GIF, where’d you come from?

GIF, where’d you come from?

They’re everywhere – WHY?!

In short, GIF = Graphics Interchange Format. GIFs have become super popular in recent years and we’re not surprised. At Polite Social, we’ve been using the infamous GIF for over 5 years now – it’s one of our most popular services. So what is it? Where did it come from? How are they used? Why oh why do people love them so much? Look no further, we’re about to give you all the answers!

A GIF is a bitmap image format that supports up to 8 bits per pixel, has a colour palette of 256 colours and can also be animated. Basically, they’re image files that are compressed to reduce transfer time.

Believe it or not, GIFs turned 30 this year – wild! Back in 1986 Steve Wilhitean, an employee of early online service Compuserve, was challenged to create a file that achieved two things: it had to work on all types of computers AND it had to display images quickly using a slow connection. Well, when you combine those two things, you land yourself a GIF… apparently. FUN FACT: In 2013 Steve told the NY Times that GIF should be pronounced with a soft ‘G’:
“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

We’ll just leave that with you for a moment.

These days, GIFs are most popular for creating loops of a series of images or a video. They’re even being considered a form of art with the Motion Photography Prize being awarded to artists who create the best art GIF. Click here to see the Washington Post’s article on the 2014 award.

A fun alternative to the traditional still photo, GIFs are becoming more and more popular as a form of branded content at consumer activations. Our GIF booths are open air so participants can move freely while capturing their #killershot.

Boomerang GIFs work in a similar way to normal GIFs, except the series of captured images is continuously looped forward and backward. For example, a 5 frame Boomerang GIF loops frames: 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1… and so on. The speed, length and design can all be customised, which is super cool!

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