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Direct your own GIF film

Learn how to remix online stock photography into an absurdist video short

Our tech editor Stephen Fortune will be sharing his reflections on the Webmaker tools for the next two weeks." In part 2 of his Webmaker blog, Stephen uses media remixing tools to spotlight GIFs addition to the stock footage archive.

Webmaker Goggles amply demonstrates the punk potential of reappropriating the (relatively) static content of webpages. When you move into the myriad other media that abounds on the internet, our shorthand switches to remixing, a mode of content creation that simply wasn't available to everyone before the advent of web 2.0.

You can overlay the visual content with hyperlinks, texts, graphics, live data. Even GIFs!

There is an unfathomable amount of video, music and information on the internet, far too much to grok in an entire lifetime. That's is why recombination, aggregation and synthesis are the dispositions most needed to make sense of WWW culture. Another of Mozilla's tools, the Popcorn Maker, provides an amazing introduction into those skills.

Mozilla have toyed with a few designations for this platform: “cloudmashing”,“web-based video editing” or “video editing in the cloud”. It's pretty much all those things: you can import video (from Youtube or Vimeo), audio from either of those two sources or soundcloud. You can overlay the visual content with hyperlinks, texts, graphics, live data. Even GIFs!

It's reminiscent, in the very best way, of Nico Nico Douga – a Japanese video remixing platform of the same age as Youtube. And as someone who last used an enterprise-level video editor more than 5 years ago I found the interface intuitive and hassle free.

But you did heard me mention GIFs, right? Well, I couldn't resist: I've not played with a platform where I could storyboard a sequence of GIFs together, so that was the first thing I wanted to do. And a pretty interesting source of narrative content presented itself to me: a new venture selling stock cinegraph GIFs (in hindsight, this was always coming down the pipeline since Tyra Banks enthused about how amazing they were). 

I honestly thought stock photography had had its day after DIS magazine won a Rhizome award around the topic. I was wrong.

To my eyes the library of stock photography service Cinegif provides a really rich resource for composing within PopCorn Maker. The cinemagraph fad always bemused me: GIFs are really lo-res and their file size is utterly disproportionate to the quality. And yet, enough creatives demonstrated brilliance within the cinemagraph medium that it captured everyones attention.

We're now at a point where stock photography is willing to stage wonderful compositions, film them, and then convert that video back into the low res format of GIFs (though it must be noted that Cinegif have a solid claim to be top dog when it comes to squeezing value from the 26 year old format).

My composition of the Cinegif stock library is below; the watermark is present because you've got to give Cinegif their due. And while it's easy to be snide about this venture there's also something alluring about stock photography moving into a new field. The imagery animated therein is a crystallisation of the themes which resonate most with whoever it is thats into buying stock photography. Maybe there's a whole subculture of 'business Vines' that's passed me by?

As with all of the Webmaker series you can remix the little narrative I put together here should you feel inclined to do so! More of Cinegif's stock images can be found here. A final word about that capability: jumping right into someone's media timeline, seeing how they've arranged their video, images and soundtracks and being affordedthe freedom to rearrange as you please, is totally novel to my eyes. If Popcorn can foment a community of remixers and content contributors around its remixing and composition tool, Mozilla could have a very special platform on their hands.