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Digital Storytelling Through GIFs – Capture a Moment in Time

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by Margaret Powers

One of the suggested #etmooc tasks for this week’s topic of digital storytelling is to make an animated GIF. I’ve never tried created a GIF but I’ve been very interested in testing it out, especially after watching the the “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the GIF” session with Jim Groom. During the session there was an active backchannel via the #etmooc hashtag and someone asked about tools and apps to create GIFs. One of the suggestions was Cinemagram, which I promptly downloaded so I could test it out.

After checking out the app, I considered different things I could film to create my first GIF. I had hoped one of my cats might be a willing participant … but no such luck. Then, on my way into work today, I realized I had the perfect setting right outside my door – the playground.

I love playgrounds and think they can be wonderful places for play, exploration, and discovery. Given how many people have experienced a playground of some sort, I think they are also rich ground for calling on memories and prompting people to reflect on their own childhoods.

I created two GIFs to try and capture the movement of playgrounds. I appreciated the ability to slow the clip via Cinemagram because while action is often very fast on the playground when you’re a child, when you recall your experiences, things seem to slow down. Time is less of a factor and you’re able to gently savor a moment and think back to the people and places that share your playground memories with you. I’d be curious to hear what memories these GIFs might call up for others.
This first GIF shows swaying monkey bars, slowly yet perpetually migrating from side to side. To me, they tell the story of children who have swung on them over and over, of the desire young kids have to return to the same games time and time again. And while they sway, they are also not all in sync, reminding me of the discord that often develops among children during play when activities don’t always go as planned.

I debated about what story this next GIF was trying to tell (since I’m giving it a life of it’s own) and hopefully it will speak in different ways to different people. At first, I thought the GIF was a bit somber, showing empty swings with no one to enjoy them. But as I watched it some more, I felt it was actually a nice way to capture the peace and joy I often experience when swinging. I like how through the GIF I can capture the rhythmic repetition of gliding back and forth in one “still” scene and watching it, I actually begin to feel like I’m in motion too.

With all of that said, I’m not at all sure if I’m taking full advantage of all of the capabilities of Cinemagram and creating GIFs to capture a moment. Next, I hope to explore creating GIFs from photographs and using a tool like GIMP.

  • How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the GIF (bavatuesdays.com)
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Margaret Powers is a Technology Coordinator working with students and teachers in Pre-K through 2nd Grade and a Technology and Education Consultant specializing in social media, early childhood, and global education. She has a master’s in International Training and Education from American University and a B.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College.

          
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