Andy Murray Auto Awesome

When Guardian US editor Janine Gibson and my CUNY colleague John Smock talked in front of me about using animated GIFs in the service of news, I recoiled in horror and begged them not to.

I was wrong.

Playing with Google+ Auto Awesomeness — which takes contiguous photos and turns them into a dancing GIFs — while shooting at the US Open this week made me realize what new could be conveyed with a moving picture, à la Harry Potter’s blatt, the Daily Prophet, rather than a mere, print still picture.

Take, for example, this shot (these shots?) of Murray as he won against Leonardo Mayer. Imagine it better framed. Still, there’s something wonderful about the action around him at the moment of victory and the reveal that is Murray’s victory growl.

And there’s this image(s) of his serve earlier in the match. Better shot, it could be instructive: imagine showing a golf swing this way or a great catch in baseball or a play in a football game.

Now I know you may ask: Why not just include a video snippet? Well, that requires a player and the act of playing. And video brings with it so much baggage: sound and production orthodoxy. Video, of course has its place. But so do moving images like these.

Imagine, too, moving pictures showing the disaster of the Japanese tsunami rolling in. Imagine iconic images the past. I know some will accuse me of heresy, but I wonder what it would add to see John-John Kennedy’s hand raise in salute or the soldiers at Iwo Jima raising their flag with a moment’s animation. Imagine how these images as time-lapse could show progression: the growth of a crowd, the shrinking of an ice cap, the aging of a President.

And see what fun it can be just with a neon sign.

  • I agree, these are some great shots… they’re also a far cry from what we traditionally think of as ‘gifs’ (i.e. low quality, made in paint, and probably square) – which, unfortunately, remain.

    That being said, it appears I’ll have to revisit my loathing of any *.gif’s being stored on my computer…

  • A huge leap over the traditional animated gif. We all used those to add a bit of motion to icons in the web’s younger days. Remember the animated flag icon. This has so much more potential.

  • Mark Meszaros

    Jeff I have enjoyed listening to you with Leo for years
    I thought you might appreciate this fellow hs an admirer of you
    he mentions you in a YouTube video

  • Mike Luong

    I also agree that the animated GIFs can add an interesting aspect to a news article. But like anything else, use sparingly and appropriately.

  • The Man With No Name As A Name

    Let’s see: makes web pages slower to load. Yes. Chokes older computer hardware. Yup. Add a layer of distraction that pulls eyes away from the text? Ditto.

    No doubt they will be everywhere soon.