Supersize it with MaxGIF

William Wilkinson takes animated GIFs up a notch.


Lorraine Murphy

Internet Culture

Published Aug 15, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 12:49 pm CDT

As if GIFs weren’t awesome enough, MaxGIF, helpfully subtitled “Stupidly Big GIFs,” takes all your favorite GIFs and serves them up to you at full-screen awesomeness. It’s also on Facebook, with 2,119 likes. MaxGIF creator and mild-mannered Canadian William Wilkinson spoke via email with the Daily Dot about himself and his project.

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Daily Dot: Let’s start with the basics: a/s/l/etc? Tell us about yourself.

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I am 21-year-old iOS designer for MetaLab in Victoria, Canada. I also make my own apps, most notably Everyday for iPhone.

DD: MaxGIFs is an amazingly simple, but really powerful idea, especially since so many GIFs are annoyingly small. Where did you come up with the idea? What’s your favorite one? Drama Llama side-eye is fantastic, and there’s nothing like watching an 8-bit version of Star Wars larger than you can watch the original.

Thanks! I’ve always loved GIFs, and have been posting my own on my Tumblr for years. The original inspiration for MAXGIF was my friend Topher‘s GIF blog that blew GIFs up to the size of your browser, but was limited to his curation, and I wanted to blow up my own GIFs. Once we started building our own, features like random and short-urls naturally arose.

This is my current favoriteDrama Llama is a golden classic.

DD: How many submissions a day do you get? The stats are really impressive, but that must make for a lot of time spent weeding out porn.

We get a few hundred submissions a day, sometimes more. And on average 50,000 GIF views a day. Yes, the porn/gore creeped up on us much quicker than expected. When you give the internet full reign they’ll make a lot awesome stuff and an equal amount of porn. Within the first two days after launch we were being obliterated and had to scramble to create moderation controls, every other GIF was porn or something grosser. I’ve seen lots of things I wish I hadn’t, let’s leave it at that.  I was spending hours a day weeding them out, but now things have slowed down and I can quickly run through recent submissions in a couple minutes, viewed as a big grid.

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DD: How long does it take the latest viral GIF, like the basketball cat, to make it to your site? Have you ever been waiting for one particular one to show up and then nobody submits it?

I can usually detect GIF oncoming popularity if it is being submitted multiple times from different parts of the internet within a short amount of time. I submit a lot myself, so it’s unlikely l’d be waiting on others to submit one.

DD: We’re interested in the ways artists use social media. Can you describe why you’re on Tumblr? What do you want to get out of it, and have you so far succeeded?

Tumblr is where I share things I make and get instant feedback, it’s addicting. I use it as a public journal of sorts, I love looking back through the archives, as vain as it is. I think I do use them differently than the average user, I try to only post less and keep quality higher, and reblog/retweet sparingly.

DD: I don’t know how we can feature a GIF to give even the slightest hint of the impact they have full-sized like that, but if we could, which one would you pick? I’m leaning towards one of the psychedelic Op Art ones.

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And that’s it. Our minds are blown. If you’d like to blow your own or your friends’ minds, you can submit your own GIF by pasting the URL of the image file into the box on the main page of MaxGIF. Happy maximizing!

Image via MaxGIF

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*First Published: Aug 15, 2012, 8:21 am CDT