GIFestivus 2012: Is the Learning Fun Over?

Wow! Has GIFestivus2012 been a blast, or what?

As I write this (originally dated January 18, 2013, but only published July 8th, 2013), I have something on the order of 14 posts on de•tri•tis that are tagged with GIFestivus2012 and couple of those have several GIFs on them, putting me at about 20 completed and posted GIFS. (As I scan through my Animated GIFs work folder, I see another 12 11 10-odd GIF endeavours in various stages of completion (3 or 4 of them are multiple GIF projects), and I must be sure to include two other projects that have been waiting on some improved skillz for quite some time — my summer 2012 Bladerunner GIFs, and my secret-project my ds106 t-shirt has arrived GIF.* Their completion is now assured. (AddedJuly 2013:  well, maybe not as quickly as I had thought when I first drafted but didn’t post this in January 2013)

Much of my learning has come through brute force experimentation within Photoshop, with a few instances when it became clear I had a specific question that needed clarification via some kind of YouTube tutorial. Google and YouTube are nothing short of marvellous at helping answer “how to” questions these days, once you understand your question well enough to ask it properly. I found that frequently a full sentence question in the safari/google search revealed the same question — previously asked — and already answered.

The two big questions that I really needed to dig into were:

  • the relationship between the layers and the frames (that took quite a while to sort out by playing around)
  • how to make layer masks (I’d watched Jim’s GIMP tutorial, but couldn’t find the right commands in Photoshop. Eventually, I located them with the help of a video — and the process was virtually identical to Jim’s.)

Many, but not all, of my GIFs have started as clips from video. The tutorial about MPEG StreamClip and Photoshop was really helpful with that.  Some of my GIFS have far too many frames or too much overall movement to fit into the  Cinemagraph/Cinematic GIF category. However, in general, I’ve been pleased with what I’ve learned along the way, and the resulting products.

  • The other “big thing” that I’ve been working on is developing an eye for seeing things that are truly GIF-able.

This aspect of GIFestivus2012 has been a wonderful learning experience. And it has been that — experience. I very much enjoy the “AHA” feeling that comes now when I suddenly see something and say — that needs to be a GIF!  Diane Bedard’s (@Windsori) Feral Cat sequence last week was such an example. It was a lot of work to accomplish (lots of good learning in a difficult animated GIF), but very rewarding. (In the end, I really had to cheat on the last frame. Can you tell?) 

In terms of “selecting” things to GIF, that was informed in a big way by seeing the kinds of wonderful GIFs folks in the ds106 community have been doing over the past two years. When I think back to the original incarnation of ds106 as an Open Online Course (an OOC, how’s that? Jim? Alan? ), I remember the pre-christmas excitement that I observed as folks started making animated GIFs, even before the official start of the class. There was a kind of manic energy there. That, coupled with the birth of ds106radio early in the course, are two significant formative memories from my initial involvement, limited in participation, but informed by observation when I had time.  The other key source of motivation was the wonderful collection of cinematic GIFS on IWDRM: If We Don’t, Remember Me

As for my question in the title — Is the Learning Fun Over?  — my answer, a resounding NOT YET!!

  •  In Part II, I’m reflecting on key variables I’ve come to better understand that influence the quality of an animated GIF
  • In Part III, I’m going to tell my story of the evolution of techniques I’ve learned that help me to minimize the file size.

As for your GIFestivus/GIFest/GIFmas — Are there “big questions” or “big learnings” that you’ve come away with over the past few weeks?

(Again, this post was originally drafted a couple weeks after the unofficial “end” of the December 2012 GIFfest / GIFestivus / 12 Days of GIFestivus, but has languished, unpublished, for close to six months. I’m posting it now — and calling out myself to write Part II and Part III in response to some recent questions about making animated GIFs. Although I’ve stopped tagging my GIFs with GIFestivus2012, I have not (by a long shot) stopped making the durn things. I may post a Part IV before doing II and III, as I already have a post underway, about this affliction I have developed, called GIF-Eye-Tis. Perhaps you, too, have become afflicted?)