers to focus on, you may have noticed I spaced out this post so you didn't immediately see more than one gif on your screen. Use a gif to add to your narrative, not take away.
  • Size matters; my general advice is to make sure you keep your gif file size as small as feasible. This means balancing between the size, quality and length of the animation. For the images I created above, I kept them under 1Mb by down-sizing them and altering the quality.
  • Frame rates and loops; try and make sure that your loops are smooth and the frame rate is appropriate for the animation you have in mind.
  • Don't get too carried away; keep it simple and clear. If you want to make something a little special invest in an app or get a trial version of the right software which can make complex gifs far easier as shown by the Verge staff in the video above. Alternatively use websites such as Blingee or Deal With It GIF Maker or simpler yet just find an already made gif using Google.
Upadte: 11/05/2013 Few apps I should have included in the post:  Cinegram lets you create looped gifs but also allows you to isolate movement, LoopCam for iOS recently got an update which brings it on par with other apps, Giffer for iOS has a less polished UI but carries a ton of features and Gifboom which is more social and sports a gallery of gifs created by other. Have a go and post your creations in the comments below.