Imgur makes GIFs better, faster, stronger – and harder to share, for now

9 Oct 2014

Image via Stokkete/Shutterstock

Imgur wants to make GIFs, already one of the greatest elements of the internet, even better with an MP4 conversion transforming them into GIF videos.

GIF videos will still playback instantly and in a loop just a like a regular GIF, but the new file type (.gifv) has lots of benefits.

For starters, the MP4 compression means smaller file sizes for larger GIFs. For example, this GIF video announcing the new format would be 49MB as a .gif file but has shrunk to a neat 3.6MB as a .gifv file, with no discernible loss of quality.

You’ll also note that the GIF video playsback at full speed even as it’s loading, waving goodbye to the frame-by-frame stuttering GIFs of old.

What’s more, the MP4 conversion also means that GIFs uploaded to Imgur will fully animate on social media channels such as Facebook.

Since .gifv files can be up to 10 times smaller than .gif, Imgur has also raised the upload limit on standard GIFs from 5MB to 50MB and this new format will be applied to all new GIF files uploaded to the platform.

This is a substantial improvement to what has become a staple of online culture, but it will be some time before it hits mainstream use.

Imgur intends to submit the .gifv specification to relevant standards organisations before the end of the year and, until it has become an accepted file format, GIF videos will be downloaded as MP4s and .gifv benefits will be limited to Imgur’s own gallery.

So, in summary, GIFs are going to be better, faster and playable across a multitude of platforms.

Britney Spears GIF

But not just yet.

Britney Spears GIF

Main image by Stokkete via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.