Blow Out the Candles: The “GIF” Turns 25

GIFs. I was using them a lot in ’06 on my MySpace, but hadn’t thought about it much since. As it turns out, the image format turned 25 years old recently, and the “grown up” GIF is enjoying a resurgence of popularity.

The GIF’s new notoriety is partly the result of faster computers and improved bandwidth, paired with popularity of Tumblr. Because the quality of the GIF has dramatically improved and now contains many more frames, users like graphic artists are experimenting with the format to deliver localized areas of motion within photographs. Done right, today’s GIF looks more more like a video clip, and less like flipbook animation.

One company is lighting the candles for this birthday celebration.

Cinegif provides patented technology that converts video and still images to animated GIFs. The company also provides quality enhancing compression that makes smaller files sizes, allowing these little critters to be used in more places on the web. Graham McFarland, CEO of Cinegif explains, “A good modern GIF captures just enough of a specific moment in time to illustrate emotion, yet leaves enough out to spark your curiosity.”

Afterall, GIF technology does, in fact, fulfill a need. Today’s GIF solves the problem of capturing the attention of the digital user at a time when on-line attention spans are decreasing while the amount of content and information is exploding. McFarland explains, “Our goal at Cinegif is to show how this light-weight medium is perfect for business marketing, and a unique way to attract and engage customers.”

The company recently launched Cinegif Video, an iPhone app that makes texting and e-mailing more fun, personal, engaging and meaningful by allowing users to add their own instant play video clips to everyday mobile communications. Unlike traditional video, Cinegif Video creates small, animated GIF files that play instantly on most smart phones.

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But McFarland wasn’t always enamoured with this once-dormant image format–he stumbled upon it, you might say. “My first ah-ha moment was looking at Tumblr and seeing thousands of GIFs uploaded everyday primarily by teenagers,” McFarland recollects. “My second ah-ha moment happened just days later when I discovered the high quality animated GIFs created by NYC fashion photographers Jamie Beck and Kevin Berg as well as Reed+Rader.”

Today, Cinegif is committed to show how a trend originally started by artists and teens is ready to move into the mainstream of advertising and marketing. Look for the company’s launch of a new Cinegraph later this month. The new feature will allow users to select a portion of the video or sequential still image and continue moving it, freezing all other movement. McFarland promises, “This will be the first of its kind, do-it-yourself service on the web and will allow any creative or marketing professional to easily make unique, ready-to-use designs.”

AdGif

The next step for the GIF is acceptance and integration into the $260B advertising and marketing industry.  Collectively, GIFs are a perfect format to help businesses of all sizes attract, engage and communicate in a new way – one that still images and video cannot.  GIF Marketing is the next big trend, and here are 5 ways you can jump on board right now.

You can find all sorts of inspiration at Cinegif’s GIF of the Day website. 

Connect with Andre Bourque (SocialMktgFella) at Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+ 

 

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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