What's GIF: Explanation and how to use it
You might have seen "moving images" on the internet that is definitely not a photo but also doesn't look like a video. Well, they are called GIFs, but still, what is GIF? Today, we will briefly explain and show a couple of ways to use it on the internet.
GIFs are everywhere in today's internet culture, used for everything from expressing emotions to sharing memes. You might see many different GIFs on social media, with some of them getting the "legendary" badge used by millions of others.
What's GIF: Explanation
GIF is short for Graphics Interchange Format, and the simplest description is: GIFs are animated images. It is a file format for animated images that consist of a sequence of still images that are played back in fast succession. This creates the illusion of motion and can be used to create short animations or repetitive loops.
GIFs can also be used for static images, which often have a smaller file size than other image formats such as JPG or PNG. This makes them ideal for use on websites and social media where fast load times are important.
As mentioned in the beginning, they certainly don't look like photos as there is apparent motion in the frame, but they are different from videos. They don't have sound and mostly lack a fluent image. You could place GIFs somewhere in the middle of photos and videos. If you want to find a specific GIF on Google, you must look under the "Images" category and not "Videos."
Related: Learn how to create custom GIFs on your iPhone
How do they work?
Now that we have answered your "What's GIF?" question, it is time to move on and explain how they work. GIFs consist of a series of still images, called frames, played in rapid succession to create the illusion of motion. Each frame is stored as a separate image file in GIF, along with timing information that determines how long it should be displayed.
The animation loop is created by playing the frames one after the other, then returning to the beginning and starting over again. This creates a repeating animation that can continue indefinitely. GIFs use a lossless compression algorithm, which means that the image quality is preserved even when the file size is reduced. This also makes GIF files larger than regular photos in most cases.
What is GIF usually used for?
GIFs are used for different purposes, from expressing emotions to making fun of something on the internet. On social media, people use iconic movie scenes or funny images to communicate with each other. On the other hand, GIFs can also be used for educational or business purposes, like displaying graphics and logos.
What is an example of a GIF?
GIFs are used widely, especially on social media platforms and communication tools, and some of them are "legendary" and are known by almost all users. Even if you are not very active on social media, there is a strong possibility that you had seen Michael Jackson's GIF from the 1982 video for Thriller. MJ eating popcorn is often used when there is a heated debate.Advertisement
This is hilarious. Do you really think people do not know what GIF is?
Whoa, what is this, early 2000s?
No, I take that back, I’m pretty sure people knew about GIFs back then as well.
but.. brings nostalgy. In the past, I had an big archive of gifs, that I took from forums.
Onur, you have a misleading statement regarding file size made by the article: “[…] GIFs can also be used for static images, which often have a smaller file size than other image formats such as JPG or PNG. …”
Presumably you’ve never created a website nor converted a single GIF file to PNG-8 file. Otherwise without a doubt you would realise your statement is misleading. PNG-8 is nearly always smaller than GIF.
PNG has better compression than GIF, typically 5% to 25% (but often 40% or 50% better on tiny images).
Furthermore, GIF should be avoided in nearly all “real world” and web design situations. About the only valid reason to use GIF, is when you need its basic “animation” capability, as it intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a). For example, the featured GIF image above captioned: “MJ eating popcorn”. :-/
So GIF has another meaning then Great Internet Fun, than Get It First, than Girl Intimate Friend?
Full list at [https://www.abbreviations.com/GIF]
You learn every day (MAXI LOL). What an instructive article.
Onur, there is a misleading statement regarding file size made by the article: “[…] GIFs can also be used for static images, which often have a smaller file size than other image formats such as JPG or PNG. …”
Presumably you’ve never created a website nor converted a GIF file to PNG-8 file. Otherwise without a doubt you would realise your statement is misleading. PNG 8-bit is nearly always smaller than GIF.
PNG has better compression than GIF, typically 5% to 25% (but often 40% or 50% better on tiny images).
Furthermore, GIF should be avoided in nearly all “real world” web design situations. About the only valid reason to use GIF, is when you need its basic “animation” capability. GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a). For example, the featured GIF image above captioned: “MJ eating popcorn”. :-/
PS: Martin, I believe I tried to submit this post earlier (I think it was awaiting moderation as ID: [#comment-4562919]). Did it somehow get mistakenly get censored… or lost in transit?
Everything I wrote is honest and basically objective. My paragraph two means; do fact checking by actually converting several non-animated GIF files into PNG-8 first. Then compare the file size changes – PNG-8 output is typically smaller – that’s not a personal dig.
Given that the article is supposed to be a tutorial, it would have helped if the facts about GIF file size and usage were originally presented more accurately. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GIF#PNG
@The Dark Lady,
> “About the only valid reason to use GIF, is when you need its basic “animation” capability. GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a).”
PNG also supports animation : Quoting [https://ezgif.com/apng-maker],
“Animated PNG files work similarly to animated GIFs but can contain more colors, partial (alpha) transparency, and other features for much greater image quality.”
Personally I use APNG extensively in Firefox’s userChrome to animate toolbar buttons given a condition, i.e. rather than lowering opacity. Far better than animated GIFs.
I was already aware Tom, of APNG. Thanks for your comments about how you personally use it with regards to browser. :-)
My “#comment-4562919” must have just been delayed, due me being “untrustworthy”. ;-)
Let’s have another example of a PNG file size compared to a GIF file size. Today, I took a random screenshot (640 × 360 pixels) of a black-and-white music video “Heart is a Drum” at duration 1:56. Saved it as GIF, and then converted the GIF file to PNG-8.
GIF image file size: ~ [172,817 bytes] https://i.imgur.com/OG8mEmV.gif
PNG image file size: ~ [100,088 bytes] https://i.imgur.com/si3XxIw.png
No image editing was involved; the PNG-8 image, which you can see, is significantly lighter (around 42% smaller). It’s totally non-scientific, more just for fun… as there are plenty of PNG image test sites, anyway, etc.
@The Dark Lady, you seem quite well informed about image formats, which is why I was surprised by your comment stating that “the only valid reason to use GIF, is when you need its basic “animation” capability.”
About comments being delayed here, they always are when they include a link : better to include it within brackets.
Your comment above, #4562919, free of links, was nevertheless delayed? Odd. Maybe had you not included an email though I’m not sure this has anything to do with delayed comments.
So : PNG rather than GIF, animated included. Any valid scenario where GIF would be preferable?
Image for image, one of a spinning globe, animated PNG, 150 images of 4ms, 1,38 MB,
What I appreciate with above mentioned [https://ezgif.com/apng-maker] is that you may not only build but disassemble as well animated images. Not the only site of course but works nicely.
Have a nice (and animated!) week-end :=)
To link that SpinningGlobe APNG with my use of userChrome.css, i.e. my Firefox Homepage :
[https://img.justpaste.me/image/6828] (though the globe won’t spin on a plain PNG screenshot, of course).
I just love ’em animated images :=) (70 autumns soon and still marveled, lol!).
Tom, you are correct. I have good understanding of HTML structure, semantic code, web accessibility, and honest craftsmanship.
A valid scenario to use GIF would be a website – upload rules – where you aren’t allowed to upload *.png files (unsupported format types). I think that’s rarer nowadays and mainstream browser support is fairly good. I was more meaning; legacy, that’s about the only thing “animated GIF” has still got going for it – not that it’s preferable. :-)
I’m now going onto a random tangent: I will, analyse people’s comments, which I may or may not agree with, so I will be addressing someone’s argument or position. Therefore, you never see me making any “personal attacks” against people posting in the gHacks comments section.
If the word “Brave” of “Firefox” or another (insert Browser vendor name of choice) appears in an article. There are some individuals’ comments that come across like they are suffering from a ‘personality disorder’. Personal attacks galore aimed at the individual’s specific username… instead for focusing on the subject at hand. It’s like light the (blue) touch paper for them. :-/
If I had been using my actual name I’d have been more technical with my wording regarding the author’s lack of knowledge regarding images. Hopefully, they will have learnt something about GIF versus PNG file size and won’t make the same silly misleading statement again.
The source of the “Heart Is a Drum” video I was using for the screenshot:
I would have preferred that, the author was more forthright, and explained they weren’t familiar with image formats. They could have said something on the lines: They personally love using GIF for posting memes, but there are other image formats that can perform animation or serve different purposes, etc.
Correct, that post was delayed, and I didn’t see it until the midmorning of the next day. I’ve seen that happen with several of my morning or afternoon posts (UTC 0 time zone). 12-hours or more in a queue even though this site was busy and other people’s posts were appearing that were posting (at a similar time) or much later on.
Therefore, it will have been in some: Moderation queue. I don’t provide email addresses. I guess the delay is due to my name being “untrustworthy”. I seriously doubt there is any is any justifiable reason to completely censor any of my plain speaking posts. At worst, I’m giving some constructive criticism in straight talking manner, which might be misunderstood.
@The Dark Lady, in my view your comment having been delayed is of course not related to your comment’s content as readable above (#4562919) neither to your pseudonym. I’ve known Ghacks for over a decade and never noticed a “Moderation queue’, anyway never, in my case, when,
1- Name and email are provided
2- Links are written between brackets.
Here my comments appear immediately as well in the site’s ‘Comments RSS feeds’ [https://www.ghacks.net/comments/feed/]. The only explanation I conceive regarding your comment’s display delay is the absence of an email, though I have no certitude… or a simple site temporary issue.
About the way you understand dialogues, I totally agree, as well as most of us here (“regulars” anyway) if I refer to the wide majority of comments : the place is neither a devil’s haven nor a purist’s heaven, just a normal civilized area.
“I will, analyse people’s comments, which I may or may not agree with, so I will be addressing someone’s argument or position. Therefore, you never see me making any “personal attacks” against people posting in the gHacks comments section.”
Once in a while a friction or two, sometimes a true clash, but it doesn’t last. C’est la vie :=)
Hope to read you soon.
@The Dark Lady, I forgot to mention that user provided emails are not verified here, so what would be the pertinence? Given user email addresses are of course never displayed, providing one and always the same together with a same pseudonym become together some sort of credentials :=) But that’s my very one interpretation. Many visitors (or mysterious “regulars”) provide no Name nor perhaps an Email (“Anonymous” is their published name) : I have no idea if their comments are delayed. I do recall having once tested a VPN Firefox extension and commented here an article on that basis, with a new pseudonym and a different and fake Email, a polite comment and no url without brackets … and my comment had been delayed. I just don’t know what is exactly taken into consideration before a comment gets published.
Martin, this blog software is truly overzealous; it’s completely swallowed several of the words I wrote (post: #comment-4563208). Just because I used a Left-Pointing Angle Bracket (〈) it erroneously ate two sentences. I can guess why, but really it shouldn’t have needed to do that. It stupidly did that, all because I used a single (〈) character. It wasn’t a script. :-/
Let’s conduct a test: https://www.example.com/
If the above test line turns into an live or plain text: “Example” hyperlink” maybe gets “eaten” or perhaps even mangled then I will know something else. Place your bets.
Short-term memory: malfunction. For post [#comment-4563241] I meant write; Less-Than Sign “<” (U+003C), which usually gets referred to as a left “angle bracket” for syntax purposes.
Obviously I also used
U+003Cin my original [#comment-4563213] post, and it got eaten by the software.
That “crazy wizard thing” test I conjured (see above) worked and clearly outputted:
https://www.example.com/as plain text as I expected. :-)
Incorrect: “GIF is short for Graphics Interchange Format, and the simplest description is: GIFs are animated images.”
Better: “GIFs can also be used for static images, which often have a smaller file size than other image formats.”
Sort of the other way around: “In its simplest form, a GIF (pronounced “gif” or “jiff”) is just an image file. Like the JPEG or PNG file formats, the GIF format can be used to make still images. But the GIF format has a special feature—it can also be used to create animated images.”
So a GIF file is an image file; to make a GIF animated takes another step.
Is Wednesday before Tuesday?
Here’s a link to play around:
i use Gimp for creating moving gifs for personal “pleasure”, of very hot, women.. :))