Examples: Animated GIF History and Technical Limits

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As noted previously, animated GIFs can be created from a huge variety of source material. Let's take a quick tour.

The First Golden Age of Animated GIFs

Back in the 90's animated GIFs had a golden era. Website creators wanted to add animation and personality to web pages and animated GIFs fit the bill because, unlike video, they worked over slow connections. Some famous examples from that era:

MC Hammer

MC Hammer

Email Me

Email Me

Under Construction

Under Construction

These are classics. Notice how they work within the constraints we discussed. They are very short animations.  The MC Hammer example is 139kbs. The email me example is 4kb. That's tiny!


It's probably no surprise that the GIF format has been used to create art. Because GIFs loop silently, they provide a medium for creating unique, um, experiences.

Cats Within Cats

Forever Cats


Hexagon Wave by Dave Whyte at Bees and Bombs

Hexagon Wave

These are great examples of how sophisticated tools and know-how can be used to create remarkable animated GIFs. 

Video Clip GIFs

Today, the biggest single source of animated GIFs is video clips. Here, a video is essentially cut into individual images and then those images are combined into an animated GIF. Here's what I mean:

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Now that you know the process, let's look at a few GIFs made from video clips...

NOTE: I've included information on file size so can get a feel for how big these very short files can get.

Dog Jumps Too Soon

2.5 seconds – 1.2 mb (24 Frames)

Dog Balancing

Dog Balancing

5 seconds - 1 mb (67 frames)

Sneaky Puppy

5.5 seconds - 1.9 mbs (59 frames)

The Big Idea:

Today, animated GIFs are known for entertainment. Whether they are beautiful animations or cat video clips, the GIF format offers a way to create and share video-like animations.  

Unfortunately, animated GIFs made from video clips are difficult to manage. They must be very short and low resolution to remain small enough to share on the web.  Animated GIF art can be difficult to create without the proper tools and know-how.

Thankfully, animated GIFs can be so much more. 

Next: Let's consider the useful side of animated GIFs.