Futures Lab Update #125: Tools for Making Animated GIFs; Viber Chats for News

    by Reuben Stern
    October 16, 2015
    GIFBrewery is one of several GIF-creating apps. Screenshot courtesy of RJI.

    This week we test several tools that turn video and photos into animated GIF files, and we see how The Huffington Post is using the messaging app Viber to connect with audiences in a new way.

    "It's [a Viber chat] sort of like a behind-the-scenes view, and it's so much more casual than Twitter or our personal Twitter accounts that it's kind of fun. It's less about the traffic and more about interacting firsthand with the audience, and giving them a look at what we're talking about in our newsroom." -- Julia Bush, editorial fellow, Huffington Post

    PART 1: GIF tools

    Thanks to their compact size and ease of sharing on mobile devices, animated GIF files — which fit somewhere between still photos and video — have become a standard visual element that many newsrooms now incorporate into their journalism. We run through several desktop and mobile apps for creating animated GIFs and offer suggestions on which to use.
    Reporting by Katy Mersmann.


    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    For more information:

    GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files, have been around for almost 30 years, with animated GIF files making their way across the Web starting from the mid- to late 1990s. But recently the format has become widely adopted by younger users of social media. The files have some clear benefits over video: They loop by default, they autoplay without audio on most social media platforms, and they have much smaller file sizes.


    “GIF keyboards” are now available for many smartphones, as GIFs overtake emoji as a simple, wordless way to display emotion.

    Although generally smaller than video, there is no maximum size for GIF files, so any limitations are based on whatever the creation tool or host site allows. Imgur accepts GIFs up to 200 megabytes. Tumblr only accepts much smaller GIFs, up to 2 megabytes. If size limits are an issue, there are a number of ways to decrease file size for GIFs.


    More info about the apps we tried:

    Giffffr (owned by Giphy) enables users to create GIFs and then upload them to the Giphy database.

    GifGrabber is very simple to use and creates GIFs by capturing an onscreen recording.

    Gif Brewery also offers ways to customize GIFs.

    PicGIF allows for more customization of GIFs than other options.

    Giphy Cam enables users to create GIF files and add visual effects on mobile devices

    PART 2: Viber for news

    The Huffington Post is one of a few news organizations using the voice and text messaging platform Viber to reach new audiences. Julia Bush, editorial fellow at The Huffington Post, explains how the app brings users into the news in a different way.
    Reporting by Adam Pressler.

    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.

    FuturesLabWebBanner-mediashiftThe Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the iPad app to watch the show wherever you go. You can also sign up to receive email notification of each new episode.

    Tagged: audience engagement buzzfeed gif GIF Brewery gifffr GifGrabber Giphy Cam huffington post mashable messaging apps photoshop PicGIF rji rji futures lab Viber

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