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Moving Images

All that Glitters

Animated GIFs of the 1990s were rarely perfect. They either moved too fast or too slow, "jumped" at junctions, or contained forgotten pixels, like the famous hula girl. Take a closer look at the queen of homepage graphics, erotik.gif. The way she moves her gams up and down is very convincing, but it is against everything we know about anatomy.

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Moving Images
ubiquitous minicinema
GIF by Stephanie Davidson

Ubiquitous Minicinema

The acronym GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) is today mostly used to describe small annoying, blinking animations on amateur Web pages. However, it's important to remember that the file format specification is 21 years old, older than the Web itself. The first browsers didn't support GIFs, but in March 1996, with the release of Netscape 2.0, it became possible—and the face of the Internet changed within a few months. Early Web users, hungry for multimedia, were soon animating everything, from headers, backgrounds, and navigation to lists and "under construction" signs. Software tools to create these files became available for free.

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Moving Images
Group Z, Love, 1995

Early Experiments Online

In 1995, along with many people all around the globe, I was making my first Web page, for an experimental film club in Moscow. I still remember confusion about the new medium. Was it here to replace everything that was before, or was it just a temporary phenomenon to give way to something else next Christmas? Whatever the future would hold, one thing was absolutely clear: in a couple of more weeks, maximum a month, when the next browser version was released and the connection got a bit faster, with some more memory in the computer, it would be possible to watch films online.

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