Matthew DiVito’s gif animations mark him out as one of the best designers working in this burgeoning small-scale medium. We talked to him about his work to date and the hypnotic power of the looping animation…
It’s in fact been possible to produce basic short animations using the gif image format since 1989, but thanks to the increase in the standard of graphics and available colours, not to mention the raft new programs in which to produce an animation, gifs are now capable of transmitting some great digital experimentation.
When not working on client projects (or as a hobbyist game developer), Boston-based motion graphics designer DiVito can be found using a range of geometric shapes and patterns to produce some truly hypnotic animated gifs. Fans of his work, which he blogs at mr. div, CR asked him about his work in the medium.
CR: On your mr. div tumblr there’s a ‘note to self’ from early 2011 to “make better animated gifs”. How did you make them better? Was it about putting more time into them, or more to do with how you were making them?
MDV: That note can be found on my very first gif from February 2011, so I suppose the idea of making gifs has been floating around in my head for a while now. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time becoming more familiar with my 3D software of choice, Cinema 4D, but it was also a matter of learning how to keep the gifs under tumblr’s size limits without losing too much quality. The ‘trick’ is to keep your animation short and use a very limited colour palette.
CR: The gif has been a format for experimental animation for a while now, but whose work do you like?
MDV: It’s funny, it never really occurred to me that there were people out there who were known just for making gifs until my own blog started to get popular. Since then I’ve learned about quite a few gif makers – among my favorites are dvdp, whtebkgrnd, and patakk.
CR: How long does it take you to put one together? And can you tell us a bit about the programs you use to create them? Is there a limit to how long the animated sequence can be?
MDV: I usually spend anywhere between one to four hours on any single gif. I typically will use some combination of Cinema 4D and After Effects to create the animations and Photoshop to actually save out the gif file. As I alluded to earlier, keeping a gif under tumblr’s file size limit is a big part of the technical and creative challenge of the whole process.
CR: What do you particularly like about the medium?
MDV: To me, the most brilliant characteristic of animated gifs is that they can be set to loop endlessly. This tends to give them a rather hypnotic quality and I think it’s very cool to think that someone could potentially get really lost in an animation. Without a ‘start’ or ‘end’ point, it’s really up to viewer how they want to consume a gif – you could glance at it for two seconds, or stare at it for five minutes, either way the gif will just keep on going.
CR: Are you happy to just experiment – and blog the results – or do you see these pieces as part of something potentially bigger in your work? Is there something you’d like to do in the future that might involve using animated gifs?
MDV: One of my goals with these gifs is to create a sort of visual language that could potentially branch out into other mediums. Even though the gifs don’t interact with each other, I like to think they all sort of exist in the same dreamlike alternate universe. I definitely want to explore this universe more, whether that be in the form of more long-form animations, or in an interactive setting like a video game. For now though, I’m happy to keep experimenting and see where these gifs take me.
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CR in Print
The June issue of Creative Review features an interview with the editors of new book Pretty Ugly: Visual Rebellion in Graphic Design. Plus a profile on multi-award-winning director Johnny Kelly, a look at the latest techniques in movie marketing, the mission to cross CGI’s Uncanny Valley, a review of the Barbican’s Bauhaus show, logos by artists and much more. Plus, in Monograph this month, we look behind the scenes at the making of an amazing installation for Guinness, carved from solid wood.
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