Hatched as means to send video-like content over extremely limited bandwidth of the late 1908s internet, the Animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) has evolved from tiny pixelated cartoonish media to something evocative as art plus virally animated memes in social media.

After last week’s deep dive into net art, we return to the high art world of… GIFs.

Believe it or not at one time this was cutting edge viral:

A “vintage” GIF, Dancing Baby found on giphy. It’s so cute, and tiny

Like memes we studied previously, we likely do not have to explain or describe what an Animated GIF is.

Beyonce, bossy? Say it isn’t so. Found on giphy

Yet this familiar form that is part of the lingua of social media represents only one potential of this media. We will examine Animated GIFs more closely as a means help explain processes, speed up/slow down time, bring focus to a critical scene/character in a movie, and present beautiful art that can be something in the space between a photograph and video.

Cinemagraphs as artful images somewhere between photographs and video (see story and full sized version)

Some more background reading on Animated GIFS:

Before we jump into making animated GIFs, we will spend time “reading” them, which is fundamentally important to being able to communicate with them.

The Opener

How many different forms of animation do you see in this excerpt of twohundredfiftysixcolors a 97 film made of thousands of animated GIFs (see the full version too)

Are these the types you usually see on giphy, tumblr, et al?

We can also page through The Digital Materiality of GIFs to sample a wider variety of style and creativity.

Exploring GIFs

open the book!

Jaw Dropping GIF Tweet-A-Thon

Now it is your turn to find some artistic or explanatory GIFs that do more than just aim for the laughs. That means none from giphy 😉 and we love giphy.

Explore the following collections to find GIFs that make you go OMG; find at least three to tweet out to the world (with the #netnarr tag) and include, beside the link, the reason why you think it is jaw dropping.

GIF Makes

Enough talk, let’s make GIFs. For this first series of NetNarr Makes (we will do more next week), we will use the giphy GIF Maker Tool where we can easily make new GIFs from YouTube content.

While not necessary or required, you might want to create your own account on giphy site. If you do so, then you get to have your own awesome gallery of everything you created there (well I think mine is awesome).


Many GIFs From One [Western] Video

In our first Make, we will all use the same original video clip, a scene from a 1958 Western film (no knowledge of the original movie is required), but each person gets to choose a key scene (just a few seconds) to “gifify”. It’s interesting to see which ones people pick.

You will create two GIFs from the same scene, one with overlay text and one without. What can you suggest in a GIF without any text?

This Make is opportunity to learn how to make an animated GIF from any YouTube video using the Giphy Gifmaker. As an experiment it’s interesting to see what portion of the same clip people will isolate from the source video. Do this Make


This GIFfed Digital Life

For the second Make, you get to pick the source material, but you are asked to create a GIF that makes commentary or highlights the course theme of This Digital Life- -something that represents how digital technology is changing the way we interact, how we are tracked and maybe watched, how technology is mediating our lives. Again, you are to create two GIFs, one with a caption, and one without.

After you have practiced the GIF making process on a clip of a western movie you like do not care about, now you get to make a similar set using a YouTube clip you select. But the topic for this one has to make a statement or represent metaphorically the NetNarr course theme of This Digital Life. Do this Make


Here is Your Week 6 GIFChecklist

These tips may help you get those GIFs moving in your blog.

Check it off, Simpsons!

Week 6 Checklist

Featured Image: Edited remix made for animated GIF based on the Reading is Fundamental program. I pretty much am doing an illegal remix in the name of teaching. The logo is not the current one used by RIF. Sorry, but it fit so well.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine
Alan Levine feels weird writing about himself in the third person. A 1990s pioneer on the web and early proponent of blogging, he shares his ideas at CogDogBlog.com. His interests include web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), mocking MOOCs, daily photography, bending WordPress, and randomly dipping into the infinite river of the internet.


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