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Animated GIFs are back?

What is it about the repetitive motion that captivates us? We, as humans, seem to enjoy a continuous rhythm in music, a monotonous movement of the rocking chair, a captivating frame progression of an animated GIF.


What? Animated GIF?? Are you talking about those cartoons of a smiley face winking0023that winks, or a color-shifting acid mushroom, or a cat with a machine gun?cat


Most, by default, will react negatively to these “pioneers of web animation”. It seems like they’ve been around to annoy us ever since pre-AOL times. That is correct – they are very “oh so 90’s”, and they are back.


Animated GIFs have been on the Web since it’s beginning. They were fairly easy to make and they brought some motion to the “prehistoric” static web pages. They represented our mood (smileys), creativity (cartoon GIFs), thoughts (photo GIFs), secret thoughts (porno-GIFs), and humor (weird guy dancing). Those 3-to-30 frame animations, at times, helped us express ourselves on the Web better than words did. They brightened our browsing experience and never failed to annoy us.



Animated GIFs got pushed away with the arrival of FLASH, online video and JavaScript-driven motion content. Although, there has been an interesting GIF revival lately. Some designers out there have been secretly practicing their guilty pleasures – resurrecting the animated GIFs. Carefully crafted GIFs have started to pop up all over the Web. The ones that deserve attention are actually fun, not so annoying, and even beautiful! Common thread in most of them – they are nostalgic. It isn’t just the content that makes them nostalgic – it’s the actual idea of an animated GIF, it’s historical significance to the Web. It’s like looking at some old artifact that looks strange, but you can’t look away.


home-alone_a_GIFSoup.comWith FLASH animation being actively pushed away from the Web, there isn’t much surprise that the designers are researching other options. The “old school” GIF just happens to be one of the alternatives. My best wishes to the GIF to long live. I just want them to be crafted and placed responsibly – it does get annoying to see something like an animation loop of Macaulay Culkin.



By Max Kunakhovich, Web Designer