Should Discourse convert GIFs to mp4 video files?


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #1

Just read about this neat trick that Twitter is doing with GIFs:

http://blog.embed.ly/post/89265229166/what-twitter-isnt-telling-you-about-gifs

Perhaps this is something Discourse would like to mimic in the future.

And for the watercooler: If a video format does everything GIF does and more, and with better compression, are the days of the GIF numbered?


Optimized / Resized GIFs lose all animation, become still frames
Uploading .webm support?
Are mp4 files intentionally no longer approved for upload?
Giphy onebox for animated gifs
About importing videos when you are under 13
Very large gifs should be shown as previews
Product feature - homepage design question
(Jeff Atwood) #3

http://gfycat.com also does this.

Live example with both formats automatically offered


HonorableAdolescentFowl
Gif Size: 13M
Gfy Size: 2M
Compression: 2.7 to 1 (Bandwidth saved: 17G)
Views: 2082
Original: Video
Reddit comments: /r/battlefield_4

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #4

Yep, it seems to have built up a fair bit of traction, mostly thanks to the Reddit crowd. There’s an API of sorts too. If Discourse did its automatic grab-the-file-and-self-host-it I suppose this might work in the short term.

I really think this kind of workaround ought to be open source though. A lot of articles I’ve read describe Gfy as a new format, which is very misleading. There’s only one way to make a “Gfy”, and that’s through Gfycat.com. Gfy is a service.


(Marcin Rataj) #5

Some communities would benefit from such functionality.
Especially ones with download remote images to local setting enabled :stuck_out_tongue:, but faster page loads alone is a good reason to think about it.

Quick hack would be to just use gfycat.com API.
Assuming one does not mirror remote images, I think it is achievable even with pure Javascript which you can add via /admin/customize/css_html. Lets say JS iterates over posts and if it finds .gif image. HTTP GET is performed:
http://upload.gfycat.com/transcode?fetchUrl=i.imgur.com/jGMtJIb.gif
It downloads&converts remote image (if not already present) and returns JSON with video details. At this point you replace .gif with video in post (see section “How can I embed these or link to them?”)
Custom plugin which bakes .webm into posts via background job would be of course more elegant.

Anyway,
I don’t think they (gfycat) do anything magical beside handling hight traffic quite well.
We can replicate functionality with ffmpeg alone (see 4chan’s guide to converting GIF to WebM).

If we plan to self-host .webm it would be just an extension to already existing download remote images to local feature. We would have an additional setting replace .gifs with optimized .webm versions (we could add another setting: convert only .gifs bigger than…).

Such native functionality requires ffmpeg as a dependency and comes with additional security risks.
It does not sound like a good default for Discourse: maybe it is possible to create it as a plugin?


Very large gifs should be shown as previews
(Marcin Rataj) #6

A related development, Imgur is introducing GIFV:

The cornerstone of Project GIFV is a platform-wide upgrade to automatically convert uploaded GIF files on the fly into the MP4 video format. […]

The .GIFV Extension: With all these improvements, Imgur will now denote converted MP4s with a “.gifv” extension. The intention is to signal to users throughout the Internet that these links will feature a GIF experience that incorporates all the current and future enhancements made through Project GIFV. Imgur plans to submit an accompanying specification to relevant standards organizations before the end of the year.


Introducing GIFV into Discourse
(Kane York) #7

The “gifv” “files” are actually just a HTML page that runs some Javascript to pick the GIF or MP4 file.


(Marcin Rataj) #8

Exactly! :smile_cat:
Discourse already has onebox for MP4 files.
So the only missing piece is some kind of a sidekick job that does the conversion and slight modification to the onebox to loop by default (if mp4 was created from gif).


(Tomo Vukasović) #11

You can do view video and share the gifv link, but you can’t save it. Facebook is embedding givf files nicely.

The problems I have read so far is poor display on some devices. Plus comment about this case:


(Justin Pierce) #12

If you upload to gfycat, you can actually get an .mp4 link that discourse will show inline :smile:

edit: hmm, this mp4 stopped working for me, but if I open in incognito or restart chrome it works again – not sure what’s up.


(Marcin Rataj) #13

It works for imgur.
For example something like https://i.imgur.com/mYNXTPw.gif can be requested as https://i.imgur.com/mYNXTPw.webm which gives:

It would be nice if Discourse detected .gif URLs from common providers such as imgur/gfycat
and just replaced image with looped video (already provided by site), as it saves a lot of bandwidth.


mp4 (gif) embedding?
(Benjamin Kampmann) #14

That sounds like something that could easily be done using the onebox, adding a white list either in the image or video engine. I am happy to build that, if such a PR is wanted (could also be behind a configuration setting, if needed).


(Jeff Atwood) #15

I am fine with special MP4 handling onebox for these services that specialize in it.


(Sam Saffron) #16

A quick update,

Chrome does a terrible job with huge gif files, they can choke the web browser and cause all sorts of nasties not to mention mobile paying a hefty price on traffic and blowing data plans.

Gifv technique championed by imgur is good

http://i.imgur.com/zvATqgs.gifv

<video id="video" autoplay="autoplay" muted="muted" preload="auto" loop="loop" poster="//i.imgur.com/zvATqgsh.jpg">
        
     <source src="//i.imgur.com/zvATqgs.webm" type="video/webm">
     <source src="//i.imgur.com/zvATqgs.mp4" type="video/mp4">
     
     <object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" height="370" width="660" data="//s.imgur.com/include/flash/gifplayer.swf?imgur_video=//i.imgur.com/zvATqgs.mp4&amp;imgur_width=660&amp;imgur_height=370&amp;imgur_url=//imgur.com/zvATqgs">
         <param name="movie" value="//s.imgur.com/include/flash/gifplayer.swf?imgur_video=//i.imgur.com/zvATqgs.mp4&amp;imgur_width=660&amp;imgur_height=370&amp;imgur_url=//imgur.com/zvATqgs">
         <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="never">
         <param name="flashvars" value="height=370&amp;width=660">
         <param name="width" value="370">
         <param name="height" value="660">
         <param name="version" value="0">
         <param name="scale" value="scale">
         <param name="salign" value="tl">
         <param name="wmode" value="opaque">
     </object>
 </video>

It’s really just a video element with a bunch of fallbacks.

I see a few actionable things we can do here:

  1. If people hotlink anything larger than say 10mb force a “click” to actually download the image and hide it behind a preview

  2. get ffmpeg into our base image and do the webm and mp4 conversion for all animated gifs, don’t worry about the flash fallback.

  3. Offer an integration piece with imgur that uses imgur to do this … any gif larger than X gets sent to imgur for recompression. (or use a different service)


(Sam Saffron) #17

Another huge advantage is that you get no auto play on mobile with the technique above


(Jeff Atwood) #18

One thing to consider is how Slack deals with this:

http://img0.joyreactor.cc/pics/post/%D0%B3%D0%B8%D1%84%D0%BA%D0%B8-superjail-%D0%BC%D1%83%D0%BB%D1%8C%D1%82%D1%81%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B0%D0%BB-%D0%A1%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%8F-%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%84%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B0-1886210.gif (Not automatically expanded because 30MB is too large. You can expand it anyway or open it in a new window. You can also change your preferences to allow images of any file size to auto expand.)