The once-lowly GIF, which has risen to become the dominant format for visual communication on the Web, is getting an upgrade. The photo-sharing website Imgur is introducing a new short-clip format called GIFV that it says is both higher in quality and smaller in size than traditional GIFs.
“The culture is way bigger than any specific file format,” Imgur CEO Alan Schaaf said about GIFs in a press release. “With Project GIFV, we wanted to preserve the experience of the GIF while optimizing it for all the changes that have happened on the Internet since the format was first introduced in 1987.”
GIFs posted to Imgur will now be automatically converted to the MP4 format, which the company is branding as the “GIFV” file extension. The new videos will loop just like regular GIFs, but they’ll have a higher image quality while boasting a smaller file size. The change should help Imgur images load faster on mobile devices. It will also allow the company to raise the file size limit for GIF uploads from 5 MB to 50 MB (here’s a regular 5MB GIF compared to a 5o MB GIF converted to the new GIFV format).
Even web users that don’t frequent Imgur.com will benefit from the change. 1.5 million images are uploaded to Imgur each day, and many of them rapidly spread to blogs, social media platforms and news websites.