PBS art series Off Book created this short video that presents a brief history of the animated GIF:
GIFs are one of the oldest image formats used on the web. Throughout their history, they have served a huge variety of purposes, from functional to entertainment. Now, 25 years after the first GIF was created, they are experiencing an explosion of interest and innovation that is pushing them into the terrain of art. In this episode of Off Book, we chart their history, explore the hotbed of GIF creativity on Tumblr, and talk to two teams of GIF artists who are evolving the form into powerful new visual experiences.
We’ve all seen photographers make mad dashes into group portraits, hoping to get into position before the camera’s self timer automatically snaps a photograph. Apple wants to make those a thing of the past. A new patent filed by the company (#20120057039) describes a new and smarter self-timer system that uses facial recognition in addition to the standard timer. Using a picture of the photographer’s face, the camera will wait until the shooter is in the scene before starting the countdown, ensuring that everyone in the photo has the same amount of time to put on a picture perfect smile.
Photoshop CS6 will have a new Iris Blur tool that lets you quickly add blur to an image that fakes a shallow depth of field. It’s a one tool-process that eschews the traditional methods of using masks, layers or depth maps.
One of the new darlings of the Internet world is Pinterest, a photo-sharing social network that has exploded in the past year to become one of the world’s most popular websites. In recent days, however, there has been concern over the fact that copyrighted images can be so easily reproduced and reused on Pinterest without the owner’s permission. A week ago Pinterest launched a special “nopin” HTML meta tag that lets website owners prevent “pinning” on their sites, and last Friday Flickr became the first large photo service to implement the tag, preventing “pinning” for copyrighted and protected photos. Previously Flickr was the third most popular source of pins on Pinterest, so this update will likely have a big impact on both sites.
Pentax released a new compact camera today called the Optio VS20, which offers a feature we haven’t seen before on a point-and-shoot: a second shutter release, zoom lever, and tripod mount for shooting vertically. The 16-megapixel camera is also smart about the orientation, as it packs an accelerometer that helps it intelligently display images the correct way. Other features include a 3-inch LCD screen and 720p video recording. It’ll start shipping next month for $250.
Apple’s doing it. Adobe’s doing it. Now Dropbox wants in. An upcoming version of the company’s popular cloud storage client will include a new photo importer feature that will automatically backup your photos whenever you connect a memory card, smartphone, or camera to your computer. You can try it out now by downloading the experimental build from this forum thread. Be sure to read the instructions to make sure you have a system that supports the feature.
Olympus and Panasonic might be cofounders of the Micro Four Thirds movement, but the companies appear to be taking different approaches toward 3D photography. While Panasonic offers a special 3D lens that contains two lenses, a newly discovered Olympus patent shows an even more novel approach: adding a second lens to a camera via its hot shoe. Simply stick the lens on and turn your camera sideways to transform it into a stereoscopic 3D camera!
Developer Conrad Kramer was poking around in iOS 5 when he stumbled upon a hidden panorama feature built into the operating system. It allows you to create panoramic photos by simply sweeping your camera across a scene. If you’re familiar with iOS, unlocking the feature involves changing a single line in a preference file (set EnableFirebreak to “YES” in com.apple.mobileslideshow.plist). People with jailbroken iPhones and iPods can also download the new Firebreak app in Cydia.