DamnGood Graphics

Welcome back, GIFs.

I remember as if it was yesterday, back in 1996 when I used to go to my friends’ house because his dad was a teacher and he had something at home called “Internet” that worked through a computer with Windows 3.1. What a spectacular visual performance never seen before!  And what an amazing sound the modem was making!

Web pages, cyberspaces full of text and images accessible from all over the world. Photos that you could actually go and have a coffee while they were still loading.  And in the middle of all that light and colour party, an element was standing out from the rest with that characteristic dynamism and rythim: the animated GIF

The animated GIFs were the special ones at class. Images with a colour palette of only 256 colours and with a colour profile that instead of being RGB, was “Indexed”… the wierdow really. But they were animated and that made them special.

Around the year 2000 with the explosion of Internet and web design, GIFs were pushed to a second level of importance. The new trendy tools like Flash (recently killed by Apple) or code languages like “javascript” were offering much better visual resources with a lower file size. Since then, technologies evolved until nowadays’ HTML5.

Surprisingly, all of  a sudden, around 5 years ago, GIFs started to appear randomly in our screens nobody knows how and why. Then most of the most popular social networks like Facebook or Twitter started allowing GIFs. Something impossible 4 or 5 years ago.

I think the “GIF is back” is due to 2 reasons:

  1. The great technology advance in terms of broadband connection. Years ago, loading a 200k image in a site was a luxe whereas now mobile data connections and tariffs are all set for type of files like this.
  2. The “trend”. The attraction for vintage. GIFs are cool. Fun. They are actually a step further the emojis finding the common emotion taken from that serie or movie. How many emails have you received with a cheeky GIF at the end of it? They are also really handy and all platforms and devices are ok with them.

In the last two editons of OFFF I would confidently say that 80% of the presentations were using GIFs to illustrate concepts during the talk and break the ice with the audience.

I personally start finding these funny GIFs a bit “too much” and I’m sure that this trend won’t last for a long time. However, I think GIFs are a fantastic resource as a format. Special as himself with his 256 indexed colour palette, but a great asset when you need to create dynamic graphics or short animations.