The emergence of the Internet and more or less instant messaging has given rise to new forms of communication. While smileys (later known as emoticons and emojis) were quickly adopted by young people in the early 2000s, recent years have seen the popularity of a new form of non-verbal communication, the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), an animated image – sometimes funny, sad or simply unusual – used to communicate a mood or reaction.
What is a GIF?
A GIF is simply an animated image, a kind of video lasting just a few seconds that runs in a loop, often of low quality so that it can be sent and received easily.
GIFs are often originally extracts from films or videos found on the Internet. The GIF’s creator simply isolates a few seconds from the film or video that best convey what he or she wants to say.
Where can I find the best free GIFs?
- Giphy This is the best-known site for finding animated GIFs. Some brands have channels on Giphy where they post regularly. With the Gifmaker feature, you can also create your own Gifs.
- Reaction Gif: If you’re looking for GIFs to convey a reaction, in a comment for social networks for example, you’ll find what you’re looking for on reactionsgifs.com, where they’re sorted by emotion. You can note whether you’re angry – happy – scared and the Reaction Gif site will suggest the corresponding GIF.
- Reddit: You can also find GIFs on the social network Reddit. If you’re a Reddit member, you can also suggest your own GIF or rate the best animations.
- Blogs specialising in GIFs: Like gifanime.tumblr.com, there are many blogs devoted entirely to GIFs, sorting and classifying them and listing them by category of emotion or reaction: humour, sadness, anger, unusual, etc. You can, without taking too many risks, find GIFs on these blogs. It’s safe to say that there is at least one blog for every GIF category.
Where do GIFs come from?
The GIF is not a recent invention. It was developed by CompuServe in 1987 with the aim of enabling moving images to be sent at a time when videos were far too heavy to be downloaded easily or quickly.
Later, with the emergence of Web 2.0 in the 2000s, the GIF fell into oblivion. Online video-sharing sites were taking their first steps, and the poor resolution of GIFs and their dull colours (256 shades instead of 16,777,216 in a traditional RGB palette) made them look like an uninteresting piece of junk.
So how do you explain the success of these animated images?
The GIF made a surprising and unexpected comeback on the Internet in the 2010s. Its universal format, which was already familiar to everyone, probably helped as much as the reliability of its operation. What’s more, the arrival of the first smartphones, which, like the first computers, could not load and play videos that were too heavy, gave this format renewed interest.
The ease with which it can be sent and received quickly found a powerful echo in the way social networks worked, based on the mass publication of comments, and the GIF was quickly used to convey an emotion or a reaction. Are you excited by an article? You’ll probably find a GIF of your favourite TV character rolling his or her eyes and reacting without a word.
Where can you find royalty-free GIFs?
Everywhere on the Internet! GIFs have been widely adopted by the vast majority of users of social networks and the Internet in general. So much so that they can be found just about everywhere, and you can’t be completely unaware of the phenomenon.
Some sites and social networks even offer a GIF tab in their online comment system, so that users can choose from a huge database of GIFs to match their mood.
Funny, unusual, horror or even erotic, there’s something for everyone.
GIFs are not a phenomenon confined to humour on the Internet. It’s really a new way of communicating that everyone is embracing, in communications, the media, art and politics.
Marketing and political professionals have also seized on it, sensing the potential of this new communication technique to reach a younger, more connected and trendier audience. Some sites, such as un-gif-da-gueule.tumblr.com, also offer artistic GIFs.
Creating animated images online
Another reason for the success of GIFs is the proliferation of solutions for producing them. These days, anyone can create a GIF in a matter of seconds, share it and have an immediate impact across the world if it is shared massively.
Sites for creating animated GIFs
The solution most often used is online sites that offer the opportunity to make your own GIF. All you have to do is copy the link to the video you want to make a GIF of, the site will import it and all you have to do is enter the exact timecode of the passage you want to isolate and wait for the site to do its job.
- Giphy: the star site has a GIF Maker. Just click on the ‘Create’ button. You’ll need a Giphy account to create your own animated images.
- Gifmaker.me: this site offers a simple solution. You can import a video or several images to create your GIF.
- imgur.com: This platform lets you host images. It also has a GIF creation function.
- Bloggif: Visit bloggif.com to discover all the tools you need to create or edit a GIF.
- Software for creating GIFS
- Another, more complete but more complicated solution is to download specialist software. This software allows you to create GIFs from any video you’ve uploaded or filmed yourself. This software is more complete because it lets you add effects and choose the quality and size of your final file.
So the GIF has invaded the Internet in a big way and has become a way of communicating in its own right. Like the meme, it is one of the developments in language and communication typical of the Internet, and one that still amazes linguists and other specialists in verbal and non-verbal languages.
Archives of blogs displaying GIFS
It’s hard to survive in the GIF world. Some sites are no longer updated with new content, but you can still find a good archive. One example is iwdrm.trimbr.com, which pays tribute to thousands of films by transforming them into GIFs. On giftonic.tumblr.com/, you can find many archives.
Would you like to offer a GIF platform? Do you have a question about GIFS? Coup d’œil invites you to interact by posting a comment on this article.
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