IF YOU’RE OLD enough (or young enough), you may remember trading cards and Trapper-Keepers with pictures that looked like they moved. They were the coolest: neon dolphins jumping out of the water and Michael Jordan dunking with a simple wave back and forth.
GIFs are basically the next-gen version of these prints. They’re a short burst of motion, made with still images or a short video clip, that repeats over and over. They’re digital, obviously, and pretty much ubiquitous online. But what if you could print them and keep them?
Now you can, with Ubersnap, an iPhone app that lets you make GIFs with your phone’s camera, apply your favorite Instagram-like filters, and then—here’s the kicker—print them. Ubersnap will mail you a small lenticular 3-by-3-inch image of your GIF. They’re $10 apiece to print, but hey, the shipping is free.
Ten dollars, you say? WTF? Well, making analog GIFs isn’t easy. “Crafting each animated print is a multi-step process,” says Ubersnap’s Boon Chin Ng. “This is done with special software, and the result is printed with a professional photo printer. We start off by slicing up the frames of a GIF, and interlacing them into a single image. The image looks like gibberish until we align a lenticular sheet on top of it—which takes experience.”
The app allows you to capture between four and twelve frames, the maximum the Ubersnap team can align on a single print. There’s an artistry to it—and Ubersnap is actually a small art studio that created a cool app to capitalize on its craft. “Each animated print is handcrafted at our studio. It takes experience to create a good animated print, and we make sure that every piece is made to the highest standard,” Ng says.
This isn’t the first time someone’s tried bringing your favorite GIFs offline. The free site GifPrint.com turns gifs into printable pages for a flipbook, but using it requires a color printer and a stapler, making it a bit more DIY. That doesn’t mean it’s not great, as evidenced by this frog crawing on another frog.
Even if you don’t want the cool lenticular print, Ubersnap is a nice GIF-maker: Its recording time is intentionally short, there’s no sound, and the video simply loops. Sure, you can say Ubersnap is just another app riffing on Instagram, but it’s certainly one of the more creative ones.