Believe it or not, GIFs have been around for more than 30 years — they were first introduced by CompuServe in 1987.
Crazy, right? Since that time, GIFs have become a universal form of communication on the Internet.
Feeling awkward? Use the Chrissy Teigen GIF. Feeling like the world around you is falling apart and you’re trying your best to hold it all together? The This Is Fine GIF is at your service.
But while GIFs themselves have been around since the ’80s, it’s only in the past couple of years that a new kind of GIF has come on the scene.
They’re called split-depth GIFs, and they are basically magic.
Let’s start with the basics. Just what exactly is a split-depth GIF?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Split-depth GIFs create a false sense of depth that tricks your brain into seeing three-dimensional movement when, in fact, you’re viewing a simple 2-D video.
The effect is achieved by superimposing lines over the original GIF. This creates another plane within the image. Basically, your brain thinks the lines are at the same level as your computer (or phone) screen, and the actual movement is going on “behind” those lines.
The lines can be either horizontal, vertical, angled, or a combination of all three. Here’s an example of the effect be achieved with horizontal lines.
As soon as part of the video crosses the lines, your brain interprets the movement as emerging from your computer screen, and voila! The split-depth effect has you leaping back from your screen and looking like a fool.
This one is especially tricky because the lines are actually the top and bottom borders of the image. Did it surprise you?
You might be asking yourself: How are split-depth GIFs made?
It’s actually a pretty long process…