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The GIF is dead long; live the GIFV


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Image-sharing website Imgur is updating the GIF for the 21st century, converting them to MP4 video and then displaying them as a standard .GIF (calling it a .GIFV) to make loops higher in quality but smaller in file size.

GIFs are so popular because of their immediacy, lack of buttons or Flash, ability to loop and their nostalgic naff-ness, but they're also overly large in file size, slow and limited to a colour palette dating back to the 80s.

"Let's get real, the .GIF format is outdated and is not really that great for the modern web anymore. " Imgur founder Alan Schaaf told The Verge.

"It was created in 1989, and it wasn't even created for the purpose of animation. What we're trying to do is keep that same experience almost intact but just make the technology around it much better."

In order to do this, all GIF files uploaded to Imgur will now automatically be converted to MP4 videos, compressed and displayed as a new format it is calling the .GIFV, which will be higher in quality, larger in display size and yet drastically smaller in file size.


"What we found in our testing is that we're able to reduce the size of these files by about 10 times," Schaaf added.

"Imgur provided us with a few examples — the standard GIF file displays much smaller, while the GIF-to-MP4 converted version is significantly larger, while the file itself is smaller."

The move comes after users started flocking to Gfycat, a site which has been converting GIFs to HTML5 video for some time.

The change is being rolled out today and should make it easier to upload GIFs on slower connections e.g on mobile.

"We're not done yet," Schaaf said. "You will see other cool GIF stuff come out of Imgur."


What Is GIFV?

GIFs as we all know are images played on loop. They are low quality, take time to load, and are the best way to express yourself on the internet. GIF is also a file format, and just like PNG and JPEG formats, the GIF format has its own specific purpose. GIFV is a new format that Imgur has developed. It is now using this format to bring you better GIFs that play more smoothly, are better quality, and a larger file size.

How Do I Convert A GIF File To A GIFV File

The short answer is that you don’t. You don’t need to. Life for anyone who wants to upload large HD GIFs to Imgur has improved drastically with no additional action needed on their part. You will continue to upload your GIFs the same way you always have and Imgur is going to take care of the rest. The service will now be converting all GIF files to GIFV files, as is evident from the share URLs you get once the file has been uploaded. The only downside is that ‘optimizing’ the GIF takes time. Sometimes, it takes quite long.

Why Do We Need GIFV?

You may no doubt have heard the phrase, ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. That is what the case is with GIFs. Our very powerful browsers that can play music and videos from our desktops are slow in playing a GIF file from our local drive. That means something is indeed broken and we’ve been working around it by reducing file size (thus compromising quality), creating smaller size files, or just hitting the next button because we can’t wait for the GIF to load. GIFV not only creates a smaller file but the resulting file plays more smoothly in better quality. The below image was a 44MB GIF file uploaded to Imgur.

What Is All This Talk About Video?

GIFV is said to be a video GIF. The file is converted to this new video format. It’s confusing at first but you need only convert a file to understand how it works. It’s a lot like converting a GIF to an MP4 except the GIFV format is something made especially for GIFs by Imgur. If you play it in Chrome, right-click the image and select ‘Show Controls’ to see the full screen, volume, and play/pause buttons as well as a seek bar. For anyone uploading an animated image to Imgur, a GIF is all you need.

A little thing we noticed is that when you open the GIFV file via the direct link, the browser first reads it as an MP4 file but the URL quickly changes to GIFV.


This isn’t just a great thing for people who create and share high quality GIFs, it’s for anyone who enjoys GIFs regardless of their size. The format does indeed reduce the size of the file but it also makes for a better playback experience so regardless how big or small your GIF is, it’s going to play much better now.


So cool! Gif makers like myself should be excited about this. This board doesnt seem to support it quite yet but hopefully soon

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