Giving GIFs a Try

One of the suggested #etmooc tasks for this week’s topic of digital storytelling is to make an animated GIF. I’ve never tried created a GIF but I’ve been very interested in testing it out, especially after watching the the “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the GIF” session with Jim Groom.

During the session there was an active backchannel via the #etmooc hashtag and someone asked about tools and apps to create GIFs. One of the suggestions was Cinemagram, which I promptly downloaded so I could test it out.

After checking out the app, I considered different things I could film to create my first GIF. I had hoped one of my cats might be a willing participant … but no such luck. Then, on my way into work today, I realized I had the perfect setting right outside my door – the playground.

I love playgrounds and think they can be wonderful places for play, exploration, and discovery. Given how many people have experienced a playground of some sort, I think they are also rich ground for calling on memories and prompting people to reflect on their own childhoods.

I created two GIFs to try and capture the movement of playgrounds. I appreciated the ability to slow the clip via Cinemagram because while action is often very fast on the playground when you’re a child, when you recall your experiences, things seem to slow down. Time is less of a factor and you’re able to gently savor a moment and think back to the people and places that share your playground memories with you. I’d be curious to hear what memories these GIFs might call up for others.

This first GIF shows swaying monkey bars, slowly yet perpetually migrating from side to side. To me, they tell the story of children who have swung on them over and over, of the desire young kids have to return to the same games time and time again. And while they sway, they are also not all in sync, reminding me of the discord that often develops among children during play when activities don’t always go as planned.

swing GIF

I debated about what story this next GIF was trying to tell (since I’m giving it a life of it’s own) and hopefully it will speak in different ways to different people. At first, I thought the GIF was a bit somber, showing empty swings with no one to enjoy them. But as I watched it some more, I felt it was actually a nice way to capture the peace and joy I often experience when swinging. I like how through the GIF I can capture the rhythmic repetition of gliding back and forth in one “still” scene and watching it, I actually begin to feel like I’m in motion too.

With all of that said, I’m not at all sure if I’m taking full advantage of all of the capabilities of Cinemagram and creating GIFs to capture a moment. Next, I hope to explore creating GIFs from photographs and using a tool like GIMP.



18 responses to “Giving GIFs a Try

  1. Well I think your gifs are great Maggie and you’ve done a great job. I like how the playground equipment moves but it’s also a very lonely picture too. You don’t think of playgrounds as empty but most of the time they are. It just looks so abandoned. Check out my Barbie movie when you get a chance!

    • Thanks Karen! Yes, the movement of the playground equipment without anyone on it was part of what made it feel lonesome at first to me. I’ll definitely have to check out your Barbie movie! Testing all of these new tools, I’ve gotten a bit behind on checking in on other blogs but it’s on my list.

  2. Sisqitman (Glenn Hervieux)

    Margaret, I like how you shared your process of learning how to use the app in kind of an interpretive, artistic way. The swinging bars with everything in motion reminds me of an earthquake…I’ll bet you can guess what state I live in? Ha! I just downloaded the Cinemagram app and I’ll have to try it out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Glenn! That’s an interesting idea – having only experienced the very rare earthquake or two on the east coast, I hadn’t thought about earthquakes. It’s a good reminder of how powerful your context and experiences can be in interpreting (and creating) stories and information. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about Cinemagram.

  3. the empty rings make me think of recent memories…that the bell rang, or Mom called for dinner, but the rings are still full of the shouts and memories and the next kid who touches them gets the magic passed on. Evocative in a bittersweet way. Thanks

    • Yes! I keep hearing sounds when I look at the images too and actually debated for a bit if I should find a way to add in some kind of sound – children laughing as they played together, the screams of young children caught up in a game of chase … Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recollections after looking at the GIFs!

  4. Margaret, thanks once again for sharing the process of your learning! Playgrounds certainly do conjure many memories. As you state, they are a place for “play, exploration, and discovery” – a bit like the ETMOOC journey. Like Glenn, I have now downloaded Cinemagram to try (one of a few apps I’ve downloaded today based on ETMOOC recommendations). I hope my GIF attempts are as creative as yours. 😃

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  6. g2-a3ce4e45c979a8523a2098808847fcc5

    These GIfs are beautiful and powerful. When I see them I immediately think Nuclear Apocalypse. The swings are still swinging, but all the people are gone. I can’t help but find them deeply creepy, but then again, I am deeply creepy. Brilliant stuff!

    • Thanks Jim! Wow, nuclear apocalypse is a powerful image but now that you mention it, I can see that idea come to life in the GIFs. That’s something I’m coming to love about this medium, the ability to capture movement and create an everlasting moment that can be interpreted into so many different stories. I appreciate your feedback on my work. I’m looking forward to making some more GIFs.

  7. Actually I am Jim groom not g2-a3ce4e45c979a8523a2098808847fcc5 🙂

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