Shutterings and Mutterings - photography blog

The return of the animated gif

Way back in the 1990s, when the internet was new, animated images - usually cute or comic - became incredibly popular. You could make your own using something like Paintshop but if you didn't have the confidence or patience there were online libraries with loads of downloadable animations.

Then a browser called Netscape came along and introduced the now infamous BLINK tag, which made text blink on and off. It wasn't long before half of the internet seemed to be blinking.

Sounds like it could get rather annoying? It certainly did. Within a year or so BLINK text was considered incredibly bad form and it died out. From what I can work out, the tag is pretty much extinct in HTML although there are apparently some ways to achieve the effect with CSS and JavaScript. However, it made text difficult to read.

Animated gifs went the same way and, as broadband replaced dial-up connections, video streaming took over.

However, over the past year gif animations have been making a comeback. This time around they look more sophisticated. Instead of cartoon-like artwork, photographic images are coming to life all over social media.

I recently went to support some of my former newspaper colleagues who were on strike over job losses. I asked them to wave their placards about so that I could get some frames to animate and went home to join the animation party. The result is at the top of the page.

I'm not going to give a detailed "how to" account here - there is already a perfectly good one that you can read by clicking this link. You'll also need to sign up at a site called Giphy to deliver your creations effectively on the social channels.

Personally, I don't anticipate making loads more of these animations. The image above is fun but that's about it - I don't think it tells the story any more effectively and, if anything, looks rather tacky - which was the problem with so many animations placed for the sake of following the trend back in the 1990s.

Blog home

You can see more by visiting my Flickr photo stream.