This is a start to a hopeful series of posts on how I Grok GIFs in which I make GIFs for and explain a particular GIF type, culture, or phenomena.
Last week I made it through the first round of GifTournament Battle #4! I’m a contender. I can make rad GIFs! But what’s GifTournament? Why blog about it? Well it’s this thing on Reddit… actually it is:
The Gif Tournament is a bracket-based tournament, similar in style to the NCAA March Madness tournament. Every few months, 64 of the Internet’s best gif makers go head-to-head, competing in single-elimination rounds until a champion is crowned. For more information,click here.
I’m a relatively light redditor, but I track and have contributed to a few of the different GIF subreddits: r/upvotedgifs, r/MyPeopleNeedMe, r/wheredidthesodago, r/behindthegifs, and of course the reddit gif mothership – r/gifs (came so close to the front page once).
But when I first discovered r/GifTournament last year when it hosted it’s first battle, I thought it was a really cool idea to have thematic challenges to frame the rounds. Everyone makes something in that theme and then you’re paired off against your competitor. They do a good job of trying to keep the gif maker’s popularity out of it by having all submissions anonymous. For three days, any redditor can vote for one or the other (or both?). A vote counts as an upvote (no downvotes) and whichever GIF gets the most points in the pairing moves to the next round.
The GIF makers that participate have some serious digital imaging skills and are basically great joke writers too. The depth of knowledge of popular culture they lean on (and the raid arrays filled with movies and tv shows), is pretty incredible. This was my favorite GIF from the winner of the first battle, u/MarkovManiac.
The rotoscoping to place the ‘AHHHHHHHHH’ behind Mike Starr’s head is crazy difficult. I’m not sure how it was done, but I’ve just begun to teach myself to use the rotoscoping tool in After Effects. I’ve wanted to have a reason to finally focus on learning AE so when Battle #4 rolled around, and with such a lovely invitation, I thought why not.
The submission pre-seeding round is open. You can submit anything and the top 64 GIFs make it to the tournament. I should have been tracking the tournament more closely as I narrowly entered by the submission deadline. But I made it! This was mine.
The Wrath of the GIF
I thought a little Ricardo Montalbán would give me a shot, as well as meta reference to reddit with the blue downvote. Last chance to turn that Wrath into an upvote, kill everyone with Genesis! I received my message which confirmed I got in, but then I saw the bracket. I was last. But I got in! But I was 64th out of 64 competing against the number one seed. So I’ll make a GIF about that!
The first round theme was Kevin Spacey. I’ve watched some Spacey, Usual Suspects and American Beauty, also I’d watched the first two seasons of House of Cards. My first thought was to play on the moment where Mena Suvari admits it’s her first time, but it turned out to be much racier than I remembered. But in re-watching the movie I came across the final scene in which Lester Burnham is killed and from that I made this:
Oh Man, I just squeaked into the GifTournament
In the film Lester is staring at a photo of his family and is finally perfectly happy with his life, then BLAM! And as the blood drips from his head he’s literally smiling. So I wanted to show my contentment with having just made the tournament, turning the photo into what looks like an iPad viewing the tournament bracket. And the drips become downvotes/upvotes, envisioning Lester’s karma in the afterlife.
Crazily enough I won my first GIF battle, beating the number one seed preggit! I was so fun to see the reaction in the post first round discussion. It’s a really cool community and I’d love to discuss with the mods at some point how they started the tournament.
For now though it’s on to round two, with the theme ‘America.’ Submissions were due last night at 10PM and voting began one hour later. Not sure if I can continue my Cinderella story, but it’s been a fun ride so far. And cool to see lots of amazing work by so many accomplished GIF makers.