Digital Studies 101

A common resource for Digital Studies at UMW.

Art of the Animated GIF


The animated GIF is a form of digital image that is almost 30 years old, but recent years have seen its resurgence through popular use in social content sites like Tumblr and Reddit. In this module, students research the history of the animated GIF and learn how to produce their own.


  • learn about the design and history of the GIF format
  • learn about the technical specifications of a GIF file
  • explore cultural practices around GIFs and their uses in different communities
  • produce and share some animated GIFs

Resources and Bibliography

Suggested Tasks

1. Explore and discuss the resources and reading material

  • Who made the GIF format and why?
  • What is the current legal status of the GIF patent and how has that changed over the years?
  • Where did the very similar PNG image format come from and why?
  • Why are GIFs so popular again?
  • How are GIFs used on Tumblr, and what are the constraints there?
  • Are GIFs used differently on Tumblr vs, say, Twitter?
  • Which segments of the population are familiar with gifs? Is there a generation gap?

2. Learn about making animated GIFs

  • What are the best tools for making GIFs?
  • What constraints are imposed on GIFs uploaded to various sites (Tumblr? Imgur? others?)

3. Learn how to make your own animated GIFs

  • Make a simple, 12-frame animation
  • Make an animated GIF from a video clip
  • Make a perfectly-looping animated GIF
  • Make a cinemagraph-style animated GIF
  • Create a GIF for the ITCC media wall
  • Make a gif “meme”.
  • Make a GIF that means something

Slack Channel: animated-gifs

Post navigation