What Imgur's GIFV format is all about

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2014
Music and Video

When the public started to use the Internet for the first time, Gif files became instantly popular as a means to display media contents on private homepages and community websites.

Back then, you had not many options when it came to these kind of things. There was no HTML5 for instance and services such as Facebook or Twitter were not there either.

These private homepages vanished over time and the use of animated images on personal homepages dropped significantly and it looked for a moment as if the Gif format was done as well.

Funny cat gifs and the like came along however and saved the format. Gif was an entertainment format now, that thrived on specifically created websites and forums.

There were reasons for that. Browsers played gifs out of the box and while video sites such as YouTube or Dailymotion offered to embed video code into sites, it was not always possible to do so due to limitations.

The popular image hosting website Imgur announced yesterday that it will handle GIF uploads in a different way from now on.

Project GIFV is in essence something that sites such as Gfycat have been offering for some time: the automatic conversion of animated gif files to mp4 video files.

What this means is the following:

Gif files that users upload to the Imgur website are automatically converted into the background to mp4 files. They get the gifv extension but they are essentially mp4 files.

These files play automatically in any modern browser just like gif files do.  The main advantage of the method over gif files is that the file size of the animation is lower.

It is not uncommon that a 50 Megabyte gif file converts into a 4 or 5 Megabyte mp4 file instead.

Another advantage is that controls are now available. When you right-click the converted video, you will get pause and stop options among other things which gifs never offered.

If you get annoyed by gifs that play over and over again on your computer you have the means now to stop that playback whenever you want.

There are downsides to this though. First of all, Imgur seems to only convert gifs of a certain size (10 MB plus) to Gifv. I tried files in the 1-3 Megabyte range and all displayed as gifs after the upload and not as gifv or mp4.

Mobile users are complaining about the feature as well. Since mp4 files are delivered, watching them stops audio playback on Android devices for instance currently. Imgur promises that a fix will be available soon for that.

For now, it is an option for users who have a gif source file which they want to make available online. Mp4 or another format may replace gif files eventually, especially on devices that are capable of recording these video formats natively as it does not make sense to record the video on mp4, convert it to gif before it gets uploaded to a site like Imgur and converted back to mp4.

Now You: Do you prefer gif or mp4 or something else entirely?

What Imgur's GIFV format is all about
Article Name
What Imgur's GIFV format is all about
The popular image hosting site Imgur launched the new format gifv yesterday. It will convert animated gifs automatically to the format. Find out why it is doing that.

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  1. fuckphones said on December 5, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    Why not just serve all files losslessly? I don’t want comprimise. I want all file types widely available and streamlined. Its 2020, not 2000. If I search :gif its because I wanted gif files not mp4/webm. I like them self animating in my gallery so I can easily go through them and I like them animating in dms and I like to play music at the same time. If you can’t do those things with a file type, you can’t replace gif with it.

  2. Iamdisapoint said on December 19, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    And I don’t see shit on a tablet. Nice job, breaking the internet all over again.

  3. Bill said on October 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    There’s a F/F addon that restores the esc key’s ability to stop all gifs on a page from loading or looping. The “x” in the address bar will do the same.

  4. dIDDLY said on October 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    It’s an awful change. The majority of users have problems with Gifs not loading. Imgur shouldn’t have rolled it out yet as it’s clearly not ready.

  5. steve said on October 16, 2014 at 1:49 am

    What’s the real story here? Imgur have decided to convert massive animated GIFs (offered by the gif89a spec) into MP4 in order to save space. That’s all the story is. Why they’ve decided to call it GIFV I have no idea, it’s purely a marketing exercise.

    There is no such format as GIFV, they have not changed or added to the GIF spec (they couldn’t), they’ve not done anything new or exciting or different at all, indeed their demos even have .mp4 extensions. The only news in this article is in this post. Imgur are annoyed at the amount of space animated GIFs take up and want to reduce it, under the cover of a new format and “GIFV will now work on social media!!”.

    I don’t blame them for it of course, but I do blame them for trying to hide the reasoning, and giving an existing technology a new name. GIFV indeed, it’s almost embarrassing to read.

  6. Dwight Stegall said on October 12, 2014 at 9:35 am

    When I got on in 1996 any image even little ones on a page was bad news. I used to disable them. I only had 8mb of RAM on my Windows 95 desktop with a 14.4kbps modem. A page with a small image would take 20-40 minutes to load. I used to mow the lawn and come back to find the page still loading. Even with all the problems back then I still miss it. Everything was new then and tutorials almost didn’t exist unless you paid for them.

    1. XenoSilvano said on October 13, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      lol, the good ol’ days, I grin with a slight sense of embarrassment because I feel a fond reminiscence at how humble the internet and computers were back then (which is usually a sign that you are starting to get old), things back then are a complete far cry from how things are today, it is amazing how much has changed in nearly 20 years.

      lol, one of my reminiscences is how long images would take to load(!) they would composite slowly from the top of the screen to the bottom and I had a 56kbps line, which was like the broadband of the day.

      lol, I also remember that I stood-up a girl that I liked at the time just so that I could continue using the net(!) and talk to random people in chatrooms, asking for their A/S/L.

      Using the internet back then for the first time was so much fun.

      It is nice to perceive that the transformation the internet and computers have taken in evolving into what it is today has traits that can be traced back to their humble origins.

  7. Jan said on October 11, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Animated PNG is not bad too. Non standard but perfectly working otherwise, and no interference with any other video playback.
    Its main weakness is that IE & Chrome do not support it… (in which case it still provide a static image)

    1. anon said on October 12, 2014 at 6:58 am

      Its main weakness is that it was not designed for video content (more than one frame) so it has absolutely no technique to better store those frames like codec specially designed for video like h.264/AVC or even lossless codec like HuffYuv.

      In the first place the main point of this new “format” is to better save bandwidth so APNG totally goes against it because it’s lossless.

  8. shortkey said on October 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    What I do not understand is why the duck didn’t they get on the WEBM ship. Instead, they had to make themselves feel like special snowflakes for creating a brand new file format, that actually isn’t new.

  9. nonqu said on October 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    What about endless loops? https://i.imgur.com/7Kfo5Vh.gif Is there some flag that lets you turn repeat mode in the player or do they ignore this matter completely?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      While I’m not 100% certain, the videos that I tried ran all in a loop.

  10. anon said on October 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Ironically lots those gifs were once video encoded file too so you’re experiencing dual reencode further degrading image quality.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      This will be a thing of the past though once this new method becomes the norm.

  11. fokka said on October 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    gfycat is a godsend, i love seeing other image hosting services to move to mp4 (or similar) as well. gif is an ancient, clunky and inefficient format, it’s about time we find a more modern solution for this need.

  12. anohana said on October 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm


  13. Albus said on October 11, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I’d prefer an open alternative like .mkv

    1. Steve said on February 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      GifV is really horse shite. It’s not a legitimate format in the eyes of any software readily available so once your junk is in gifv format it’s practically a one-way conversion because nothing recognizes it. Utterly worthless in my opinion; if they want it in mp4 format just freakin’ convert it to an mp4 and call it a day. Any file format that can’t be popped into a popular editing suite is 100% worthless to me.

      1. Rob said on May 16, 2017 at 9:26 pm

        STEVE is Spot-on :: GifV = shit …. another simple reason : If i post it to a freinds Fbook wall, it will not show—nor will it play; it’s like a joke who’s punchline is delayed thus ruining the entire fun of it–whereas simple gif files will typically play /show up immediately *easily* —in this case my friend will only see a link w/out any image—so he’ll ignore it thinking perhaps “oh it’s some long video, i’ll watch later when i have time” yet i just wanted to post a short “2 second gif ” that would simply pop up—or **at least** show a still image to catch my friend’s attention, it’s like posting a joke—but the punch line is delayed /stopped thus ruining the fun of it all, THANX alot to the A$$hats @Imgur who no doubt do this to force everyone to GO to THEIR page thus make money for them, yeah, greedyA$$hats.

  14. BKV said on October 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

    “If you get annoyed by gifs that play over and over again on your computer you have the means now to stop that playback whenever you want.”

    In the past, we could stop gifs from looping by pressing the Escape key, and then right clicking it and reloading the image to start it again without having to reload the page.

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