This start-up wants to makes GIFs better, faster, stronger, and less data-heavy

how to make your gifs load faster media crush logo

The GIF is a beloved file format with impressive longevity, even if no one can agree on how to pronounce it (hard “G” forever). But GIFs have a major flaw: they’re slower loading than an 86-year-old meatpacker on the verge of retirement trying to haul one last beef carcass up a steep flight of stairs. 

This is what Media Crush wants to remedy. The open-source service can speed up the loading time of your basic GIF by using compression techniques to convert GIFs into video. The service is still in beta, but it’s free, and there’s no discernible difference between the original GIF files and the converted video files when they play — they just load faster, with smaller file sizes. 

Drew Devault, one of Media Crush’s founders, is confident about the service’s ability to make looping media better. “There are quite a few benefits, but chief among them is speed. GIF is an old file format that has seen better decades. It’s a very poor medium for animation, despite its popularity,” he says. “Technology has made enormous advances in video compression since GIF was released, and when we convert them to actual videos, we get ridiculous results. Usually, we see improvements around 1,500 to 3,000 percent faster after converting to video.” 

Here’s what a conventional GIF looks like uploaded onto WordPress: 

funny (13532) Animated Gif on Giphy

And here it is converted on the Media Crush website. (I can’t embed it directly — and I’ll get to that momentarily.)

For my experiment, Media Crush says the GIF is 354 percent faster, which leads me to believe that the results may be a bit less dramatic every time than Media Crush says — but still, it’s an improvement.

The speed advantage could come in handy for blogs that rely on GIF; for instance, the various Tumblrblogs in the vein of WhatShouldWeCallMe.

Media Crush is still getting its bearings. There’s no mobile app yet, although it’s something the team wants to work on, but they’ve already created a mobile website to make it easier for smartphone users to access the service. It’s a more than worthy concept that undoubtedly could catch on … if it fixes one major problem. 

The drawback is that embedding these converted files onto blogs can be harder than slapping a GIF into a story. “Converting GIFs to videos may make it a little more difficult to host on blogs and other websites, but trivially so. It becomes comparable in difficulty to placing a YouTube video in your blog,” Devault says.

Having a learning curve is fine, but when I tried to embed a GIF converted by Media Crush onto WordPress, which is our publishing tool at Digital Trends, I couldn’t get the video to display properly. Devault noted that Media Crush runs into trouble when it comes to sites using WordPress, and that I’d need to install a special plugin. That’s a big blow to the service, since many online publishers that love GIFs use WordPress. To be fair, that means Tumblr is in the clear. 

Still, if Media Crush can smooth out its rough patches, it could become a widely used tool. As websites continue to bloat, compression is becoming an important step to keep things running smoothly. That’s one of the reasons Facebook just bought Onavo, a service that compresses data. Media Crush could eventually get picked up by a bigger company if it can make itself a universal GIF converter. 

Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Gaming

Battle royale-style Tetris 99 is the first Nintendo Switch Online-exclusive game

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Gaming

Here's our take on the best game-streaming services currently out there

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game streaming services.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.