GIF IT UP is an international competition to find the best GIFs using public domain and openly licensed digital video, images, text, and other material from the digital collections of Europeana, DPLA, Trove and DigitalNZ and other libraries. People from all over the world participate by finding amazing works and animating them.
I love the public domain and creative commons, and have been wanting for a long time to make a game using only remixed public domain assets. I saw this competition and though I hadn’t made any animated GIF like this before, the contest gave me the motivation to give it a try! It was a real surprise to have won the award for best first-time GIF-maker!
Trawling through public domain materials is always a magical experience for me. It’s a feast of human creative expression, more art and beauty than you could appreciate in a lifetime. And working with those materials is a way of directly citing your inspiration. I don’t see it as breathing new life into old works, but just fashioning something new out of existing art, which is what I think all creative expression is anyway.
I don’t really know much about animation, and all the tools I tried were either too simple for what I wanted, or far too complicated. So I just stuck to what I knew and used Unity! A game engine is surprisingly capable for GIF animation; Unity already has a great sprite animation setup, and I bet if I used the new timeline feature it would’ve been even easier.
5 More Minutes (on GIPHY)
The original piece I used is a 1779 etching by Jacques Gamelin titled “A skeleton, seated on his grave, awakes to the last trump“. Despite the dour subject it had a lot of humor to it already. My wife (and biggest skeleton fan I know) suggested the “5 More Minutes!” exclamation.
Dancing Sailor (on GIPHY)
This is from a 1912 silent film by Italian documentarian Luca Comerio about the Italian navy. This is from a section about daily life. The color here is from the original, it was common to use a color overlay as an early precursor to true color film. Silent films are ideal for GIFs since they’re usually fixed perspective and use simple framing. It’s not quite a clean loop unfortunately, but I learned a lot about turning film into a framed animation.
New Tricks (on GIPHY)
The original here is a mid-1600s painting by François Verwilt that had so much character already. Although the original figures suggested a lot of motion, actually getting fluid animation from them was pretty difficult! I wasn’t the only contest participant to find this piece either, Ondřej Poštulka used it as well, making an entry with rather more fluid animation than mine! It’s great seeing two remixes of the same source though, I’d love to see a category in the future with a pre-selected source piece.
I didn’t submit these as entries, but other ones I worked on: