It’s difficult to write seriously about GIFs, those looping pieces of web content that more often convey the weird and silly side of the web.
But GIFs are quickly becoming a language, as acknowledged by enormous platforms like Facebook integrating directly into the chat feed. And Giphy, the Brooklyn-based company that curates, organizes and spreads like viruses these important snippets of pop culture, wants to own the whole cycle.
Today, the company launches GiphyCam, a dead simple and incredibly enjoyable way to insert some inanity to your life. “We’re revolutionizing the selfie,” says Julie Logan, Giphy’s director of brand strategy. The company has done so much to make existing GIFs easy to share, she says, and wanted to have the same effect new content.
By default, GiphyCam, which comes to iOS today and Android sometime in the future, opens on your face. The company is hoping that first interaction, seeing yourself awkwardly conveyed in this small square digital porthole, effects like dolphins floating in the background at the ready, will engender some strange and wonderful inaugural GIFs. While live filters and effects are part and parcel of GIF culture today, it’s the ease at which they can be packaged and shared through GiphyCam which makes their dissemination so powerful.
“There’s lots of technical complexities that go into making a GIF look so simple,” says Logan. Most GIFs are actually a number of still images strung together, masked as a loop. Some companies, like Imgur, have attempted to “fix” that problem by creating their own extensions, the proverbial .MKV problem video containers faced in the mid-2000’s.
Still, GIFs are only getting more ubiquitous, with companies like Facebook and Twitter integrating them right into their feeds. And what started out as a plugin for Facebook Messenger quickly turned into a permanent feature when Giphy was added as the official GIF provider for the iOS and Android apps.
That you can quickly share GiphyCam’s little treasures to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Messages and Mail make it the perfect tool for weird bursts of creativity. Or it’s all just silly fun. Either way, front or back camera it’s the best way to make a quick looping video on the iPhone, and that’s fine with me.