Return of the GIF: 5+ Rad Ways to Play with GIFs

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

Like instant film and harem pants, GIFs are making quite the comeback.

They may have had an awkward start back in their earlier days, but now GIFs are easier to craft and looking better than ever thanks to lasers, smart phones, and good old fashioned creativity.

We found the raddest and baddest ways to make and show off GIFs from real-life GIF zoetropes to making your phone’s background animated.

Creepy dancing Ally McBeal baby, step aside. There are new GIFs in town.

How to Kick Your GIFs Up a Notch

Main image credit: GIF Shop

1. History of the GIF

beforeShort for Graphics Interchange Format, the GIF came out in the late eighties as a bitmap image format that was able to support animation.

Like the adolescent years, many of the earlier GIFs were animated awkwardly and sometimes spastically.

Yet their ability to capture animation captured our own beating hearts by providing us the means to make a more dynamic kind of photo or illustration.

Like Batman. With kittens. Awww.

GIF via this isn’t happiness.

2. Hey iPhone, you GIF?

beforeYour iPhone can GIF thanks to some neat apps, like:

  • GIF Shop – Lets you edit and loop your GIFS with neat features like onion skinning, which helps you line up different shots.
  • Giffer – Has a cool photo picker that lets you select more than one photo at a time.
  • Loopcam – This one’s free! It’s a stripped-down app that lets you make GIFs from photos quick and easy.
  • Figgif – Lets you make a GIF from video you record on your phone.

Android users: As of now, we haven’t found stellar GIF apps for Android, but we’ll update here if any better ones pop up!

3. The Cinemagraph: The Glorified GIF

beforeIf early GIFs are comparable to the awkward adolescent years, then cinemagraphs are GIFs in their most golden age—sleek and très chic.

First introduced by the talented team of photographer Jaime Beck and motion designer Kevin Burg, these sophisticated GIFs took the web world by storm, eliciting oooo’s and aah’s from fascinated viewers.

Get inspired by Beck and Burg’s cinematic creations, and then get right into making your with our cinemagraph tutorial!

4. GIF up your iPhone screen!

beforeFor you iRebels rockin’ jailbroken iPhones, show off more of that dissident spirit by GIF-ing up your lockscreen.

With some patience and this custom lockscreen tutorial, an animated iPhone lockscreen will soon be yours to rock and roll.

Warning to tech n00bs—this requires quite some tinkering to work, so proceed with caution and extra patience!

5. The Real World: GIF edition

beforeWait, you mean, GIFs aren’t limited to viewing just on the computer screen?

Nope—thanks to Greg Borenstein & Scott Wayne Indiana, the creative folks who make GIF zoetropes at Physical GIFs!

Physical GIFs are based on the persistence of vision: when a series of frames moving quickly is perceived as one moving image by your eyes and brain.

Each frame of a GIF is carved by lasers out of plexiglass, and then the frames are animated with the use of a spinning disc and a strobe light. See one in action in this video!

They’ve recently reached their fundraising goal on Kickstarter, so expect to see some real-time GIFs proudly displayed on some lucky coffee tables soon!

6. Turn Videos into GIFs!

beforeWanna make a GIF from a section of your favorite YouTube video, or your own video files? GIF ’em right up with the following converter sites:

  • GIFsoup – The chicken soup for your digital soul, GIFsoup basically helps you turn your own YouTube videos into a GIF!
  • Bender Converter – This nifty converter can make GIFs from a plethora of sites, including YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook!

GIF created from video featuring Raoul Ortega and filmed by David McClymonds.

GIF me more

  • Have Photoshop or Gimp but never GIF-ed before? Learn how to make ’em in Photoshop and in Gimp.
  • No Photoshop? No worries! GIFninja is here to save the day. As is Picasion and Gickr! These are just three examples of free GIF makers available for you to use on the interwebz.
  • Not only can your GIFs move, they can wiggle and look 3D, too. Make your own wiggle 3D GIF—like David Fitzsimmon’s GIF above!
  • Fruits can get their GIF on, too—check out these amazing animated MRI fruit scans created by MRI technologist Andy Ellison!
  • Made an awesome GIF and dying to share it to the world? Upload your pixel-moving masterpieces to your own blog, or have ’em join the GIF party! Did your cat star in your GIF? There’s a page to showcase your cat’s animated antics, too!

Thanks to David Fitzsimmon’s for the Wiggle 3D photo! Check out his rad animal photo book Curious Critters, too!