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So when can we start printing them in newspapers?
August 29, 2012 7:48 PM   Subscribe

This week, tumblr has become the birthplace of a new format of gif that offers a sense of 3-dimensionality. And the gifcrafters have really taken off... (MLTP - multi-link tumblr post)

Who to credit for this innovation? In many ways, we can thank tumblr's occasionally dysfunctional self. Due to the website's image size restrictions (previously 500 mb per image, now 1Mb), fans had previously split a larger gif into multiple images in order to skirt the limitations while still managing to upload a high-quality image. But the introduction of those white bars allowed some clever tumblr user to trick the eye, and once people caught on it's only gotten better.

Gifcrafters are bending the fourth wall and using restriction as a way to enhance their creations. It's all part of tumblr's continuing trend of revitalizing the gif format.

Similar amazing gifs previously on the blue: If We Don't, Remember Me, From Me To You


First post, please be kind.
posted by six-or-six-thirty (57 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Animated gifs will always be magic to me, but I don't find the effect of these particularly striking.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:50 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't this just a time for space wiggle? Like from oh...2002?
posted by Chekhovian at 7:55 PM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am gladdened to know of this development.
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:57 PM on August 29, 2012


I suspect the effect would be more striking if I were familiar with the tumblr split gif convention.
posted by brundlefly at 7:57 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


But can it render Monster Chiller Horror Theater?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:58 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought it was going to be more like these animated gifs that mimic stereoscopic thingamabobs. These are clever in a different way.

On preview: Chekhovian, seriously!? Damn.
posted by looli at 7:59 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't this just a time for space wiggle? Like from oh...2002?

No, it specifically takes advantage of how ubiquitous the three-gifs-with-bars-in-between post format has become on tumblr. Like brundlefly said, the full effect kind of depends on having seen these before.
posted by vorfeed at 8:01 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The doctor weighs in.
posted by maxwelton at 8:06 PM on August 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


One of the gawker links mentions cinemagraphs, which have been mentioned here a few times. If you're into that sort of thing, the cinemagraph subreddit has some really neat ones (as well as links to guides on how to make your own).
posted by spiderskull at 8:09 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I warmly await Benedict Cumberbatch crashing through my forth wall.
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 PM on August 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was thinking, "Huh, that really lays bare the comic panel gimmick of basically doing the same thing."

I didn't know about the three panel gif thing.
posted by cmoj at 8:27 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't this just a time for space wiggle? Like from oh...2002?

Wow. Is this the basis for the similar creepy effect in this St. Vincent video?

I warmly await Benedict Cumberbatch crashing through my forth wall.

Sounds like you might get Chuck Moore instead.
posted by weston at 8:43 PM on August 29, 2012



Isn't this just a time for space wiggle? Like from oh...2002?


Neat- Slurpie discs! I hope I get Canseco!
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:47 PM on August 29, 2012


This is a good post.
posted by jessamyn at 8:48 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I look at these silent moving pictures, I see the comic book reimagined.
posted by guiseroom at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, a neat and well-constructed post. I especially appreciate it when neat internet things that make me feel old are explained early and thoroughly enough that I understand them so I can feel it least a little plugged in.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:09 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


(That wasn't sarcasm; I genuinely appreciate it.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:12 PM on August 29, 2012


Yes, sorry for those who are underwhelmed, it is probably more impressive for those who aren't expecting the walls to be broken.

I actually forgot one of my favorite ones that really brings the 'breaking the 4th wall' thing out. Ooopssigh. I like how it's sort of put an entirely different narrative on the clip from the movie.

And I think it's really fitting that a lot of the material being used is for comic book movies, like guiseroom sort of hinted at above.

So yeah, I'm a sucker for gifs in general but when you add in how they're affected by the constraints of the medium used (tumblr) in really creative and interesting ways (and then those constraints change too resulting in awesome surprises omfg!) I'm pretty much a goner. Kind of threw me back to a couple of classes I took in college where we discussed the ability to find creativity within the traditional structures of Chinese art and etc. etc.

I have made one. It turned out pretty well.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:37 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I look at these silent moving pictures, I see the comic book reimagined.

Indeed, especially if you loaded it as a large sheet of static images, and as you moved the mouse (or your finger) over specific panels, the images zoomed in and animated.
posted by davejay at 9:38 PM on August 29, 2012


I've never seen a 3-panel-split gif before, but the effect totally 'worked' on me. It's surprising how much depth it adds, so much so that I was trying to figure out what else was going on in the image to make the illusion work that well.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is really cool, especially for the comic book homage aspect. I'm not a fan of the jitter gif, which though effective, is too meth-overdose/epilepsy-simulator for my taste.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 9:43 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I actually find these remarkably effective, what a neat technique.

I have to say, I am greatly enjoying this renewed age of the animated gif. It really brings alive the idea of moving pictures, but in a sense the keeps them more like pictures, distinct from movies (which are also great.)

Thanks for this post!
posted by !Jim at 10:10 PM on August 29, 2012


0xFCAF writes "I've never seen a 3-panel-split gif before, but the effect totally 'worked' on me. "

Ditto. It worked so well It took me quite a bit of watching to figure out how it worked.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 PM on August 29, 2012


8/29/12: Day of the Dithering
posted by jason_steakums at 10:51 PM on August 29, 2012


I have to say, I am greatly enjoying this renewed age of the animated gif.

I was just thinking about this the other day -- we are in a kind of golden age of the animated gif, and it's really taken off in the last year or two. If you spend any time on sites like MLKSHK or ffffound (or Tumblr or any number of imageloving places), it is just mindblowing some of the stuff that is being made -- both from video captures like IWDRM and from artists making mindblowing abstract stuff.

I love it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, it is apparently mindblowing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a big fan of whoever it is making these Studio Ghibli gifs.
posted by fight or flight at 12:53 AM on August 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Like brundlefly said, the full effect kind of depends on having seen these before.

Not really. It's taking advantage of gestalt figure-ground concepts. The white bars are "above" the background, because they divide the picture in threes. The "3d" part is "above" the white bars, because the white bars do not divide the foreground image. Therefore, you perceive a 3d effect, since the figures are sort of "stacked", perceptually.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found this awesome. I'm like gifs, but its kind of mandatory since I'm a denizen of so many fandoms. I've made the split large format gifs, and let me tell you: they're a pain in the ass. I love the ones where its not just one scene, but maybe two or more being played out at the same time. I wish I had an example, but tumblr isn't really the best site for searching.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:23 AM on August 30, 2012


I wonder if there's a way to teach computers to do this. I'm sure it would require human guidance, but between edge/motion detection and various other heuristics, I bet there's some really clever way to automate it for full-length video.
posted by cthuljew at 1:40 AM on August 30, 2012


An example of some of those snazzy abstract gifs I was talking about.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has there been a new video-to-animated-gifs tool ? I've failed to locate the tool that has been powering the rebirth of animated gifs.
posted by Baud at 3:04 AM on August 30, 2012


This was the first one I saw and still one of my favorites.
posted by emmling at 3:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Has there been a new video-to-animated-gifs tool ? I've failed to locate the tool that has been powering the rebirth of animated gifs.

Do you just mean how they're made? Most everyone (myself included) uses Photoshop CS5 (32 bit), and I'm not aware of any other way to make gifs that you can edit so heavily (such as the '3d' gifs).

Despite tumblr being pretty search-and-reader-unfriendly there are a lot of decent tutorials there. There's even one on how to make the 3d gif... which I should have maybe looked at before making my own, but once you've started making gifs it's pretty easy to figure out.

Also, thanks to you guys, I've found out that Studio Ghibili appears to be the where the whole thing started.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:42 AM on August 30, 2012


I'm a big fan of whoever it is making these Studio Ghibli gifs.

Google reveals it to be user oh-totoro, who apparently started the whole trend. In one of their other response they note the effect of the surprise factor and how it doesn't really work when the subject of the gif starts out between the frames. I don't think the surprise factor is necessary, personally (the depth effect is cool enough on its own), but I do think starting the subject behind the frame looks clunky.

I use Tumblr a lot but too many gifs give me headaches, so I guess it's not such a surprise that I've managed to miss out on this trend until now -- I try not to follow people who are constantly posting giant gif sets. (Also, when everybody on your dash is posting those it takes forever and a day to load.) On the other hand, I've seen some very neat photosets that play with the tumblr image layout: like so (source).
posted by bettafish at 3:45 AM on August 30, 2012


Oh, and The Whelk? Here you go.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:50 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've completed miss this. Thanks! And how great isn't it that GIF is still going strong after all these years when the audio/video market has seen so many formats come and go.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:05 AM on August 30, 2012


Not getting the hate here. This is a clever, effective technique.
posted by DU at 4:14 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


These don't look the least bit 3D to me. Is this something I'd have to read tons of comic books to see?
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:15 AM on August 30, 2012


While an interesting technique we will doubtlessly be subjected to in many online advertisements, I think the .gif has already achieved it's highwater mark as an artform here.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find it annoying that they don't flow... all of them seem to abruptly stop and restart again. The best of the minimal gif craze all seem fluid and its hard to tell where they start and stop. I also wonder why they all stick so tenaciously to the 3 or 6 panel visible rectangles.
posted by crunchland at 4:45 AM on August 30, 2012


six-or-six-thirty, thank you.

now bring me chris evans
posted by The Whelk at 6:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love these. Being a regular tumblr user, I encountered one of these and was confused for a moment. Then I realized it was one big .gif made to look like three.

It makes me want to make some.
posted by royalsong at 6:18 AM on August 30, 2012


These are awesome. I love when a simple visual concept has this much effect.

There have to be Pinkie Pie frame-jumping gifs somewhere, right? Breaking the fourth wall is kind of her thing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:46 AM on August 30, 2012


I get what's going on here intellectually, but it doesn't really work for me. I wonder if there's something neurological or cognitive to explain why some folks find it striking and other don't.
posted by that's candlepin at 7:58 AM on August 30, 2012


IHNJH, IJLS "gifcrafter"
posted by kenko at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2012


Ok, now does it still work if you make the giant white bars a bit less visable? What if you use four thinner bars? I want to see some experimentation.

Also; Can we replace gif yet? What happened to APNG? I know the official animated PNG extension died for being too complex to implement, but I thought APNG had some momentum.
posted by Canageek at 8:33 AM on August 30, 2012


My favourite so far is this pokemon one.
posted by elizardbits at 9:40 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


It is interesting how the effect is different for different people. I don’t see it as 3D at all and had to come back and read some of the comments here to understand why it was supposed to look 3D. It just looks like a wide .gif

I don’t understand the growth of animated gifs lately though. I didn’t like them in the 90’s.
posted by bongo_x at 10:16 AM on August 30, 2012


Here's one with thick spaces that I think still works very well... I think the stop-motion-ish nature of how these guys 'move' is really great for this format actually. And it's just well done.

Contrast with thinner bars, with an entirely different kind of action in the sequence. (disclaimer: this one is mine... hope that's okay)

The three-picture set has probably been the most common on tumblr for a long while now, which is likely why most of these gifs are showing up in this format rather than, say, with 1 bar in the middle. And also, there has to be some kind of balance between not taking up too much space with the bars (too big!) and having enough bar space so that the motion across them can be easily noticed (too small!). So far as I'm aware though there hasn't been that much experimentation with that sort of thing yet.

As for getting a smooth loop in a gif, it's very hard to do this without the right kind of starting material. Most fight scenes, for example, don't have two places in the the scene where each character ends up in the same approximate pose and don't even get me started on dynamic camera shots--which are awesome in the cinema but hellish for trying to make smooth gifs. Fight scenes in general are are usually too dynamic for good looping, and it seems like the more dynamic scenes are preferred for this '3d/4th wall' effect.

The absolute best place to go is cartoons if you want a smooth loop (especially older ones). The pokemon one is great because it's so close.

Anyway, there's a lot of balance with making a good gif, even down to quality vs. filesize, length of frame delay, etc etc. That's not so much an issue with the minimalist gifs as linked above. So yeah. Everything requires something different. gifs are pretty cool.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:58 AM on August 30, 2012


This Scar from The Lion King is the first one I saw. Loved it & I still do.
posted by Fence at 11:29 AM on August 30, 2012


I soo desperately want to find a digital picture frame that supports animated gifs...
posted by edman at 11:55 AM on August 30, 2012


This Scar from The Lion King is the first one I saw. Loved it & I still do.

I'm seeing Charizard... Did you maybe mean this Scar gifset?
posted by vaghjar at 1:28 PM on August 30, 2012


Saw some cool new-generation "cinematograph" gifs this week illustrating this piece in the online version of the NYT arts section. It's been asked here on the green before, but are there any digital picture frames/keychains that support the display of animated gifs?
posted by squalor at 3:11 PM on August 30, 2012


Missed edman's same question 2 up from mine - is there maybe an Instructables-like post out there that would help us hack together a portable display? Also - 4chan now has a worksafe gif board! All of the motion, none of the lubricity.
posted by squalor at 3:17 PM on August 30, 2012


That's so Raven. And this one, and the first one I saw.
posted by cashman at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2012


heh.
posted by cashman at 5:33 PM on September 7, 2012


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