GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format and it’s a file format that allows for the creation of awesome, simple animations on the web.
GIFs have been around for basically as long as the web (since 1987), and wreaking havoc the whole time. Many thought that GIFs, with their bright colors, posterization, and popularity among teenage boys, would go the way of the <blink> tag as the web matured.
Instead, GIFs have grown up as the web has. In recent years, GIFs have actually gone high brow. They are now being used by Gwyneth Paltrow to illustrate her recipe how-tos, by The Atlantic Wire to cover the olympics, and this year, the verb ‘to GIF’ (as in, The Guardian is live-giffing the presidential elections) was added to the Oxford English dictionary.
There are lots of benefits to using GIFs instead of other animation formats: first, they are easier to make and use less computer memory than Flash animations. Second, you can send GIFs in emails and your readers can actually see the animations, and lastly, you will have WAY more cred on Tumblr.
Cocktail Party Fact
Do you say GIF with a soft g, as in gin, or GIF with a hard g, as in graphic? Both are right according to the OED. That said, Compuserve, the original creator of the GIF, called it GIF like JIFF peanut butter because “Choosy developers choose GIF.”
How To Make Your Own GIF
- Create your animation frames as different layers in your Photoshop document.
- Click the Timeline on the bottom left side of your screen.
- Adjust the timing of your frames in your timeline.
- Go to File › Save to Web.
- Save the file as a GIF.
- In looping options select “Forever.”
Want to make GIFs on your phone? There’s an app for that!
GifShop is an animated GIF maker for your iPhone. Easily create and edit looping animations, upload to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, all on the go!