Our internet is built on a peculiar set of social rules where Memes are everything. If it’s fun, sexy or just downright weird, share it.
One of the internet denizen’s favourite file formats for sharing images is the GIF, or graphics interchange format. Invented by CompuServe engineer Steve Wilhite and his team in 1987, the first thing you should know is it should be pronounced with a soft ‘G’ like ‘jif’.
GIF files support animation and are often used to capture emotions or moments from popular culture, such as film or news clips. Because they can contain short looped video sequences this allows people to post video loops virtually anywhere on the web, played directly in the web browser without any other video player or software add ons.
Memes are those images and GIFs that become so overshared they go ‘viral’. Hint: cats feature heavily – keyboard cat, ceiling cat and ‘nyan cat’ are big hitters. Moments of joy and celebration, anger, mystery, humour, or out and out pure fun.
Design studio Nord Collective is a vibrant young company that uses networked collaboration, it says, to build interesting things ‘through art, science, design and technology’. At this year’s Maker Faire UK in Newcastle the collective proudly displayed its latest project – the Tingbot and its partner in crime Ting.it.
Tingbot turns the popular Raspberry Pi microcomputer into a creative platform for making all sorts of apps that you and others can use, while Ting.it harnesses all the fun of GIFs by allowing Tingbot users to make their own short video loops. Post Tings to the ready-made Ting.it page and bingo, instant community.
The point of all this is to show how being creative with short video clips can be a real winner for anyone with a little imagination.
Six Second Plays
One social media platform is built on the power of looped videos alone. Vine was set up three years ago and bought almost instantly by Twitter. Its premise is simple, users create their own six second videos that play as an endless loop. Six seconds may not seem like a lot, but that is not the point: many GIFs are one second or less in length and their impact can be incredible.
Many international brands recognise the mojo of the looping video and post regularly to Vine. Sports franchises like the NBA and Major League Baseball post amazing in-game skills to their Vine accounts, getting millions of views. Artists, designers, inventors, dancers, singers and everyday businesses do the same – as long as you put a bit of thought into it and some music (there are definite trends on Vine, just as there are on Twitter, and choice of music can make or break your Vine), you’ll do just fine.
Look at this eclectic mix of Vines featuring video, music, animation, spoken word and time lapse/stop frame for six seconds of magic. ** Click on the volume button at the bottom right of each Vine to turn the volume up!
In The Loop
The UK’s first national conference is now being organised to celebrate the Vine and its first generation of video celebs. Called In The Loop, while I’m not sure about the idea of a ‘Vine star’, it is definitely a sign of the growing influence of short form video and, at best, its ability to tell a story or convey an emotion that hits home and engages an audience.