GIFs Why they're cool and how to share them

THE BIG GIF DEBATE

Right, let's get this sorted at the start. Here at DBM Motion Graphics we pronounce it with a hard G, like "golf", unlike "giraffe". We may be wrong but we're sticking to our guns/juns.

WHY GIFS ARE COOL

They shouldn't be, really. Static GIFs have been knocking around since 1985 and their animated counterparts (which is what we're talking about) started appearing in the mid 90s. In computer terms, they're a bit abacus. BUT they work pretty much everywhere and that's increasingly rare these days. They don't care whether you're Mac or Windows, if you're viewing on a desktop or phone, Android or iOS... In fact because they're a bit ancient, they're simple and that makes them compatible with just about anything.

GIFs are great for grabbing attention on social media. They autoplay and loop when people are scrolling down their timelines making them ideal for shouting about your business, whatever that may be.

When we make animations we want our clients to get the most value and use from them so we often take five to ten second chunks and convert them to GIFs. They make great mini-trailers to tease up the main video and generate wider interest. In many cases we'll be able to do this at no extra charge, something which sets us apart from many other motion graphics houses.

BUT DON'T THEY LOOK A BIT PANTS?

Fair point and well made. Yes, they can if you ask too much of them. A GIF can handle 256 colours which sounds a lot but compare them to jpeg files (like your average camera pushes out) with their 16,000,000 colours and you can see they're lacking a bit on that front. The upshot is they can look pretty rough when used for video clips but for animations which use distinct blocks of colour, they look as crisp and clean as you could want. Compare the two examples below to see the difference.

HOW DO I MAKE A GIF?

For such a simple file type, they're actually a bit of a pain the arse to make (well). We make more and more for clients these days and have over time created a pretty much automated system to churn them out but we'll do a separate article soon on how to make them yourself.

DBM MADE ME A LOVELY GIF, HOW DO I SHARE IT?

Why thank you, we're glad you like it. Here you go:

TWITTER

Twitter loves GIFs and they're great for grabbing people's attention as they "autoplay" when you're scrolling down your timeline. To share them on Twitter it's just a case of thinking of them as a photo; if you can upload a pic, it's the same procedure for a GIF. Piece of the proverbial.

FACEBOOK

FINICKITY-BOOK more like. So, FB will allow you to use an animated GIF as your personal profile pic (but not your business one - SORT IT OUT ZUCKERBERG). It will also show GIFs in posts but you can't upload them directly as you would a video file or photo. Instead you need to upload the GIF to a third-party site (at DBM we use GIPHY) which will create a link that you can use on Facebook. Like Twitter the GIFs will automatically play and also loop.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram just does not like GIFS. If we've got a GIF we want to share on Insta we have to convert it to a video file and upload that instead.

EMAIL

Animated GIFs are extremely "emailable". If you want to insert one in a message just treat them as you would a normal photo and you should be fine. You can also use them as animated email signatures. The procedure for this will vary depending on the browser and email system you're using but it's generally a case of opening the GIF in a text editor (such as Notepad on a Windows PC) and then copying the code into your email signature.

ODDS AND SODS

Dropbox plays and stores GIFs no probs. Google Drive will store your GIFs but won't play them in your browser. When you download them though, they'll work fine. You can't use animated GIFs in pdf files. You can't use them in Adobe Spark which is what you're viewing this on - irony not lost.

THE END BIT

We're pretty good at this animation lark, we're no experts on anything else so if you think we've made a mistake please get in touch and we'll rectify it. If you'd like to see examples of our motion graphics and post-production work please click on the button below.

Created By
Rob Birnie
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by citoki0815 - "iPad 4 pixels: round edge of a folder"

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