GIFs and Vine – Animation Promotional Tool or Nuisance?

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GIFs pretty much inhabit the internet these days. You can’t click a link without stumbling across one, and God help you if you think you’re going to get very far down your Tumblr dashboard without seeing at least a dozen. Yes indeedy, GIFs are a great piece of the larger internet puzzle which has been discussed on this blog before. That said, are they becoming more a nuisance?

Peanuts and Vine: Together At Last

Today’s post comes courtesy of the announcement that the Peanuts gang are set to star in 12 videos to be launched on Twitter’s Vine service. iKids describes the new content as being:

Commissioned by Peanuts Worldwide, [Khoa] Phan will develop a dozen original, six-second videos using the app. Videos will be based on 12 Peanut themes, including the kite-eating tree, Schroeder’s music, Linus’s blanket, Lucy’s psychiatry booth, Snoopy’s dog house, Snoopy himself, the Red Baron, Woodstock, baseball games, football games, the Great Pumpkin and the Little Red-Haired Girl.

So far so, well, brand synergy-ey. Vine has proven to be quite popular (animator Marlo Meekins has become even more infamous famous thanks to her creations) and has found its way into sharing ideas that one would never thought worthy.

The coming together of Peanuts and Vine sort of makes sense given the latter’s comic strip origins and the requisite focus on a single gag. Vine would essentially replicate this on a motion picture scale. That said, there are concerns that have been raised.

Does It Reduce The Stature of Animation?

OK, this one’s a wee bit out there, but it’s still valid. Plenty of TV shows and films (animated or otherwise) are being reduced to GIFs by fans. Sure, they’re sharing the content they love and using GIFs as a discussion tool, but there is an inherent danger that the larger meaning or story behind a GIF could be lost by its brevity.

So is there a danger that animated content is being reduced to an extremely short-form of content or is this another opportunity for the technique?

The case for the latter is certainly strong. We’ve already seen animated GIFs used for unique creations; an encouraging sign.

The Nuisance Risk

As with anything on the internet, there is a habit of taking things about as far as they can be tolerated. Animated GIFs are just the latest in a long line of things to mollify the internet (glossy buttons anyone?). With such prevelance comes the risk of over-exposure. Memes have already reached a level of notoriety that has seen them banned from various discussion boards and subreddits. Animated GIFs could be next.

Using GIFs for promotional purposes is where the line may well be drawn. Tumblr has come in for some flack over the use of GIFs in promoted ads on the site. Ditto for corporate GIFs whose sole purpose is to either sell stuff or incite a consumer response. The concern is that all are perceived as being advertisements and therefore to be avoided.

Are GIFs the latest internet fad or are they really the new old way of distributing content? Share your thoughts with a comment!

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