‘The New Yorker’ Does Its First GIF Cover.

Seth Fiegerman. MASHABLE. 30/9/2014

Classy.” “Lovely and understated.” “So beautiful it’ll make you cry.”

Those were some of the early reviews of The New Yorker‘s magazine cover this week. It’s certainly not the first time a New Yorker cover has been described as “beautiful,” but the difference is that this time the cover is a GIF.

The New Yorker, a bastion for arts, culture and long-form storytelling, unveiled the first animated cover on Monday on its website as well as on its mobile applications, but not in print. True to form, the publication resisted the temptation to go too far off into the Internet’s frivolous side — the many dancing babies, loops of Homer Simpson backing up his car, GIFs of the feline persuasion — and stuck with something a bit more sophisticated. Something that calls back to the past. Something simple.

The idea for the animated cover came from Christoph Niemann, an artist and designer who published some animations on The New Yorker‘s website during the summer.

“One of the ways that he expresses himself recently has been in animated GIFs,” says Françoise Mouly, art director at The New Yorker. Mouly had given thought to using one of his earlier GIFs for the cover, but held off until now.

“We wouldn’t have done it if it was just a technical gimmick. It had to be a good image,” Mouly says. “The rain one has the graphic quality and the aesthetic quality that meant it was a modern version of a very old fashioned New Yorker cover.”

While the print cover may not technically be animated, Mouly says the dynamic design and accompanying GIFs online will help to animate the print image in the reader’s mind.

“The image that we published on the cover is static, but you bring in the motion to it,” she says. “It’s very complimentary to the web and mobile. The mind completes the thought here.”

Other print publications like The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek have also experimented with animated images on their websites.

For The New Yorker, the GIF nearly proved too much to handle. Dozens of iterations of the image were required to fit all the possible screen sizes. At one point there were technical issues that caused the GIF to render as a blank space on the web. Mouly says she became “distraught.” But the team persevered and the GIF was brought to life.

“This is a big deal for us,” she says. “It’s our first animated cover. It’s not just a couple of rain drops.” (…)

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