Imgur just did a solid for you and everyone else on the Internet who enjoys sharing GIFs (Graphic Interchange Format), the image file type that displays a short, animated image loop like the one shown above.
Today, the world’s largest image sharing site announced its “Project GIFV” initiative, which will upgrade current GIF files uploaded to Imgur into an updated format that uses the extension “.gifv.” So, what the heck does that mean for you?
Well first of all, GIFVs are smaller files and thus easier to share on plenty of sites that previously did not allow animation on the old file format — sites like Twitter and Facebook. (So as long as you’re sharing a GIFV file, you won’t need to install a third-party browser extension like F.B. Purity to get animated GIFs to work properly.)
“The [current] GIF format is outdated and isn’t compatible with today’s web. But the experience you get is amazing,” Imgur founder and CEO Alan Schaaf told VentureBeat. “One of the things I love about it is that it’s sort of like showing you the best part of a joke over and over.”
Popularity of the GIF format isn’t anything new, but it has gained quite a bit of notoriety alongside static-image memes over the years. And sites like Betaworks’ Giphy have popped up to cater to those looking for GIF images to share with friends when an emoticon just isn’t cutting it — even managing to forge partnerships with Facebook and Twitter to enable animated GIFs. But Imgur has always supported the format — even celebrated it — which is what inspired “Project GIFV,” the company said.
One big problem with the old GIF format is that file sizes could get pretty large. Because of this, animations tend to take a while to load, often experience choppy animation loops (good luck figuring out why), or worse, don’t work at all. The upgraded GIFVs are significantly smaller. For example, converting a 50MB GIF file to GIFV via uploading to Imgur cuts the file size down to about 3 – 5MB on average.
“What we’re doing actually isn’t new,” said Schaaf, explaining that the GIFV format is just a version of the MPEG-4 video format that doesn’t contain audio. (So yes, the “V’ in GIFV stands for video.) Yet, because Imgur is the leader in image hosting across the globe, it has a lot of clout to make GIFV a new popular format.
While Schaaf declined to go into detail, he did say Project GIFV goes beyond just the format upgrade. He also said that Imgur plans to submit documentation for GIFV to relevant Internet Standards organizations in hopes that the format will one day become a standard.
In addition to the GIFV upgrade, Imgur is also revising the maximum GIF file size limit for uploads from 5MB to 50MB. To understand how big of a difference that is, check out this 5MB GIF and then compare it to a converted 50MB GIF.