Looping videos set to become larger and higher in quality

Image-sharing website Imgur is updating the GIF for the 21st century, converting them to MP4 video and then displaying them as a standard .GIF (calling it a .GIFV) to make loops higher in quality but smaller in file size.

GIFs are so popular because of their immediacy, lack of buttons or Flash, ability to loop and their nostalgic naff-ness, but they're also overly large in file size, slow and limited to a colour palette dating back to the 80s.

"Let's get real, the .GIF format is outdated and is not really that great for the modern web anymore. " Imgur founder Alan Schaaf told The Verge.

"It was created in 1989, and it wasn't even created for the purpose of animation. What we're trying to do is keep that same experience almost intact but just make the technology around it much better."

In order to do this, all GIF files uploaded to Imgur will now automatically be converted to MP4 videos, compressed and displayed as a new format it is calling the .GIFV, which will be higher in quality, larger in display size and yet drastically smaller in file size.

"What we found in our testing is that we're able to reduce the size of these files by about 10 times," Schaaf added.

 "Imgur provided us with a few examples — the standard GIF file displays much smaller, while the GIF-to-MP4 converted version is significantly larger, while the file itself is smaller."

The move comes after users started flocking to Gfycat, a site which has been converting GIFs to HTML5 video for some time.

The change is being rolled out today and should make it easier to upload GIFs on slower connections e.g on mobile.

"We're not done yet," Schaaf said. "You will see other cool GIF stuff come out of Imgur."