GIF, where’d you come from??

GIFs are everywhere – WHY?!

In short, GIF = Graphics Interchange Format. GIFs have become super popular in recent years and we’re not surprised. At Polite Social, we’ve been using the infamous GIF for over 5 years now – it’s one of our most popular services, the GIF Photo Booth. So what is it? Where did it come from? How are they used? Why oh why do people love them so much? Look no further, we’re about to give you all the answers!

What is a GIF Image?


GIF, where’d you come from??

A GIF is a bitmap image format that supports up to 8 bits per pixel, has a colour palette of 256 colours and can also be animated. Basically, they’re image files that are compressed to reduce transfer time.

Believe it or not, GIFs turned 30 this year – wild! Back in 1986 Steve Wilhitean, an employee of early online service Compuserve, was challenged to create a file that achieved two things: it had to work on all types of computers AND it had to display images quickly using a slow connection. Well, when you combine those two things, you land yourself a GIF… apparently. FUN FACT: In 2013 Steve told the NY Times that GIF should be pronounced with a soft ‘G’:

“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

We’ll just leave that with you for a moment.

These days, GIFs are most popular for creating loops of a series of images or a video. They’re even being considered a form of art with the Motion Photography Prize being awarded to artists who create the best art GIF. Click here to see the Washington Post’s article on the 2014 award.

A fun alternative to the traditional still photo, GIFs are becoming more and more popular as a form of branded content at consumer activations. Our GIF booths are open air so participants can move freely while capturing their #killershot

Boomerang GIFs work in a similar way to normal GIFs, except the series of captured images is continuously looped forward and backward. For example, a 5 frame Boomerang GIF loops frames: 1 2 3 4 5 4 3 2 1… and so on. The speed, length and design can all be customised, which is super cool!

Where possible, we  recommend that our clients opt for GIF functionality as they’re fun onsite and results show people love to share them. The constant posing required when taking a GIF always puts a smile on participants faces and creates such a spectacle onsite. Add props and you’ve created yourself a scene that passers by want to get in on! Once the GIF is captured, we’re able to send the content direct to participants via email / SMS where they can share to social media – and trust us the GIFs certainly add a bit of sass to the insta feeds.

Here at Polite Social, we love GIFs and the excitement and fun that they bring to an event. be sure to check out our gif photo booth page. We hope that after reading this, you understand them a little more and now love them too!

GIF, where’d you come from??



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