A Short History of the Animated GIF

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

PBS's Off Book web series investigates the evolution of the Internet's favorite meme-making medium, the Graphics Interchange Format, introduced by CompuServe in 1987. The video interviews GIF experts including Patrick Davison of MemeFactory, and TopherChris of Tumblr, who duke it out over the proper pronunciation of "GIF" at the end of the video. The documentary was produced for PBS by the production studio Kornhaber Brown


A fashion editorial GIF by Cinemagraphs

On their site, Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck of Cinemagraphs, who are also featured in the video, describe their effort to push the format into the world of high fashion:

Starting in-camera, the artists take a traditional photograph and combine a living moment into the image through the isolated animation of multiple frames. To quote supermodel Coco Rocha "it's more than a photo but not quite a video."

Beck and Burg named the process "Cinemagraphs" for their cinematic quality while maintaining at its soul the principles of traditional photography. Launched virally through social media platforms Twitter and Tumblr, both the style of imagery and terminology has become a class of its own. The creative duo are looking forward to exploring future display technologies for gallery settings as well as pushing this new art form and communication process as the best way to capture a moment in time or create a true living portrait in our digital age while embracing our need to communicate visually and share instantly.

For more videos from PBS Off Book, visit the YouTube channel

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/a-short-history-of-the-animated-gif/254142/