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2012 in animated gifs

Baumgartner's leap, Rover takes a spin in an endless, fascinating loop

Dec. 18, 2012


2012 in animated gifs

"GIF" was selected as 2012 Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries, besting other notable contenders including Eurogeddon (a word to describe the possible financial collapse of the Eurozone) and Nomophobia (a term to describe anxiety for being without one's mobile phone). The reason the 25-year-old term finally took its moment in the sun? A profound shift in form and utility. "GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun," said Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press in a release. "The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace."

Here's a selection of 2012's biggest stories as told by animated gifs.

The Summer Olympics

The London Olympics inspired a set of gripping and bizarre animated gifs, including a fleet of identical Mary Poppins descending into Olympic Stadium, dancing horses, and jubilant track stars crossing the finish line.

BuzzFeed produced a recap of one of the Games' most compelling controversies - South Korea's Shin A Lam's refusal to leave the floor following her match.

The dynamically visual story unfolds in a series of photographs, videos and gifs - including the powerful scene of the fencer defiantly refusing to leave the floor.


The Mars Rover

NASA's precision landing of the rover on Mars - an eight-month, 352-million-mile journey - was celebrated with great fanfare and fervent fist pumping, captured and looped in a host of gifs showing NASA scientists joyously rising to their feet as the touchdown was confirmed.

The nuclear-powered rover has embarked on a two-year mission to analyze and explore the planet's surface. NASA also released some gifs including this one showing the mighty rover turning its wheels on Aug. 21, a few days before it took its first spin around Mars and captured awesome vistas of the dusty, rocky, red planet.


Felix Baumgartner

'Fearless Felix' Baumgartner in October 2012 became the first skydiver to break the sound barrier, dropping to the earth at a speed of 1,342.8 km/h. The Austrian daredevil, 43, travelled to an altitude of 39,000 metres above the earth in a pressurized capsule. About four minutes into his 9-minute freefall, he opened his helium balloon. Millions of viewers flocked to the Internet to watch the breathtaking event which inspired a host of gifs and memes, from silly loops of unwitting kittens leaping out of a capsule to Baumgartner's record-breaking touchdown.

(Ryan Maue/WeatherBell) (Gizmodo)

Hurricane Sandy

Weather watchers began warning of the Frankenstorm - a powerful hurricane expected to collide with a strong winter storm - before Halloween. Gifmakers put readers in the centre of the storm, showing projected paths and swirling fronts in neatly animated loops.

For comparison's sake, Gizmodo released a gif showing the satellite size of Hurricane Irene with Hurricane Sandy - making an awesome visual comparison in mere seconds. Sandy wreaked havoc on the Eastern Seabord, killing at least 115 people and causing as much as $50 billion in damage.

(Krutika Mallikarjuna and Chris Ritter)

US election

President Barack Obama does the Beyonce dance while Vice President Joe Biden declares an infinite loop of "Malarkey!" Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney meanwhile gives a good giggle while his running mate Paul Ryan flexes his pythons. These fanciful visual punchlines were imagined and brought to life online as the U.S. presidential election revved up. News organizations such as The Guardian and The Atlantic Wire similarly embraced the medium, live giffing the presidential debates bringing new life to various soundbytes including the bayonets and horses scuffle, binders full of women, and Mitt Romney's admission that he does in fact like Big Bird.

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