Sony puts animated .gif creation in more hands with mobile app

Sony may be winding up production of its cassette tape players this month, but the firm is nevertheless going back in time to kickstart another retro media format.

The company has just released a production studio for partially-animated .gifs, catering to the growing appreciation of the lo-fi graphics format.

Motiongraph is a mobile app, made by Sony Digital Network Applications Inc., that lets Android camera-phone users rub to easily isolate moving parts of images, freezing non-moving components that otherwise would increase file sizes. And it includes a feature to turn repeating sequences in to loops.

Many users initially discovered animated .gifs as their first experience of moving imagery on the web in the mid- to late-90s, later surpassed by embedded, fully-moving videos.

But recent re-popularisation by users especially of Tumblr has led to a resurgence in the format. For instance, The Guardian “live-giffed” October’s US presidential election debates, a .gif exhibition was recently held at Internet Week Europe while a high-brow art competition was held for practitioners in the often-comedic format, judged by notable artists.

Sony’s Motiongraph is just one of several apps recently launched to help more consumers make their own. Gifbrewery is one of the desktop creators. CinemagramLoopcam, GifBoom and GifCam are some of the more notable consumer apps. Like them, it is also a self-contained, Instagram-like consumer service, displaying mobile uploads from other users.

But the arrival of Sony in the space suggests further validation of the format from a giant that is used to defining formats and making media production software for professionals. If Motiongraph is bundled with Sony’s Xperia handset line-up, many more people may soon be publishing these curious, retrograde animations online.