GIF of the Day: May Waver’s Content Aware Series

by Corinna Kirsch on February 3, 2015 · 11 comments GIF of the Day

content awareDo you always like the GIFs you post?

I’ve been asked this question several times. Sometimes I like them. Or I love them. Or I don’t understand them at all. For the latter, sometimes it’s just good to gauge the state of the GIF-making world and see what’s out there.

There’s just a handful of GIFs in Body Anxiety, a new online exhibition organized by Jen Chan and Leah Schrager; all of them by May Waver. (We’ll have a review of that exhibition soon—there’s over 20 artists in the show, so there’s a lot of room to cover.)

Right now, I’m on the fence about this GIF. I’m failing to see a critique, or anxiety, in it. The pose mirrors Playboy; it doesn’t disrupt the status quo. That’s an incredibly short take; I’ll go in-depth when we review the show in full. I could change my mind.

GIF credit: May Waver, “Content Aware 2,” 2014

{ 11 comments }

pilgrim mayhem February 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I have noticed over the past 4 or so years since the invention of GIFs that somewhere around 93% of the featured GIFs on this site have a framerate of > 0.1/s per frame. Now.. it is no coincidence that sites like tumblr, which restrict maximum sizes of GIFs, force their users to do SOMETHING to elongate the duration of a GIF (without sacrificing that high-res crisp HD 256 color) …. and that something seems to be making GIFs with framerates having a sweet spot around 0.1-0.15/spf.

Obviously whoever made the gif above knew if they would have gone for 0.04fps it would have been way too seizure-inducing, but I would like to argue that the feel of these 0.1-0.15fps gifs induces a term I coined called Post-Seizure.

I am on the fence too whether or not i ‘like’ the GIF, Corinna, because I am having a post-seizure in my mind. I am completely immune to flashy fast gifs that these slower gifs are really just making me completely lose it. To make matters worse remember that 93% of the gifs you post fall into this framerate spectrum. This site is causing me horrible grief.

Bottom line: Could you please post some more GIFs that dont loop or at least GIFs which have +4 or +5fps framerates as GIFs of the day? It would add a new level of variety to my day.

Corinna Kirsch February 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Thank you for the best comment of the day on the blog. Maybe for the week. I can definitely scour for more GIFs at different framerates.

Zach Scott February 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

It’s really nice to see someone talking about GIF framerates! Since this topic comes up every dozen years or so I may as well submit my thoughts. I enjoy making the occasional GIF with very short framerates – 0.03 seconds per frame is the shortest that my version of Photoshop accommodates – because I have a very high tolerance to seizure-inducing images and I like how it creates an optical illusion and plays tricks on the viewer’s brain.

There’s another side effect of using very short framerates that can be viewed as both beneficial and a problem, depending on one’s perspective: sometimes browsers and other devices can’t really handle them. One would expect that a simple looping two-frame GIF, one frame completely black and the other completely white, would pulse steadily. Very fast and disorienting, sure, but steady. But depending on which OS/browser, or your video card, or the application you’re using, the actual effect can be very different, with delays and brief pauses. Most GIFs aren’t 2-frame black and white images, of course, so the more complex they are, the more that inconsistencies appear. Personally I think the inconsistencies and unpredictability make things more interesting, but of course others may disagree.

Very anecdotal: occasionally when I make a GIF I have multiple versions at different framerates, and post them all on my Tumblr. Invariably, the megafast 0.03 fps version is not well-received compared to the slower versions. Some people really do have a visceral negative reaction to them. Like, enough to email you and complain that your image is hurting their eyes.

Really SLOW framerate GIFs would be an interesting thing to pursue, but it’s hard enough to get someone to stare at a particular image for 5 seconds, let alone 5 minutes, so slowGIFs are probably doomed to be desirable only for really, really patient people.

Last thing: non-looping GIFs are also an interesting idea, but besides the logistical issues (what if the viewer doesn’t see the GIF until after it’s already played it’s single time?), taking out the loop removes the most unique and valuable property of the GIF. The only unique properties a non-looping GIF would have compared to a video file are the restrictions on colors and the near-universal compatibility. Still, I think there are really cool things that could be done with non-looping GIFs. In particular, one could create a wall of non-looping GIFs, each playing at a different frame rate, creating the effect of a digital flag unfurling.

strunken white February 4, 2015 at 2:29 pm

I love the idea of stretching the basic conventions of the format… it would be great if this comment thread spun off into a gif auteur club

strunken white February 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm

a while back I made this non-looping 1 fps gif:
http://www.thebestrevenge.info/loading-4-33.gif

in theory, it takes 4 minutes and 33 seconds to play

Zach Scott February 4, 2015 at 2:52 pm

I’ll email you. Who doesn’t love a spinoff?

Corinna Kirsch February 4, 2015 at 2:59 pm

GIF Friends Club!

sstage February 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Nullsleep did a study on gif frame rate speed display in different browsers a couple years ago – you might find it interesting : http://nullsleep.tumblr.com/post/16524517190/animated-gif-minimum-frame-delay-browser

Corinna Kirsch February 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

This is fantastic and everyone should know about it. I’d forgotten about this until now, but Jeremiah does know how to gather a ton of data.

Zach Scott February 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for sharing that. I knew that some browsers didn’t support frame rates beneath a certain threshold (like 0.03 or 0.02 seconds), but I had no idea that if you went beneath that threshold it would round UP to 0.10! That’s awful.

Corinna Kirsch February 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Sounds like I need to interview someone about this odd rounding up action. Also on the “structural” GIF, although I bet everyone on this knows about Lialina’s already: http://rhizome.org/editorial/2013/aug/8/olia-lialina-summer-2013/

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