The Gift of GIFs


It’s evident communication has changed throughout history. Starting from pictures in caves to oral words to non-verbal signals and even a full on language with just hands. The internet made the world smaller allowing people from all over to communicate with each other instantly. Yet, none of that compares to the greatest form of communication, Graphics Interchange Format, GIF for short.

Pronounced with a hard G, GIFs have revolutionized communication by combining pop culture, psychology and humor AND placing it into the hands of the masses. For those that don’t know what GIFs are, how’s it living under a rock?

Seconds-long moving pictures of a recorded media can communicate better than any word or words in the dictionary with more accuracy in expressing the vast spectrum of human emotion. Such communication is one of the closest things the human species has that’s so far advanced it’s almost alien. Finding the perfect GIF as a response can help release endorphins into your system making you feel happy, therefore the usage of GIFs in everyday digital communication should be encouraged.

Finding GIFs online can be fun. It can also be a little frustrating, like having a specific word at the tip of your tongue and not being able to figure it out. Fandoms use GIFs from their favorite TV shows or films; sometimes celebrities in candid interviews give us the exact facial expressions we need others to see to understand what we mean.


Open your internet browser and go to a search engine website. I use Google because they own the internet. Search a word or phrase, choose Images and then click the GIF option for filtering results.

Enjoy scrolling through the moving pictures. Save the GIF that best accurately illustrates your response and then send it.

I like to create a an album in my photos app that is full of only GIFs so that i’m not frantically scrolling through my entire photo collection.

There’s more fun where that came from.

Making your own GIFs is also a possibility. GIFs were usually made by tech-savvy folk using a fancy computer program. These were the gatekeepers of what would be made into a GIF and what would stay as a regular video. But those days are long gone.


With the advancement in mobile apps, anyone can now make GIFs of anything they want. As a Twitter user I see all kinds of videos on my timeline and some of them NEED to be a GIF so that I can use later. The app I use is called ImgPlay and it’s the greatest ever.

ImgPlay lets you upload a video you wish to turn into a GIF, save and download to your photos. It includes capabilities of slicing videos if you only want a portion to be GIFed, speed up or slow down playback, loop limitations or infinite, add filters or text, and even save in multiple file sizes! Sometimes I’m bored out of my mind and I’ll hop on and make a few GIFs to share with my friends. They’re never impressed but I enjoy them. Here’s a few I’ve made (left to right): my baby Ophie, a happy dog I saw on a road trip, VR dinosaur, my friend Sadie showing us she’s a ballerina queen, a moment that makes me laugh whenever i’m feeling blue, Mickey’s 90th display in Downtown Disney.


VR/AR Dinosaurs in Education


I went to Walmart the other day looking for a dinosaur coloring book, as co-pilots of road trips do, and was suddenly intrigued by an interesting package design across the isle. As nerdy as it may sound, juxtaposing elements will always pull me to investigate a product on a shelf over others. 

This box was matte black and featured a dinosaur and a child wearing a phone VR set. It’s bringing natural history and modern technology together — in a box that your could purchase at Walmart and take home. Augmented and virtual reality aren’t necessarily new in the perspective of how fast handheld technology is evolving, but it’s still exciting to have this technology so easily accessible. And it was just about $7.

So of course I ditched the coloring book and grabbed a clean, sealed box. The contents were a VR headset that your smartphone clips on, a guide pamphlet, a microfiber cleaning cloth and a deck of 20 dinosaur flashcards. These flashcards weren’t cookie-cutter design, either, these were top-notch designs.


The instructions are simple, in fact they’re easy enough that young kids could use it. Actually, the box says “Ages 7+” but I know for a fact even younger kids could operate the app. Basically, after launching the app , point the phone’s camera at any of the dinosaur profile flashcards and a 3D, moving dinosaur will appear standing over the card. A crazy thing to mention is that the flashcard don’t have barcodes on them so it’s very cool to see the phone scanning a regular image.

A few features include seeing the dinosaur move, some dinosaurs could be transformed into skeletal version of themselves and had the ability to capture the photo. Each dinosaur on screen came with a simple “Fun Fact” that could’ve definitely been more fun or cool. I will admit, the graphics aren’t super realistic. Also, I have the iPhone X and their app isn’t calibrated properly since some parts cut off.

This product, which also comes with space and animal-theme flashcards, sold separately, would be so much cooler if it weren’t static. A company could truly make this product educational if they updated the dinosaurs’ information, worked on the UI/UX of the app and released more flashcards with more dinosaurs.

All in all, this educational and entertaining tool is still pretty cool. My adult, designer mind ran with some creative critique but kids might just enjoy it for how it is.

You could download the app for free and try it yourself. Dinosaur 4D+ is the name of the app. And the front of the box included the Triceratops card as a tester so I’m sure I won’t get in trouble for sharing that card. Octagon Studios is the company responsible for this amazing product along with Utopia360.