Celebrating The GIF

What's a GIF? It's a type of digital image format that has been around since 1987 - a long time in "computer years". The original specification was limited to 256 colors, but it has a trick up it's sleeve - you can create a "single" GIF image which actually contains several images that can be shown sequentially - like one of those cartoon flip books most of us did in school during boring classes. So the GIF's party piece is that it can present (usually small) animated images:

More recently, a more "grown up" version of the animated image is a "Cinemagraph", which is essentially a still photo but with a part that is animated, usually in a subtle way - such as someone turning a page on a book, or a girl's hair blowing gently in the wind. It reminds me of the "magical" photos in the Harry Potter movies. Some examples here.

And here is a cute stop-motion tribute to the GIF:

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