February 23, 2024

What Are GIFs?

If you’ve been keeping up with social media, chances are you’ve seen gifs on Tumblr, Buzzfeed or Reddit. And you may have even wondered what they are. GIFs, pronounced “jif” (like the animal) are short movies that move like animation, and are commonly used on websites and in presentations. They’re popular because they grab attention and help to convey the message or story quickly. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is truer than ever before in our instant-gratification, short attention span culture.

Originally, GIFs supported up to 256 different colors because they were created when 8-bit systems were common (that is, they could only display 256 colors). A compression algorithm, known as LZW, was used to keep the file size to a minimum.

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